Set to Sea

Set to Sea
Set to Sea review
  • North American Publisher / ISBN: Fantagraphics Books - 978-1-60699-771-0
  • Release date: 2010
  • Format: Black and white
  • UPC: 9781606997710
  • Contains adult content?: no
  • Does this pass the Bechdel test?: no
  • Positive minority portrayal?: no

Sometimes it’s terribly easy to review a graphic novel. Sometimes they’re simply a good strong tale, beautifully told and universally appealing.

One such is the delightful, genuinely stirring saga of an indigent poet and aspiring barfly with a taste for maritime verse, whose lack of true inspiration is cured when he is press-ganged aboard a Hong-Kong clipper and forcibly learns the true life of a sea salt.

Initially resistant to a life afloat, a terrifying brush with death opens his eye and he accepts the only life he could ever truly enjoy, even managing, whilst traversing the world for joyous, raucous decades, to satisfy his artistic leanings into the bargain and discover where his heart truly lies.

There’s a magical circular structure to Set to Sea, which takes place over many years. The art is exceptional, beautifully drawn in a deliciously worshipful blend of Elzie Segar, traditional woodcut prints and, a touch of the wonderful Tony Millionaire. This superb rough ‘n’ tumble black and white yarn collects the impressive online comic into a salty, panel-per-page paean to the gaining of true experience over romantic fantasy, and even manages to be a telling examination of the role of the arts in life. Part coming of age story, part explanation of how experience and failure can eventually coalesce to sustain lasting success, it’s all wonderful.

Do you really need to know any more? Any lover of a dream-life narrative and fresh yet solid entertainment simply must read Set to Sea – Captain’s Orders…