Jeremy Bastian’s Cursed Pirate Girl has a cult following for its detailed, dreamlike retro-fantasy tale of…well, a Cursed Pirate Girl (or, as she’s known to fans, “CPG”). Influenced by such classic fantasy tales as Alice in Wonderland, it’s gone from a small-press project to a Kickstarter sensation that raised more than $36,000 for a collected edition to a mass-market edition from Archaia. But one question has lingered on fans’ minds: When is there going to be more?
The series’ incredibly intricate artwork means that new installments take time, but the wait for a new installment of the story will end this June with Cursed Pirate Girl Annual #1, featuring 52 all-new pages of adventure on (and under) the high seas – and some of the strangest creatures you’ll ever see in comics.
We spoke with Bastian about the new story, the process of creating it, and what the future holds for Cursed Pirate Girl.
Newsarama: Tell us about this Cursed Pirate Girl Annual #1. Where do we find our one-eyed protagonist?
Jeremy Bastian: It starts out right where volume one ended. CPG is in the bowels of the pirate ship Honey Boar and she's met a very informative and inebriated pirate. CPG has a revelation that sets her on a treasure hunt.
Nrama: How does it feel to have this new volume out, and how long did it physically take you to complete this part of the story?
Bastian: It feels really good. I'm a little afraid to calculate exactly how long it took to complete this chapter. I've been telling people almost three years. I think that's pretty accurate.
To work on something like this for so long is pretty tough. I have a lot of friends working in the comic world and they're just constantly putting stuff out there and sometimes I feel like a slacker, even though I'm working up to 14 hours a day some weeks. It's so important as an artist to get feedback.
Nrama: How much more of the story do you have to tell after this volume?
Bastian: Well there are three chapters to volume two, this annual being the first. That's pretty much it. I have a couple ideas about other story arcs I would like to get to but the process is so slow I might try telling those stories in a different way.
Nrama: Cursed Pirate Girl has earned a loyal following, but you've also been honest about the challenges in producing a work with your detailed level of art. What have been the biggest challenges in putting this book together?
Bastian: The biggest challenge is keeping people's interest. I don't want to ruin anything for anyone, so I only share little tidbits here and there. I'm not the greatest with keeping a prevalent online presence. You don't want people to forget you exist.
My biggest fear is when a new Cursed Pirate Girl book hits the stands the reaction is “Oh, that's still being published? Who cares, it takes him too long to do it anyway.” Thankfully, everyone who comes up to me at conventions says, “It's worth the wait." Those are the people that keep me going.
Nrama: How much more of the story do you have to tell after this annual, and how long do you anticipate it will take you to tell this story?
Bastian: That's hard to judge. I want the next two chapters to run about 36 pages a book. I wrote the story a very long time ago, though, and unfortunately I think I'm a better writer now.
So to make the storyline flow with all the elements that I find a story needs, I am constantly adding and subtracting things. Add that to evolving as an artist and raising my own expectations of what I draw…well, that just lengthens the process.
The upside of all that is I'm striving to produce a worthy product for the consumer. It's not a lucrative model for existing as an artist but this right now, is more about creating something that I hope will make a lasting impression.
Nrama: What's been the most rewarding part of the support you've received for the book so far?
Bastian: It's right there in the question itself – support is the reward. To have so many people come up to meet me at a show just to say how much they enjoyed the book and how they are looking forward to the next one. I have the coolest job I could hope for, and it is entirely reliant on the whims of the crowd.
Nrama: What were some of the most fun things to draw in the new annual?
Bastian: Oh, there are a couple. This book is loaded up with pea pods delivering gun powder charges to skeleton pirates to fish fairies to gigantic glowing Protozoa to singing skull crabs to an underwater palace.
There's even a masquerade ball thrown in there too. This was a really fun book to draw.
Nrama: And what's fun about getting to tell the stories of Cursed Pirate Girl?
Bastian: They're all mine. I have only myself to compete with and I don't have to compromise.
Nrama: What's it been like working with Archaia on this?
Bastian: They really understand what it takes for me to complete Cursed Pirate Girl the way I want to, and they wouldn't have it any other way. I am so grateful they are so patient.
Nrama: What are some other books/creators you're currently enjoying?
Bastian: I really enjoy Mouse Guard, I do get to see it in the making, though so I know exactly how insane David Petersen is, and I have a lot of respect for crazy. I'm talking about the models he builds to use as reference.
I also love Hellboy in Hell, I think it's Mike's best work yet. I'm really excited about a bunch of new books coming out of Image.Descender, Southern Cross and Run Love Kill. They are done by some of my favorite comics creators. That's the short list.
Nrama: What's next for you?
Bastian: After finishing up the next two chapters, we will be publishing a collected trade of volume two. After that, I'd like to work on some non story art for a bit. I do have a couple of other ideas for stories but they might work better as non sequential books. More like story books.
Nrama: Anything else you'd like to talk about that we haven't discussed yet?
Bastian: I'd just like to thank everyone for their understanding and patience.