Ooh, look there's Johnny Depp! And Orlando Bloom! Aren't they pretty? But do they steal cars, terrorize an island and fight rival gangs? And they call themselves pirates! Well avast matey, and all that pirate speak, because Image Comics is bringing you "The Pirates Of Coney Island" this October. With indie favorite Rick Spears handling the writing and lettering, Vasilis Lolos doing the art and color, and Becky Cloonan handling alternate covers, you can rest assured that this is in no way your average pirate comic book. Spears spoke with CBR News about the series and explained it's unique premise.
"'The Pirates of Coney Island' is a riotous, teenage, romp through young love, car jacking and gang violence," said the author. "The Pirates are a gang of runaways that steal cars and generally terrorize Coney Island. Their rivals are the Cherries, a girl gang that is tying to move on the Pirates territory. In the first issue we arrive in Coney Island with a runaway who's soon to be called Patch. Patch gets jumped by the Cherries and gets his eye sliced out by Trish, their wicked bad leader. Across town, Sal, a pizza selling bookie, meets a nasty end delivered by a monstrous shadow with a shotgun and a big black Cadillac. In issue 2 we finally meet the Pirates when the cops bust Patch pick pocketing the boardwalk and the Pirates sail to his rescue in their bad mother Pirate van! The cops give good chase but they are no match for Knievel's 3 gears of reverse -- oh, yeah! Then it's free food at a hot dog eating contest until the barfing starts. Can comics really be this awesome? Yep."
A series with this kind of premise has to have a fun group of eclectic characters and luckily for readers, offbeat is Spears' specialty. "First there are the Pirates," he explained. "Black Jack: 15 or 16 he's been on the street so long he's not sure. Jack is the leader of the Pirates and it's said that there is nothing with a motor he can start in under 20 seconds. Knievel: 16 The crazy ass, daredevil driver of the Pirates' Pirate van. Tats: 15 The tattooed boy and the muscle. Zeus: 10 but can pass for as young as 7 or 8. Zeus doesn't talk but he's the look out and sees all. Patch: 15 He's the new kid in town.
"Then we have the Cherries. Little is known about the bad ass Cherries other than their weapons of choice. Trish: The leader - switchblade. Bubbles: 1st officer - Bubble gum and broken bottles. Darcy: The driver - The 'love handle.' Heather: All kinds of mean – Nunchakus. Cleo: The kid – Shuriken.
"The shadowy 'Hitman' is another pivotal character and his car – Cadillacula."
While some writers of Pirate stories have found the Caribbean to be their venue of choice, Spears' choice of Coney Island certainly sets his story apart from the rest. "Coney Island is like this magical place off on the edge of the world where wild and amazing things are possible or at least so it seems," says Spears of why he chose the locale. "It's a weird example of the American dream, filled with fun and hope but also dark, dangerous, neglected and now fallen into disrepair."
As you can see from the art in this interview, "The Pirates Of Coney Island" has a unique style of art, both on the penciling and coloring side. The inspiration for the look came from both Spears and Lolos. "With 'The Pirates' I always wanted something fun and edgy in the art," explained the writer. "Something that captured the sort of dizzying, cotton candy, funnel cake fueled, color and noise of Coney Island midway. I had been working on the script for a while and as Vasilis and I started working on Valentine, I started to see just how truly awesome his work was and then I knew he was the guy for 'The Pirates.' Then once we got started, Vasilis just ran with it, from characters to the cars to Coney Island itself, Vasilis has made it all his own. We even got him to New York for a bit and me, Vasilis and Becky went to Coney Island to soak in the vibe and take a bunch of reference pics.
"You mentioned the color and if you've seen the pages you've seen his wild palette. He showed me the first 10 pages and they were all done in purple and pinks. It was crazy, brilliant and perfect Coney Island."
As for the secret origin of "Pirates" itself, well, it's not so complicated. "Well, Becky was visiting NYC and she was supposed to stay with infamous comic artists Brandon Graham but he up and mysteriously 'disappeared' for the day and so she crashed at my place," revealed Spears. "Becky had a copy of one of Vasilis' books he had sent her from Greece. I was blown away by his work and got Becky to hook me up with his email. We bounced email back and forth from NY and Greece and started to work on Valentine. In the meantime Rob G and I had started working on a book called 'Repo' for Image and getting to know those guys. I ended up pitching Image 'The Pirates to Coney Island,' too. Image said yes and so here we are."
Look for the "Pirates of Coney Island" this October from Image Comics.
CBR Staff Writer Arune Singh Contributed To This Story