There’s a truism in comics that “everybody knows”. Pirate comics don’t sell. However. every piece of common wisdom needs to be shattered at one time or another, and we were just the scurvy knaves to do it. Sit back, sip your rum, and let me tell you the true tale of how we made a pirate comic!
Last year, I had a brilliant student in one of my classes. Naomi Hanson had many different interests and passions, and one of them was the history of real-life pirates. She was quite the expert and delivered lectures at academic conferences nationwide on the subject.
After hearing about her lectures – shiver my timbers – I thought about how to take it to the next level. I explained to Naomi that I had vision of a Pirate Panel at San Diego Comic-Con. I knew it would be a long shot making that happen, but she was game to try.
The ideas were accepted by the panel committee at San Diego Comic-Con. I knew she’d be great onstage. I recruited another panelist, renowned library science expert Krista Rozanski. I would be moderator. The mizzen masts were about to be hoisted, and we were ready.
Then the storm clouds gathered, and we discovered that our panel was now scheduled at the exact same time a pirate walk was planned at the comic-con. “There goes our audience,” I lamented.
We forged ahead. The good news was that the panel was…a smashing success. Naomi and Krista were fantastic onstage. And surprisingly, the panel room was packed! And we were in one of the bigger rooms! For whatever reason, it was a pirate miracle. I think the fact of the matter is that there just a lot of pirate fans. And let me tell you; these pirate fans are eager to learn more and embrace everything pirate-y!
The Pirate Pitch
You might know Craig Yoe as a creator with a fresh vision, as a tireless fighter on the side of the angels, or “just” as a publisher. I knew him as all three, and after that panel, I knew I had to pitch him on creating a compilation of classic pirate comic stories.
I have enjoyed so many of his YOE Books publications, most recently his Haunted Horror and Jungle Girl books, and sure enough, I found him on the convention floor, as he was digging through longboxes from various dealers to find the next treasures for his latest publication.
His gaze narrowed as I told him the tale of the Pirate panel’s success. He slowly realized there were treasures to be plundered with this notion.
We agreed to set sail on this publishing adventure!
It’s Takes a Village to Run a Pirate Operation (sort of)
We needed help in locating all the best original Pirate comics for the book, and it wasn’t easy. I enlisted a lot of help. There were so many folks who donated time, effort and comics to the cause. Two swabbies of particular note were Teddy Hanes and the super collector he introduced me to: John Ferrante.
John is a great guy. He’s one of those collectors who celebrates comics and is eager to leverage his monumental comic collection for the greater good. What, I ask you, could be a greater good than reprinting old pirate comics?
As we assembled our new Pirate Book, I couldn’t help but think of the many kind volunteers who knotted their bandana a little tighter and adjusted their pirate eyepatch in order to provide such amazing help.
The collection is officially called Pirates: A Treasure Of Comics To Plunder, Arrr! It’s edited by both Craig Yoe and myself, and published through Clover Press. This is the innovative new publisher helmed by Ted Adams, who you all know from IDW.
Here’s the official write-up:
Yoe-Ho-Ho! The same scurvy dogs who brought you Haunted Horror now share this booty: “Pirates”! Swashbuckling artists the likes of Frank Frazetta, Reed Crandall, Graham Ingels, Dick Briefer, etc. give ya complete comics stories to plunder, arrr! Plus feast on art by bilge rats Wally Wood, Bernard Krigstein, Carl Burgos, Howard Pyle, and, yarrr, more! Avast ye, prepare to set sail, matey!
I feel like we should hide a few copies in treasure chests and bury them in front of comic shops across America.
A Tale of Two Treasures
For this special book, the good folks at Clover have devised two editions.
We’re calling Pirates: A Treasure Of Comics To Plunder, Arrr! a graphic novella trade paperback, (which to me means a very robust comic book). It runs aground in comic shops this March 18th. The Diamond code is DEC191593 and it’s just $12.99 if you want to ask your local comic store to reserve you a copy.
There is a special edition, limited to only 250 exclusive copies. This one sports a gorgeous Howard Pyle cover. Comics-wise, this is of historical significance as Reed Crandall based his cover to EC’s Piracy on this iconic painting. You can buy this particular treasure here, and all pre-orders ship on March 11th.
Another Pirate Panel
At ITHACON 45 this year (the nation’s second longest running comic convention, nipping at the heels of SDDC), we’ll be celebrating Pirate comics in a big way. The show is March 21 & 22, and we’ll be celebrating the publication of Pirates: A Treasure Of Comics To Plunder, Arrr!
But it gets better. At the ITHACON Pirate panel, we’ll also focus on a new pirate book coming from one of the convention guests, writer Stephanie Phillips. A Man Among Ye celebrates the life of Anne Bonny and will be on sale in May courtesy of Image Comics.
Quite the adventure, eh? Join us – there’s plenty of room onboard our Pirate ship!