The action begins in November 1913 in the South Seas as feelings of the Great War were already looming but the romantic ideals of the nineteenth century were still alive. The pace of the narrative and the drawings are very modern and Pratt permeates the adventure with an extraordinary atmosphere of the great outdoors. The story captures the imagination of the reader from the opening pages with a tight, compelling storyline that can be interpreted on different levels.
It is in this long story that we also meet the young and beautiful Pandora, her brother Cain, the mysterious criminal mastermind Monk, the grim and ferocious Rasputin, Lieutenant Slutter of the German Navy, and the natives Skull and Tarao. The Ballad of the Salty Sea is also hailed as the first example of the literary comic strip. Pratt was inspired by Conrad, Stevenson, and London, but even more directly by Henry de Vere Stacpool’s Blue Lagoon, from which the author got the idea of a small island in the Pacific which he named “Escondida.”