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Thoughts from the Land of Frost :
CrossGen Talks Pirates By Alexander Ness
If there's one genre almost everyone loves, it's gotta be pirates. From the swagger to the exciting adventure tales, stories of the peg-legged scoundrels of the blue waters have captivated audiences for generations. Now CrossGen Comics is dipping its wick into the seven seas with EL CAZADOR, a new comic by writer Chuck Dixon and artist Steve Epting.
Slush's Alexander Ness spoke with Dixon and CrossGen's marketing guru Bill Rosemann about what fans can expect from the book.
Alex Ness: How have retailers and media responded to a pirate saga such as this?
Bill Rosemann: They're all jumping onboard! It looks like the entire comics industry -- including retailers, readers and the media -- are happy that more publishers are willing to explore all sorts of genres. Chuck's interviews are revealing that he really knows his pirate lore...and everyone is "ohhing" and "ahhing" over Steve's promo art!
AN: Has the current Pirates of the Caribean movie helped or hurt?
BR: While El Cazador was planned long before the movie lit up screens across the country, it's definitely helping readers and retailers to get pumped up for more pirates!
AN to Chuck Dixon: What Pirate comics have you read, Chuck? Mostly just EC?
CD: There's not much else to choose from in comics history. The Eisner-Iger studio produced a regular pirate feature called Hawks of the Sea back in the Golden Age. I was also fond of Captain Fear, a back feature at DC in the '70s drawn by Alex Nino. And there's the great pirate story-in-a-story in Watchmen. My favorite comic of all time; Fantastic Four #5 has pirates in it.
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AN: Obviously you are quite mad, aren't you? i.e. reintroducing Pirates into the comic market?
CD: Crazy as a loon. There's absolutely no precedent for a pirate monthly and no indication that there's a market for one. And there's a reason the genre was never taken seriously in comics form: drawing those ships over and over again is impossible! But Steve Epting's middle name is Impossible.
AN: Has it been the existence of CrossGen and your presence there that inspired you to pitch such a project, or were you determined to do this sometime someplace eventually, sooner or later?
CD: I wanted to do a pirate comic for the longest time. I got to play in the genre a time or two with Elseworlds stories at DC. But never the fullblown ongoing treatment. It took a guy as crazy about the age of piracy as me to make it happen. Mark Alessi loves them buccaneers.
AN: Which historical pirates have you looked at as character models for this series?
CD: Anne Bonny, Mary Read, Blackbeard, Captain Kidd and that crowd. Blackbeard's my favorite. That guy was intense! He used to set fire to his own ship to force his crew to board the one they were attacking.
AN: What are the greatest obstacles to this kind of work succeeding?
CD: The research and the great demands in drawing a period piece like this.
AN: If this works and sets the world afire, do you think that you've just opened the door for more genres or was it right time right place, ain't going to happen beyond this...?
CD: I'd love it if this strated a wave of historical adventures. It's my favorite area of fiction and comics readers need something other than superheroes, horror and hardboiled crime to choose from.
AN: Is there a long held subject that you have yet to attempt, that your work on El Cazador will give you the impetus to pitch? What remains forgotten as far as genre goes in general?
CD: A Western. A serious, ongoing Western comic.
AN: Better pirate: Beau Smith or Tim Bradstreet?
CD: Beau Smith, of course. But Tim does have the tats and favors a bandana now and then. But Tim's too laidback for boarding parties and floggings. Beau would be a winning pirate captain since the best pirates were shameless self-promoters.
AN: A trick question, Beau is the obvious real answer but Tim Bradstreet is a GIANT Pittsburgh Pirates fan, so he might also be a better pirate.
All comic publishers and creative talent are welcome to submit items to be reviewed. Send items, to be considered for review, to:
Alexander Ness Land of Frost Box 142 Rockford MN 55373-0142