Holiday Gift Bag: Cursed Pirate Girl

Is it time for another Holiday Gift Bag? Yes, it is. It’s time for more Holiday Gift Bag. Today, we’re talking about Cursed Pirate Girl by Jeremy A. Bastian.


Our lead character is… THE CURSED PIRATE GIRL! Not that she has a pirate ship, at least not initially. She doesn’t seem particularly cursed either. She might be cursed with madness, but she’s no different from any other character we encounter here — everyone’s a nut.

She’s definitely trying to find her father, though — he’s one of the great Pirate Captains who sailed the legendary Omerta Seas, and she desperately wants to find him and join his crew. But she’s offended the governor, who orders one of his thugs to kill her. He fails, luckily, and she gains her first ally — Pepper Dice, a parrot who crawls into a fish (Yes, the whole story’s a bit loopy) so he can lead her to the secret entrance of the Omerta Seas. She also meets Sir Haffu and Sir Halek, a couple of quarreling swordfish knights.

But there are lots of deadly foes on the Omerta Seas — specifically, rival pirates like Captain Holly and his grotesque crew of scallywags! Can the Cursed Pirate Girl win out over them all? Will she ever manage to find her father? Will she eat better than any other pirate? How did she get that awesome eyepatch? How much does she love laughing?

Verdict: Thumbs up. It’s a deeply weird and surreal and hilarious book. Just about everyone is deformed and grotesque, both physically and mentally. The world is full of freaks and monsters of all types — and usually, they’re not there to menace our heroine — they’re just background color. They’re just there to remind you how spectacularly weird this little world is.

And holy quackers, you’re gonna have to check out the art on this one. Y’all know I’m not an artist and don’t know a whole heck of a lot about art history, so it’s tough for me to pin down just which artists Bastian reminds me of. It’s a bit like Windsor McKay’s work on “Little Nemo in Slumberland,” a bit like Richard F. Outcault’s Yellow Kid comic strip, a bit like Thomas Nast’s editorial cartoons, a bit like Gustave Dore. It’s weird and intricate and beautiful, and you can sit there and look at a whole page over and over and always find something you’d missed the first time.

You can’t say this about every graphic novel out there, but the physical presentation of this is a definite selling point. You gotta get the hardcover with the rough-cut pages. I got some serious happiness just from the tactile sensations of holding the book and turning the pages — it makes you feel like you’re really reading something special.

Get this for anyone — kids or grownups — with a taste for surreal, swashbuckling adventure, or for someone who really appreciates weird humor or gorgeous artwork. I bet someone on your Christmas list is going to love this, so go pick it up.

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