Sunday, July 02, 2006

Polly & the Pirates

Ted Naifeh, the writer/artist behind the phenomenal Courtney Crumrin series, has created another spectacular character in Polly Pringle, making such a feat seem much easier than it could ever be. I think the character design of Polly is his best yet, even in comparison to the monsters and strange creatures that have graced his pages. She moves between two worlds, one where she is a studious young woman attending a prestigious school, and another when she is shanghaid by pirates and steps into a role that seems to be on the opposite side of the spectrum. There's a nice panel in the sixth and last issue of the mini-series where Polly lets her hair down from their tight buns to let them hang in pigtails, in typical girly fashion, a transformation that allows Polly to return to the academic world we found her in at the beginning of the series. The scene not only showcased the two very different looks of the character, but her diverse nature - a nature you can see in both the exemplary Victorian girl and the fiercly confident pirate. You wouldn't expect the girl you find in the beginning chapters of the story to fit into the role of the pirate, but her stubborn will and cleverness are carried from one role to the other to make the transition perfectly natural. She remains innocent in light of her adventure, though by the standards of the world she comes from her actions may seem to have tainted her good name (if she'd been caught in the act, that is). But we know her to be true of heart and intention.

Polly & the Pirates is full of eccentric characters, many of whom are part of the pirate crew that she encounters, thick with accents, but also include her housemates at her school as well as the darkly handsome but sinister adversary of the tale. Naifeh does an excellent job of showcasing Polly's inherent strengths of being a pirate as she faces the odds (including an opposing group of pirates and the police) to track down the legendary Pirate Queen's treasure. Not only that, but the action of the tale is top-notch, highlighting the artist's cartooning skills more than ever before, with his beautifully-designed ships and locales. Polly & the Pirates is an incredibly fun tale. I can't help but hope for a follow-up tale, the sort of which the end of this mini hints at. Do yourself a favor and check this series out.

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