What Did I Learn?
weekly webcomic reviews by Delos
(this is a repost)
The Horrible Pirates by Viper Comics is a crazy, wacky kind of comic that screams constantly forward to some ill advised and doomed fate. Really. I don’t know how the current storyline will end, but the phrase “doomed fate” is an understatement. Which is kind of offputing since The Horrible Pirates is a humor comic. This, of course, requires some deviation from how you might normally look at this comic.
It is filled with these little quips and side jokes that are very amusing. The story constantly takes these weaves and turns and I defy anyone to try to predict what will happen next. It is at this point that I would normally talk about the characters, but the story changes so much that I think it best if you read the comic and meet them for yourself as they are introduced and their stories…play out.
Nevertheless, these Horrible Pirates (aptly named, by the way) not only do quite a lot of piratey sorts of things, but they also kill time with shuffleboard and video games. At port, some are drinking out of soda cans off school lunch trays while others are quaffing ales in mugs. It very much reminds of that comic your high school friend did that was just for your group of friends to enjoy. The Horrible Pirates is better than that, of course, but it is definitely done in the same spirit of fun.
There are plenty of surprises, such as getting “monkey slapped.” I dare you to find that sort of event anywhere but in The Horrible Pirates. There are a few amusing intermissions as well, with one where the artist is told to stop telling so much story and do more pirate stuff. That’s pretty clever and so is the result: the next strip after it. There are also a few spots where the strip has to pause and explain something. If this were any other comic, I would say it was an error in the storytelling. However, since the Horrible Pirates has a good number of asides and non-standard storytelling techniques, it is my opinion that this is a regular part of the show, so to speak.
There’s a certain amount of expectation you might have when it comes to pirate themes. You might expect that when (for instance) food gets wet with sea water, it is ruined and unfit to eat. You’ll need to belay that expectation. Remember to watch for this: The treasure map is written on a napkin So, don’t hold this comic too closely to real life. A napkin would have failed to make it out of the very next panel after it was introduced, let alone last through as many bad things as it has. The strip’s concept is pure craziness and takes you along for the ride.
Fortunately, the art matches the writing. It’s solidly drawn with fun details and yet stays very cartoonish. This is perfectly fitting, because I do have to warn you that the piratey-ness does include its fair share of blood and some other very, very strange things. I am also reminded of the Jason and the Argonauts and Sinbad black and white movies. There are things that happen in those movies that can’t happen in any other way and likewise the things that happen in the comic would be horribly difficult to render well. A more realistic style would not fit the Horrible Pirates very well at all. Side note: I enjoy the scratchy, uneven panel borders and I may have to steal borrow the idea myself.
What did I learn?
Keep to your themes and slave every bit you can to them. Don’t be afraid to part from standard realism (remember the snowmen that Calvin & Hobbes used to make?) Have an intermission strip available to post if you’re going to miss an update. Don’t be afraid to poke fun at yourself and break a few rules if you want to. the Horrible Pirates offers us a great chance to let down our hair and enjoy the ride.