If like me you’re a complete sucker for pirates and an even bigger sucker for pirates plus magic… then you’re going to like Anne Bonnie from creator Tim Yates. What it comes down for me is Pirates of Dark Water which is an early 90’s cartoon that ran for twenty-one episodes before abruptly ending. Of course I didn’t know that at the time, as a kid I just waited patiently for the new episodes that never arrived. But it was Pirates of Dark Water that gave me my love of pirates and fantasy magic combined and those are the two biggest elements of Anne Bonnie. The story begins at sea where some pirates are attacking a trade ship; one of the men on board signals for help, but they all know that it’s a futile attempt. Back on land some soldiers on wall duty spot the signal… but then don’t send anyone to help. Times are rough because pirates are ruling the seas and the Pirate Queen Anne Bonnie is no longer present to control them.
After this introduction to the world we meet Ariana and Shen, as Shen tells her a story about Anne Bonnie. He stops the story when it gets too mature, but blames the fact that Ariana is playing around while he’s talking. She informs him of the pirate attack happening; he doesn’t quite believe her because she can see it without a telescope, but when he pulls his out to double-check… sure enough he sees the attack we already knew about. They’re interrupted by Lord Firestorm who is upset that Shen is out playing with Ariana instead of doing his work. Shen tells him that he’s noticed some things about Ariana, but Firestorm covers his hand in fire and gives him the pimp hand of all pimp hands smacking Shen to the ground. Lord Firestorm tells him that he’s not a free man and shouldn’t act or think like one.
Later that night Ariana sneaks out to see Shen who is preparing to run away. Before he goes he gives her a “key” and tells her to hold onto it until he returns. Flash-forward years later and Ariana is boarding a ship that is chained up with magic and happens to have a spot made for her “key.”
The idea of a pirate queen or female pirate isn’t a new idea, but the way Tim Yates has approached it is different and unique. The first thing to note is that when a picture of Anne Bonnie is show she’s not the quote-unquote “sexy” pirate, but rather a legit pirate. I think that’s something everyone can appreciate, but more so it plays to the fact that this is an all-ages title; meaning that kids and adults can enjoy it on the same level.
Yates does a wonderful job with the narrative, but more so with the dialogue. It’s very believable and the natural voice of each character comes across. Ariana and Shen’s bond is easy to believe because of their conversation and it happens so quickly that it’s actually pretty impressive how natural it is.
The thing about the art is that it’s the coloring that gives it an all-ages vibe. The colors are very vibrant and have an animated look. I hate to bring up Avatar – The Last Airbender, because of the obvious fire and fantasy connection, but it does remind me of that color palette in many ways.
The art itself is very detailed. The characters have unique designs and there is a worldly sense to the book as we see different nationalities throughout the story. Yates excels at facial expressions; from Lord Firestorm’s angry disposition, to Ariana’s youthful glee and sense of rebellion. There is some action, it’s not all sword fights and cannons, but it’s all very detailed and easy to follow. It’s also very intense when it needs to be. Overall the art is wonderful and a very powerful aspect of this story.
I was glad that I stumbled upon Anne Bonnie this week; I didn’t read a lot of stories with strong female characters and so this was a nice surprise. I know that I said its all-ages, but please don’t be fooled into think that it’s for kids only. If you really give this book a shot it’ll surprise and impress you. I know I’ll be back for the next issue, but hopefully you will too.
Writer/Artist/Creator: Tim Yates Co-Writer: Lelan Estes Layout Artist: Tony Vassallo Publisher: Blue Juice Comics Price: $3.99 Release Date: 3/19/14