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Set to Sea’ is the comics equivalent of good poetry

J. Caleb Mozzocco

The Details

Set to Sea
Four stars
Drew Weing. Fantagraphics Books, $17

Drew Weing’s debut graphic novel has a basic, even trite message for writers and creators of all kinds, one that can essentially be boiled down to “write what you know.” His protagonist is a big, hulking lug who dreams of being a poet, but gets shanghaied and pressed into service as a sailor. A pirate attack, the loss of an eye and plenty of hardship and adventure later, the big lug puts his pencil to paper once again, and now finds he has something to write about. It’s a fast read, as every page of Weing’s book is a single, square panel of its own, featuring delicate line work devoted to cartoony characters in elaborately illustrated, cross-hatched black and white settings. If the message and method of delivery seem simple, the artwork is anything but. In that regard, Set to Sea is the comics equivalent of good poetry. It’s not what’s being said so much as how beautifully Weing’s saying it.


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  • An offhand touch and the plot's peculiar circumstances help lighten the sometimes dark story.

  • The author's new collection is creepy, titillating and impossible to put down.

  • Art history as a continual unfolding of ideas and forms is just one of the author's concerns.

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