Avast, ye lily-livered sons o' biscuit eaters! Guess what day it be? If'n you be squawkin' that it's International Talk Like a Pirate Day, then you be right, me hearty. What better way to celebrate this finest of days than by
walking the plank reading about the greatest pirate comic of 'em all? Raise the Jolly Roger and swab the poop deck, mateys, and then join me inside! (Where are all the previous columns? Why, in the Arrrrrchive!)
262. Scurvy Dogs
Okay, I'm going to drop the pirate speak now, lest it cause us all terrible anguish. I've been planning this Scurvy Dogs entry since the very beginning of this column. After all, how could I forsake Talk Like a Pirate Day? And yes, forgive me for the archive joke; I couldn't resist. Also, I apologize for my awful, crooked scans ahead of time. Curse those books with, like, spines and stuff!
A few years back, pirates were all the rage. They were the hip new things. Naturally, comics took several turns at the genre, but nothing was better than Scurvy Dogs, the rip-roarin', side-splittin' humorous adventure comic thingie from madmen Andrew Boyd and Ryan Yount, published by AiT/PlanetLar. It immediately blew all other pirate-related competition out of the water (har har) and went so far as to proclaim that "pirates are the new monkeys."
The concept was thus: a group of classic-themed pirates get into bizarre situations in the modern day. Then you've got the characters-- Captain Blackbeard, McDougal the strongman, Jefe the, uh, crazy Spaniard, Pappy, the old guy with the eyepatch, hook hand, and peg leg (he got stuck with all the cliched dismemberments), and Irish Pete, the mute scrapper. They're all gloriously insane, and all just trying to get by-- whether it involves fighting monkeys or Portuguese lepers or the hobo mafia or a reject from Buck Rogers or vikings from the future ("eat Viking Neural disruptor ray gun!"), or maybe just finding a day job, selling out to the media, dealing with family, or putting up with Admiral Goofyfoot, they do it in style. Boy, that was a run-on sentence. Anyway.
I love the humor in Scurvy Dogs. The book is quite possibly the funniest comic I've ever read. Now, to appreciate the kind of comedy in this comic, you've got to love absurdity and constant pop culture references-- it's the comic book equivalent of Adult Swim. From Andy and Mickey Rooney to Menudo, every corner of pop culture is beautifully savaged. Then you've just got the weird stuff, like what happens to the Portuguese lepers, the inventive use of Lyme disease, the secret origins of the crew, the pair of pages drawn in crayon, and the fact that Pappy wears a collander on his head for two issues. And if you can't find the inherent awesomeness and hilarity in monkeys or hobos, than I cannot help you. Everything's infused with wit, from the wordplay to the plots to the mindless violence.
Since it's a comic, I have to talk about the art. While Boyd and Yount co-wrote it, the art's all Yount. You can easily trace the evolution of his style over the course of the series. The very first story is a little stiff and coarsely inked, but as the comic progresses, Yount's art limbers up and becomes more expressive and cartoony. It's not going to be the best-drawn comic you've ever seen-- and it might disappoint you if you're a big fan of backgrounds-- but it sells the humor and gets better and better as it goes along.
And, for the record, here's my favorite sequence in the series. I fell over laughing the first time I read it:
Pick up the trade paperback. It not only includes all five issues of the series, but it's also got a massive commentary track from Boyd and Yount, a few extra stories, sketches, and a pin-up gallery, among other things. Trust me. It's the best pirate humor comic you'll ever read. Oh, and check out the official website, even if it hasn't been updated in a long time. I'm hoping and praying that, one day, those brilliantly twisted lunatics named Boyd and Yount see fit to bring us a new installment of Scurvy Dogs.