Baggywrinkles: A Lubber’s Guide to Life at Sea
Lucy Bellwood loves tall ships, and she wants to share that passion with us. Baggywrinkles: A Lubber’s Guide to Life at Sea is one of my favorite kinds of comics: it shows me what it would be like to do something I’m never going to do.
Baggywrinkles is an anthology, a collection of anecdotes about crewing on a sailing ship. Bellwood begins with the tale of how, in high school, she first went to work on an historical replica ship. Her love and anxiety and excitement come through beautifully, and her illustrations of life at sea are evocative and seductive.
The bits of information she shares in the short pieces build an idea of a life at sea through mosaic. She explains what a baggywrinkle is, for example, and provides a history of nautical tattoos. She introduces basic equipment and terminology, all in a fashion that puts the reader there with a naive-but-in-love ship’s apprentice. One-page bits of trivia punctuate the longer chapters, and well-illustrated knots and bits of equipment serve as story-separating designs.
I appreciated finding out why pirates didn’t really make people walk the plank and what scurvy was and how they found out how to prevent it. It’s educational and hilarious, with a weird appearance by a capybara that actually fits in. There’s also a historical piece about an early visit to Japan, at a time when trade with outsiders was forbidden.
I’ve linked above to Amazon to buy the paperback, but the author has a hardcover with additional options at her store. This volume collects minicomics, now colored, and you can see the black-and-white versions at her website.