We got a chance to chat with the creator of the strip, Brad Perri, about the origins of Pirate Mike and some of the comic creation lessons he's learned along the way.
GoComics: How was Pirate Mike originally conceived? Like, as an idea, not the story of how his parents met.
Brad Perri: I was doodling and my pen caught on the edge of the paper and left a blob of ink. A common game we all play, of course, is to try to change a mistake into an actual drawing of something, so I turned that blob into a sword and, of course, a sword needs someone to hold it and this little doodle of a pirate showed up for the job! Eventually, I received excellent feedback from a number of very good readers that felt Mike's world needed a bit more of a kind of internal "logic" to it, so I came up with the idea that he was indeed a real pirate from the 18th century who had been cursed to live in the suburbs. So there he is now! Pirate Mike: Cursed To Live In The Suburbs!
GC: Is Pirate Mike a metaphor for living in the suburbs and settling into family life? Or is it simply a reason to use the word "scalawag" as often as possible? Both are lofty goals, of course.
BP: He's both and more (I hope)! I like to think of Mike as my continuing effort at a bit of a comic strip fable in some respects, but I don't want to overthink it or get too fancy-pants about it because that's when things stop being funny, in my opinion. Plus, Mike would get annoyed, and when he gets annoyed, he gets difficult, so I try to avoid it.
GC: Who is your favorite character to write dialogue for?
BP: Oh, Mike, definitely. He's just ridiculous, and being able to put contemporary expressions into pirate-speak makes me chuckle every time. Plus, I think pirate-speak also adds a quality of sound to the strip. I have had a few people tell me that they can almost hear Pirate Mike when he talks, and I think that's because we all kind of know how a cartoon pirate is supposed to sound, so Mike just plugs right into that. And, voila! The comic strip now has a soundtrack!
GC: A lot of newer comics choose to use single-panel or graphic novel-style formatting, but you've chosen the classic three- and four-panel format. Can you tell me a little about why you made that choice?
BP: I genuinely wish I knew, but I think I can guess at it. First, it's what I fell in love with. It's also the format all the strips I love have used in the past. Plus, I don't think my sensibility lends itself well to single-panel or graphic novel-style formatting. A newspaper-style comic strip has its own daily rhythm, which I have always loved. It's just like every day is adding a new dot to the picture until you pull back after a certain amount of time and can suddenly see a bigger whole.
We look forward to hearing more from Pirate Mike and Brad! Remember to follow Pirate Mike on GoComics.com here!