Normal? Normal's overrated. That's what Cursed Pirate Girl writer and artist Jeremy Bastian would probably say, particularly given the choice between hanging out in the normal real world and the strange and magical realm of the Omerta Seas. Bastian's ornate art work and whimsical storytelling will adorn this summer's Cursed Pirate Girl collected edition from Archaia, as well as four-page story in Archaia's FCBD hardcover.
We spoke with Bastian about creating the world of Cursed Pirate Girl and taking the book from its crowdsourced roots to quitting his job and making comics full-time.
.MTV Geek: Tell us about the genesis of Cursed Pirate Girl. What’s it all about?
Jeremy Bastian: Cursed Pirate Girl [CPG] comes from my love of story book characters. Like Alice of Wonderland, Peter of Neverland, Nemo of Slumberland and Dorothy of OZ. I wanted to create an iconic character that would be similar to those who've come before but unlike them at the same time. Alice and Dorothy were displaced into their respective realms and were trying to get home, Peter was as much a part of Neverland as Tink, and Nemo was more of a tourist in Slumberland. The difference with CPG is she starts off in the "normal world" where she doesn't belong and goes to the magical waters of the Omerta Seas to find her rightful place. So yes she's trying to get "home" but her home is the wonderland. She was raised in a world that she didn't belong in therefore when she does reach the Omertas she's still an outsider who's trying to find a place in "her" world. Her father has visited her in her dreams to tell her stories of the Omertas and to teach her how to survive there. So even when it gets strange she's not bothered by it, she's driven by the need to belong to a family and she knows she has a father who cares for her.
The question remains "why was she abandoned"?
MTV Geek: Who are some of the notable characters readers should be on the lookout for?
Bastian: PepperDice the parrot is her first link to the Omerta Seas and becomes a guide to take her back to the black waters of her birthplace. He gets her through the doorway into the world of which they both belong. The Swordfish Brothers: Sir Halek and Sir Haftu, these are the first creatures that CPG and PepperDice come in contact with in the world of the Omerta Seas and they agree to help escort her on her perilous journey. Jacob Fishghill, the cook on the pirate ship Carrion befriends CPG and aids her in her search for her father and warns her of the dangers she will face.
MTV Geek: How would you describe your art style and the look of Cursed Pirate Girl?
Bastian: I draw CPG with considerable care, I wanted to create a world where the spectator/reader could be lost in a panel for quite some time. A book drawn in an antique style that reminisces artists that influence me and are what I love most in art. In an age of everything being at your fingertips with lightning fast convenience I take several deep breaths and take my time. I want to create a book that you have to take time with in order to fully appreciate it. I'm an extremely thorough snail decorating pages with elaborate illustrations of the most bizarre fancies I can dream up.
MTV Geek: How did this collection with Archaia come about?
Bastian: Well I was originally signed with Archaia in the beginning but before they could start publication I was given an offer I could not refuse and decided to publish with a smaller publisher, Olympian Publishing. Olympian had the same aesthetic choices that were my goal and offered me the chance to redirect all my energies into creating CPG. I was able to quit my part-time job and only work on the book. Archaia went through some restructuring and Olympian had helped me to a point where we needed a larger publisher to help bring the book to more people. Of all the companies I discussed taking CPG to, Archaia just seemed the perfect fit. Fortunately, Archaia still had a considerable interest in CPG and still wished to publish it.
MTV Geek: How is the collection being prepared? Archaia is gaining a reputation for going all out for the design and production of their hardcovers.
Bastian: Well I don't want to give away too much but I think it is going to be quite impressive. I have a lot of faith in Archaia producing a spectacular product and with all the "features" I asked for (which they agreed to and even came up with more ideas) I have no doubt it will be a book that just from outward appearance will have people stopping in to take a closer look.
MTV Geek: What was the experience like, going from crowdsourcing the first Cursed Pirate Girl book a couple of years back to landing at Archaia?
Bastian: It's been a long road, but it has definitely been worth it. I think it's awesome! I love comics, I've been attending comic conventions since I was probably 8 years old, I've sat in portfolio review lines for up to 5 hours in a single day just so I could learn what mistakes I was making, I've sat in the audience listening to a panel on how to become a comic book artist and taking notes on everything, I came close to tears almost 11 years ago attending my first San Diego Comic Con thinking I would never make it into the comic business and just yesterday I was on a panel about world building with only two other amazing and award winning artist/creators. It was just the three of us, I contributed to a panel on how to build worlds!
MTV Geek: Could you tell us a little about your FCBD offering?
Bastian: The story that is being published in the FCBD book Archaia is putting out is sort of a brief collection of some of the more memorable pirate captains of the Omerta Seas. I happen to think it is one of my funnier stories and I hope the readers think so as well. It's only 4 pages long so I can't say too much without telling you the entire story. :]
MTV Geek: What’s next for Cursed Pirate Girl? What are you working on next?
Bastian: Well I am working on the second volume of the initial story arc. The next issue is coming along very nicely and will have much more danger, a lot of background exposition, secrets revealed, giant cat fish and an underwater city. I can't wait to show you! And if you thought volume one was fit to burst with ornate borders and impossible creatures, you just wait till you see what's been itching inside my skull waiting for this issue to jump on to.
Cursed Pirate Girl will be available this summer, and Bastian's Free Comic Book Day CPG story will be featured in the Archaia FCBD hardcover coming May 25th.