Jason and Fabien Vehlmann - Isle of 100,000 Graves (4 stars)

Daft and deadpan humour make for hilarious read

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Jason and Fabien Vehlmann - Isle of 100,000 Graves

(Fantagraphics)

Norway-born, South of France-based cartoonist Jason’s absurdist mix of daft and deadpan humour (a Nordic speciality perhaps) once again makes for hilarious reading in this tale of skulduggery in the South Seas. The discovery of a treasure map in a bottle washed up on a beach prompts plucky little half-orphan Gwenny to set off on a quest for her long lost father. Having convinced a crew of pirates to sail her to the titular funereal location marked on her map, Gwenny and the buccaneers find it hides a secret torture college whose tutors are only too willing to have their pupils practice their dark arts upon the interlopers.

As always, an already silly story concept is rendered even more ridiculous by Jason’s cast of dog and bird-headed zoomorphic characters, who are, generally speaking, dim-witted and ill mannered. Having tackled pulp fiction and B-movie genres in the past (plot twisting time travel, swashbuckling adventure, zombie horror, crime caper), Jason (here collaborating with Fabien Vehlmann) plunders the pirate genre to parody its familiar conventions in a way that feels fresh tanks to his idiosyncratic comic sensibility. Those Pirates of the Caribbean haven’t got anything on this.

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