The Unsinkable Walker Bean

by Aaron Renier and Alec Longstreth (colors).

An instant classic all-ages adventure story.    Admiral Bean lies on his deathbed, raving of dangers to all humanity from supernatural horrors lurking beneath the sea.    But who would believe the ravings of a sick old man?

Who?  Only his grandson Walker accepts him at his word.

The rollicking sea adventure that ensues follows this determined and imaginative youth in his mission to return a magical (and talking) skull-sized pearl to the lair of the monstrous Sea Witches from whence it was stolen.  If he cannot return it, his grandfather will surely die.

Walker’s desperation breeds great creativity and invention in seeing this quest through.  And despite a cautious nature and reasonable fears, he will not be swayed from the task by leviathan nor pirate nor navy.   If necessity is the mother of invention, then desperation is the father of true genius as Walker steers invents complex feats of plausible engineering to keep his quest on course.

As an illustrator Aaron Reiner has a scratchy and busy style, which might look overly cluttered if rendered in black and white, the details serve the story well.   The cartoony and unsophisticated line of the main characters is supported by an exactitude of cross-hatched backgound detail.  It’s like looking at Colorform cut-outs overlaid on Gustav Dore etchings.

The book truly glows though on the paintwork of colorist Alec Longstreth.  He enlivens even simple drawings with a luminous depth and focuses your attention by highlighting the important images, allowing background scribblings to add plausible and supporting complexity.   The night sky at sea stretches deep into the infinity of space,  indigo waters convey a sense of the ominous and impenetrable Deep, the hold of a pirate ship is a complex cobb salad of tossed wreckage and booty.

This is an enchanting sea yarn following an engaging and compelling protagonist.  Like:  The Secret Science Alliance crossed with the Pirates of the Carribean.

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