In our ongoing quest to showcase the wide range of Jacques Tardi’s bibliography,
Fantagraphics reaches all the way back to one of his earliest, and most distinctive
graphic novels: A satirical, Jules Verne-esque “retro-sci-fi” yarn executed
on scratchboard in a stunningly detailed faux-woodcut style perfectly chosen to
render the Edwardian-era mechanical marvels on display. Created in 1972, The
Arctic Marauder is a downright prescient example of proto-“steampunk” science
fiction — or perhaps more accurately, and to coin a spinoff genre, “icepunk.”
In 1899, “L’Anjou,” a ship navigating the Arctic Ocean from Murmansk,
Russia, to Le Havre, France comes across a stunning sight: A ghostly, abandoned
vessel perched high atop an iceberg. But exploring this strange apparition is the
last thing the sailors will ever do, as their own ship is soon dispatched to Davy
Jones’ locker via a mysterious explosion.
Enter Jérôme Plumier, whose search for his missing uncle, the inventor Louis-Ferdinand Chapoutier, brings him into
contact with the sinister, frigid forces behind this — and soon he too is headed towards the North Pole, where he will
contend with mad scientists, monsters of the deep, and futuristic submarines and flying machines.
Told with brio in hilarious slabs of vintage purple prose, The Arctic Marauder works both as ripping good adventure
story and parody of same, and, predating as it does the later and not dissimilar Adèle Blanc-Sec series, is a keystone in
Tardi’s oeuvre in his fantastical mode.
"A strong Jules
Verne flavor dominates the story’s stew of mystery farce and sci-fi adventure, from the ship named the
Jules Vernez to the assortment of just-plausibly-outlandish vehicles and deep-sea mechanical apparatuses.
But the real fun comes from marveling at it all in Tardi’s expansive, ice-blasted scratchboard tableaus that
feature one breath-stealing scene after another, all the way through to the cheerfully villainous finale. A
devious bit of far-fetched fun."
— Ian Chipman, Booklist
"Are you a fan of the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise? Into steampunk? Like freezing temperatures? Check out The Arctic Marauder, the 1972 work by acclaimed comic artist Jacques Tardi. Rendered in clear-line detail and taking place in the North Pole, the bleak graphic novel follows the frosty exploits of a young man in search of his missing inventor uncle. The ice-punk trend starts here."
– Alternative Press
Praise for Tardi's The Extraordinary Adventures of Adèle Blanc-Sec:
"...Plot twists aplenty, including a murder or two, as well as a parade of mysterious characters and double-crosses... In crisp drawings with just the right combination of caricature and architectural precision, Tardi wonderfully captures turn-of-the-century Paris."
– Publishers Weekly
"The mysteries are compelling enough, but the best is
what’s found around the edges: elements that spice up the proceedings by parodying disloyal henchmen,
inept gendarmes, and talky exposition; the meticulously rendered belle epoque settings (the confrontation
with the cult leader takes place, naturally, atop the Eiffel Tower); and Adèle herself, who, at least at this
early stage, is an intriguing cipher. But the main attraction is Tardi’s gorgeous visuals, with their supple
line work and elegant compositions."
– Gordon Flagg, Booklist
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