The Undersea Adventures of CAPT'N ELI
A Review by Ron Fortier
Book # 1
"The Mystery of Me" &
"The Mystery of the Sargasso Sea" Part One.
Art & Story by Jay Piscopo
104 pages - Full Color
Book # 2
"The Mystery of the Sargasso Sea" Part Two
Art & Story by Jay Piscopo
112 pages - Full Color
Have you ever heard of a comic book based on a soda pop? Neither had I, until I came upon this independent title which simply blew me away upon first reading. The Readers' Digest version goes like this. A family owned and operated soda company in Portland, ME., had been making a very popular drink called Capt'N Eli's Root Beer. If you are a connoisseur of soft drinks, you are going to want to get a taste of this sweet ambrosia for sure. Now the marketing gang at the brewery came up with the idea making a comic book that would somehow tie-in with their product and help make it even more successful. To their good fortune, the man they recruited to pull this off is comic pro Jay Piscopo, a Maine native who both writes and draws.
Piscopo examined the company, its history and amidst this research, he was taken by the little boy dressed up in a fishermen's gear who appeared on the root beer's label. The lad was of course CapN Eli, and he is rowing a boat in which are his two companions, a white dog and a colorful parrot. As the company was already represented by this young boy, why not develop a fantastic science-fiction adventure saga around him? From that idea this amazing book developed into the package it is today. Thus far the company's publishing arm, Nemo Publishing, has released two gorgeous and thick volumes, each crammed pack with all kinds of way out action.
In book one, which sports a cover by Steve Rude, we meet Capt'N Eli, a veritable mystery of the sea. As a baby, without any identification tags of any kind, he washes up on the shores of a lighthouse off the coast of Maine floating in a futuristic pod; shades of a sci-fi Moses. The baby is found the by the elderly couple who tend the lighthouse and they soon become his adoptive parents, christening him Capt'N Eli. As the boy grows up under their loving care, it becomes evident that he is drawn to the sea and also has a genius for inventing things. It is Mom and Pops who give him the dog Barney. Later, while visiting a nearby island, Eli and Barney discover an exotic talking parrot named Jolly Roger. By the end of the book's first chapter, Eli and his pals bid Mom and Pops farewell and sail off in his home-made submarine. He is all of ten years old. Eli soon joins up with a group of colorful science/adventurers called the Seasearchers who travel the world's ocean aboard their wondrous sub, the Seascape.
The book's (and its website) have a tag-line, "Stand by adventure!" And that is exactly what Piscopo delivers non-stop. There's all kinds of bizarre underwater alien villains, a mysterious figure known as Commander X who supposedly comes form the future and time-travel aplenty as there's never a dull moment in this series. What I loved about the book is that it has the same family friendly fun of the old classic animated series, JONNY QUEST. Piscopo also uses computer generated images as the backdrops for his own pencil and ink figures thus allowing him to invent some really wonderful sea and air crafts.
If there is any flaw to this high octane stew, it's probably the fact that there is so much going on plot-wise. The reader is given a too much back story to digest. Some of it could have easily been condensed and better yet, spread out over a few more issues. Piscopo's sin is his own enthusiasm in that his head is filled with all this fun stuff and he's just putting it down as fast as he can. I hope as the series develops, he'll become more comfortable in his storytelling and stop rushing events to allow the plot to move at a more normal pacing. Don't get me wrong, I love fast paced stories, but this has been in overdrive since page one, and I would imagine most kid readers need a respite to catch their imaginary breaths.
You can find both issues and lots of other cool stuff at (www.captneli.com).
Ron Fortier (email@example.com) / Writer, Creator and Imagineer
Ron Fortier has been a professional writer for over 25 years working on comic book projects such as The Hulk, Popeye, Rambo and Peter Pan, his two most popular comic series being The Green Hornet and The Terminator (with Alex Ross). With Ardath Mayhar he's penned two TSR fantasy novels, and in 2001 he had his first play produced. Ron is a constant supporter of the site, writes for it from time to time and shepards our forums. Learn more about Ron at Airship27.
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