- Posted by Johanna on January 14, 2006 at 11:32 am
- Category: Graphic Novel Reviews
- CREDITS: by Jeff Nicholson
- PUBLISHER: AIT/PlanetLar; $12.95 US
Pirates have been trendy, but those of us who’ve read Colonia already know how much fun their adventures can be. Jeff Nicholson has created a wonderful alternate history fantasy set during the exploration of the New World.
The story picks right up in the middle of things, with Jack and his uncles washed ashore on an island after being captured by pirates, who tried to force them into their crew. Jack and the others aren’t sure where or when they are, and neither is the reader. Then the man made of fish (a striking image that’s immediately intriguing) appears, indicating that things are much weirder than first thought.
One of my favorite recurring characters is Lucy, a talking duck who befriends Jack. There are silly ghosts — two gold-crazed headless Spanish soldiers — and scary ones, too, female pirates, and mermaids. There’s also a running pigeon gag that gets funnier the more I see it. Things tend to be a bit surreal in this twist on a boy’s adventure tale.
Colonia shows how enjoyable history can be, and how thrilling. The setting, an alternate North America where creatures we find fantastic really exist, is fascinating. The clear art does a great job of establishing the scenes and making the reader feel the setting, especially in the dream-like wordless sequences set underwater.
The exciting escapades are told with straightforward storytelling, avoiding fancy camera angles or art tricks. Jeff Nicholson’s style is distinctive, and the art is lovely, with expressive faces alternating between detailed and cartoony as suits the character and action. The mysteries of the world contribute greatly to the appeal of the series. The hook here is “and then what happened?”
Colonia was nominated for two Eisner Awards in 1999, Best New Series and Best Title for a Younger Audience. More information is available at the Colonia website.