Wednesday, 21 September 2016

Isle of 100,000 Graves Review (Jason, Fabien Vehlmann)

Set in Pirate Times, Gwenny’s pop went a-sailing to find the legendary treasure of the Isle of 100,000 graves but never returned. Then Gwenny finds a map to the island in a bottle and joins a swashbuckling crew of pirates to find out what happened to him. But what she discovers is something completely unexpected…

Jason is one of my favourite cartoonists and coupled with a great writer like Fabien Vehlmann you get a magnificent book like Isle of 100,000 Graves. Jason’s best known for his silent or sparsely-written comics so Vehlmann’s inclusion is why the book has more dialogue than usual. But Jason shows he is an able adaptor of other people’s scripts with this comic. 

Vehlmann’s clever and humorous writing suits Jason’s deadpan storytelling style so well that this is one of the most perfect collaborations I’ve ever read. Gwenny’s a plucky heroine in the style of True Grit’s Mattie Ross and uses her intelligence to outwit her abusive mother, con a pirate crew to take her where she wants, and blackmail a pirate into being her bodyguard. She’s a brilliant protagonist.

I won’t go into what’s on the Isle of 100,000 Graves or what happened to Gwenny’s father, partly not to spoil any readers who haven’t had the pleasure to find out for themselves yet, but also because this review would just be full of gushing praise about this scene or that scene and that character, etc. It’d be praise overload without really adding anything you’d get from the experience of reading the story for yourself. 

Suffice it to say that this is a highly enjoyable quality comic that anyone looking for an amusing and inventive story will really like. I’ve read this three times now and it always impresses me. 

I recommend checking out Jason’s other books too - I honestly think he might be the best living cartoonist in the world - but Fabien Vehlmann’s books are terrific too. His Green Manor series is a must-read for Agatha Christie fans and his 7 Psychopaths book does the Suicide Squad concept better than any Suicide Squad comic I’ve come across (Sean Phillips also draws it!). But if you read just one of his, Isle of 100,000 Graves is the best!

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