O Say Can You See: The Greatest Patriotic Super Heroes of All-Time
Man, I’ve been excited about this for. Ever.
I heard about it, I saw some preview art, I put in on my pull-list.
Copies Never Made it to Iowa.
I cried bitter tears of rage.
I swore revenge to the very heavens themselves.
But now there’s a collected edition.
Which I assumed was gonna be the best thing ever.
And I brought it home to find..
I was pretty much right.
NowI have a bit of a pirate fetish anyway. Or at least a fictional pirate fetish – I’m not so much into the pillaging and rape and murder but I dig the iconography, and I’m always amused how the pillaging and rape and murder is de-fanged BY the iconography.
I was gonna point out that I was into pirates before Talk Like a Pirate Day and the popular-culture acceptance of the Flying Spaghetti Monster, but mostly I just feel gratified when culture – at least the nerdy parts of culture- share and/or reflect my weird ass interests.
I blame Watchmen for the whole thing. Everybody else’s pirate love, and mine. (I always liked the Pirate Sequences better than the superhero scenes. And am fond of arguing this point. Loudly. While drunk.)
So for a guy who has “Anything with Pirates” on his comic shop pull list –
– Side Note: My pull list is scientifically designed to drive the shop dudes insane. It’s all irregularly released min-comics (Lucky, Reich) , creators regardless of WHAT they do (Steve Gerber, Kim Deitch, Jason) , and types of comics (Pirates, Dinosaurs, Team-Up books), along with a bunch of magazines, and something like one regular monthly title. I’m very proud of it –
Finding a pirate comic that’s this good is like manna from heaven.
– Side Note: Not that I know what that is. I have this mental image of, like, glowing ‘Nilla Wafers.
Anyway, I’m pretty sure that CPG is my favorite American Pirate Comic Ever – And considering that I even like Terrible Pirate Comics
(I couldn’t find a decent link to Jamie Delano’s RAWBONE series, my apologies)
That’s saying something.
So I thought I’d talk about why this comic is so good, in convenient list format.
1) Angst-Free Heroine:
My very, VERY favorite comic heroes are the ones who have bad stuff happen to them. But don’t angst about it.
Cursed Pirate Girl (who as far as I remember only goes by “Cursed Pirate Girl,” which is awesome) has the requisite tragic past. She’s an orphan, she’s separated from her father And here present ain’t much better: she lives in a mud hut on the beach, she’s persecuted by the government and etcetera.
And she deals with all this by DEALING WITH IT.
There’s no moral uncertainty. There’s no hesitation to the CPG. When she’s forced into a serving-wench position by an evil pirate captain she eats his dinner, dumps a bowl of stew on his head and lights him on fire.
Because he was a jerk, and that felt like the right thing to do, and she figures it will work out fine.
When her dad leaves, as soon as she can, she sets off for the Omerta Seas to find him.
I tellya people this kind of straightforward whimsy (to quote my blogpal Johnny Bacardi) is so refreshing after a superhero-and-memoir heavy comic diet.
2) It’s full of Cool Stuff.
Mutant turkeys! Skeleton Ghosts! Talking Parrots! Swordfishes in Armor! Miniature Dragons! Secret Skeletal Hands that come out of books bearing treasure maps! MALE Walruses! And the governor’s daughter swears revenge!
2) The Art.
Although I grantcha it took me a while to get used to.
Jeremy A. Bastion packs a lot of detail on every page. A LOT. OF DETAIL .ON EVERY PAGE.
And that’s not my thing. I’m a Tothian at heart. I tend to prefer comics that have some room to breathe. I like abstract. Simple. Clean. Lotsa negative space.
But damned if CPG didn’t win me over by sheer work ethic and creativity.
Here’s our heroine and her friends (including the cutest little dogfish y’ever did see) getting attacked by an octopus that’s so big it can reach right across panel borders!
First lets note that this page is a pretty nice overall piece ‘o design – the panel borders in the center their provide symmetry, and draw our eyes to the most important thing on the page. (“YIKES!”) But more’n that, it’s using this GREAT BIG HULKING MONSTER that’s so big that his head isn’t even on the page despite the fact he’s in every panel – to anchor the page in time.
In virtually every comic I’ve ever read, one panel equals one moment. The next panel equals another moment. But here, after the top panel, everything is happening at once! He’s not using the panels to define periods of time – we’re in octopus time now! – but to make the page easier to read.
And there’s something like this on every page. Bastian has obviously both worked his ass off on the actual drawing and sat down and thunk about how to make the storytelling of each and every page, each and every panel, cool and interesting.
3) Silver Lettering on the Cover
Everything is cooler with silver lettering. It’s one of the fundamental principles of the universe. Like toast landing butter-side-up and cats only coming up to people that hate them.
4) The Character Designs.
There’s a lot of strange, strange looking people in CPG – And they all look weird AND different from each other. Y’gotta admire the imagination and the pure variety of ways Bastion devises to distort and freakyupafy the human figure.
Here’s the governor…
The Pirate Ship’s cook…
And an evillll minion, sent to do away with our heroine.
6) Word Balloons Shaped Like Horses and… Is That a Shell? A Cup?
I’ve read… well, quite a few comics. Any time anyone can give me the “Dag, I never seen THAT before” rush, there’s a good chance I’m loyal for life.
7) It Really is full of Cool Stuff. A Mouse in a Dinosaur Costume!
And Super-Detailed Drawings of Pirate Ships
This is basically porn to me.
8) The audio Dramedy (Which hasn’t actually happened yet) includes Grant Morrison and Dave McKean on the Cast List.
I’m always interested in seeing my favorite creators do new and different things. Like when Charles Mingus wrote this.
This here comic is targeted at children, and I’m not sure how effective it will be at reaching the rug-rat set. I’ve read sixteen gazillion comics, and I found it slightly difficult to figure out what was going on in some panels – And I can only imagine that comic newbies would have much more difficulty Most of the really successful All Ages comic series, historically, have been clean, clear, and easy to read. Think Bone, Babymouse, Carl Bark’s Uncle Scrooge or Little Lulu. Kids don’t give two craps about formal experimentation – They just wanna be able to get lost in the story. And, oddly, the constant formal innovation interferes with that.
But it sure did bring a smile to this crusty old dude’s face.
Cursed! Pirate! Girl!
Cursed! Pirate! Girl!
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