Friday, December 7, 2012

Yar! Look Kids! Comics about Pirates!

I get asked a lot by people who think that the world of comics is all super heroes...  What might they read that isn't spandex and super powers but still adventure?

They seem surprised when I suggest they check out comics about pirates. Admittedly some are from the past, but still you can find them in the back issue bins, and comic book conventions and of course ebay.

Not every comic is for every reader, not every comic is for all ages.   I am not recommending these for every reader, I am just suggesting that you might enjoy them if you are interested in pirates.

(Some images are shrunk to fit the column and writing, please click on each image to see the covers in all of their glory)

Rawbone by comic writer Jamie Delano (from publisher Avatar) is probably my favorite of those I will briefly mention here, although it is likely to be far too dark and deviant for some.   It involves lesbian lovers, beasts from the sea, and bestial violence and lust that only a wicked mind like Delano's could provide.  Artist Max Fiumara does a considerably good job bringing Jamie's madness to life.   Please heed the warning, this is not for kids or people who are sensitive to vulgar and violent stories.  On the other hand if you dig those things, there it is.

Dead Men Tell No Tales from Arcana was a bit of a harsh ride.  The art is not consistent, and the story jumps around a bit, but it is dark, and delicious in ways pirates should be.   While uneven in quality, I liked it.   The writing by Dwight MacPherson combined with the Ben Templesmith cover art makes the book more than ok.

El Cazador from CrossGen was a fine adventure tale of a woman pirate captain and a very rough crew.    Chuck Dixon wrote this as an action tale, and Steve Epting's art was brilliant.   This was a most excellent book, with quality work all around.   Sadly the story didn't run to completion, but who knows, maybe no one's story runs to a complete finite end.

In the age of comics between the Golden age and the revival of the super heroes in the Silver age wild adventures and dark fantasies were offered in comic story by EC.   Long since gone, the EC comics presented here PIRACY were then reprinted by Gemstone recently.  The back issues of either run are possibly found in the places mentioned above, but expect the EC comics to be quite pricey.   The Piracy comics weren't as pretty as say El Cazador, or well written as Rawbone, but they were young, wild and full of energy.  Despite being accused of being too violent for children and such, these are mostly still PG at worst.

What happens when a pirate crew are infected with vampirism?   They turn the oceans into a Sea of Red.   Rick Remender, Keiron Dwyer, Salgood Sam and Paul Harmon take this hybrid creation from the past to the near present, and follow the lives and wild reaches of a crew who were dead but didn't know to die.  I am a fan of this work, but am kind of reluctant to compare it to the other stories, it is just not straight forward enough as a pirate tale to be measured as such.   Instead I like it for the dark, bloody fantasy it presents.


kurt wilcken said...

One year back in the '90s, DC Comics used "Elseworlds" as the theme for its Summer Annuals. The best of that lot was a Batman Annual where Batman was a pirate. Freakin' cool.

kurt wilcken said...

And how can we forget "Tales of the Black Freighter"?

alex-ness said...

I didn't forget either of them, I perhaps ignored them.