Jeremy Bastian - The Return of Cursed Pirate Girl

Bastian on Cursed Pirate Girl

Cursed Pirate Girl #1 (original cover) Cursed Pirate Girl #1 (original cover)

Avast, ye Newsarama readers! Here now an’ listen!

Last year, we showed some preview art from Cursed Pirate Girl, a new series that was then going to be published by ASP. Reader response was overwhelmingly positive, but unfortunately, behind-the-scenes issues resulted in its delay.

But now, Cursed Pirate Girl is back from Davy Jones’ Locker and is ready to set sail for comic shops around the world. Creator Jeremy Bastian, upon threat of a keel-hauling, did reveal the terrible secrets of this seafarin’ lass. Grab a bottle of rum and read on ‘less ye wish to walk the plank.

Newsarama: First off, Jeremy, who be this Curse'd Pirate Girl?

Jeremy Bastian: Well, Cursed Pirate Girl is an orphan who lives on the beach beneath a ruined dock. She lives in a very carefree way, she has little to do with manners, she makes up stories and lies, and she's not afraid to get into a fight.

Beneath the bravado, though, she is very lonely. She has dreams of a father she has never met and in these dreams he teaches her how to handle a sword and tells her stories of a place called the Omerta Seas. What she wants most in the world is to find her father, to find the place where she will be loved.

NRAMA: Tell us a little about yourself and your background.

JB: I grew up in Ypsilanti, Minnesota. where I now live with my brother Jason and my soon-to-be wife Emily. I left Ypsilanti after high school to attend the Art Institute of Pittsburgh, and after two years I returned to refine my craft.

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I spend little time outside the house. I do, however, appreciate a good camping trip out in the wilderness. I love the natural world; I have seen many interesting things in the woods. It helps fuel my curiosity and imagination to be in a place that isn't built by men, but wizened by the elements. I always try to keep an eye out for the impossible and magical. Imagination is my favorite drawing tool.

NRAMA: How long have you been working on this project?

JB: I've been working on CPG for about three and a half years.

NRAMA: Now, the book was delayed a bit from its original release -- though the preview pages made quite an impression on our Newsarama readers. Tell us a little about that, if it's okay with you.

JB: Well, I'm not sure what is appropriate to relay on this subject. It was delayed due to financial difficulties at Archaia Studios Press, at which time Mark Smiley agreed to let anyone who wanted to find other publishing arrangements.

It was very hard to leave ASP, but I did when a friend of mine told me he wanted very badly to publish CPG. It was further delayed due to the fact it takes me a very long time to complete pages. I decided I would only start to put books out when I had completed a good portion.

NRAMA: You started the book as a self-published black-and-white book, and then did a sepia-toned version for ASP. From the different versions, have you redrawn the book any?

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JB: The only difference with what was being solicited from Archaia the first time around is that the book is now black and white and not color. This is one of the reasons I had for putting the book into Olympian hands. I think it looks best in b&w.

The first printing of issue one has a new wrap-around cover that will be printed on handmade paper. Other than that I'm just to busy to redraw anything, not to say I wouldn't if I could... heh heh. Working on the following issues in the series ,I look back and cringe in places a little bit. I am definitely my own worst critic, as are so many of us.

NRAMA: Who are some of your artistic influences?

JB: In the comic world I love the works of Mike Mignola, Guy Davis, Arthur Adams, Gary Gianni, Travis Charest and Chris Bachalo, to name a few. Some of my all-time favorite artists are Yoshitaka Amano, Arthur Rackham, Winsor McCay, Gustave Dore, Walter Crane, Joseph Clement Coll and N. C. Wyeth. I also love the works of Mark Ryden, Tara McPherson, Gail Potocki, Keith Thompson, Camille Rose Garcia, and James Jean.

NRAMA: The page design for this book is extremely eye-catching,. What’s your process for designing a page?

JB: I start out thumbnailing the entire book from the script I wrote. Usually, the first impression on the panel layout is the best one, the gut feeling. I really only change that if there is something fundamentally wrong with the storytelling within the page. I have certain things I love to draw, like creatures or ornate sculptural elements, so when I know that a specific page will fulfill my need to create something like that I go overboard.

Not completely satisfied with just the image though, I design borders and flourishes that try to elevate it to another level. When I was doing the series in color, due to the fact that Archaia did not want to publish a black-and-white book, I didn't want to wash over the line work with too much. A full-color book was right out. I wanted to create something that belonged to a different age, so I went with a much smaller palette and then toned the lines a bit redder, to give it a sepia quality and an aged look.

NRAMA: In terms of the narrative, what were some of the influences on this story?

JB: I guess I went with the Wizard of Oz in a more Wonderland-like world, only due to the idea of a girl on a journey who picks up friends along the way, and comes across some very outlandish creatures.

I sat down and wrote the script out over a period of three weeks. I wrote it on continuous-feed computer paper the kind with the tear-away strips on the side with tract holes. I had certain scenes in my head that I knew I wanted to do, so I just started writing and that was that.

NRAMA: For whatever reason, I am obsessed with Cursed Pirate Girl's hat. How did you come up with that design?

JB: I just drew it on one of the first images I ever did of Cursed Pirate Girl and it kinda stuck... uh, that's about it. She kinda loses it after issue one, but she will get it back by the end of the series.

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NRAMA: What else are you working on?

JB: To break up the oppressive weight of the book, I have done a couple of portfolios. These are like little desserts for me. I work on pages until it gets to be a little monotonous and then take a little time off to do something individual.

I don't have time to really work on any other projects right now. I will be taking some extra time off when I complete issue three, I have a gallery show that will be going up in September, and I'll be working on that. There will be lots of CPG material that will be going into the show including some pieces that will be for the second story arc continuing the tales of the Cursed Pirate Girl.

NRAMA: Anything you'd like to talk about that we haven't discussed yet?

JB: Sure, I'd like to mention a little bit of my actual process, as it's something that people find a bit intriguing. I work at 100 percent, that is to say what you see in the book is how big it is drawn and I draw it all with a brush. I only use a tech pen for word balloons and gutters. It's a size 00 brush – not as small as a single hair brush, but it does have a nice line to it. I couldn't get a small enough line with a pen for my liking and so I tried a brush and that worked just fine.

Cursed Pirate Girl #1 (of 3) is coming to loot and pillage comic shops this April from Olympian Publishing. If ye wish to purchase a copy, set sail to ye local retailer and pre-order yon copy! And if ye wish to see more preview art, head over to www.jeremybastian.com. Arrr!

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