In our ongoing quest to showcase the wide range of Jacques Tardis 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, LAnjou, 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 Tardis oeuvre in his fantastical mode.
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"A strong Jules Verne flavor dominates the storys 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 Tardis 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 whats 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 Tardis gorgeous visuals, with their supple line work and elegant compositions." Gordon Flagg, Booklist