“The written word is redundant on the high seas. Why? Because paper gets wet too easily.”
― Walter Moers,
‘The 13 1/2 Lives of Captain Bluebear’ is a fantastic fairy tale for the whimsical adult in all of us. Both written and illustrated by Walter Moers, he brings us into the world of Zamonia’s last blue bear.
It starts with a baby Bluebear floating in the ocean naked in a nutshell towards a maelstrom. He is saved from certain death by a ship of daring Minipirates who end up raising him until he is too big to fit on the ship. (As is depicted on the cover of the book).
That is only the beginning of elaborate adventures Bluebear finds himself tackling. In his cubhood alone he becomes a thespian for Hobgoblins, ensnared by a carnivorous island, learning speech from ocean waves, and working as a directional guide for a near-sighted dinosaur. All of which is accompanied by hilarious and adorable drawings.
As Bluebear travels, he meets all kinds of quirky characters. He is taught by Professor Abdulla Nightingale, who has seven brains and transmittable intelligence. Freda, an Alpine imp, who is annoyingly in love with Bluebear. Chemluth Havanna, a Tabasco troll who accompanies Bluebear through his King of Lies duels. He even helps a nomadic tribe known as the Muggs trap a mirage.
Each of Bluebear’s lives are an interesting adventure with fun at every turn. The whole book is reminiscent of a fairy tale in the way the art coincides with the stories. It’s one of the more unique novels I’ve read. I mean, who’s ever thought of a Gelatine Prince from dimension 2364?
The best part is it’s part of a series: Zamonia Series! The fairy tales go on!