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Ahoy There Me Hearties!

Ahoy There Polly and the Pirates!

I've been working on that line all summer. Hey, we all know that it was Captain Feathersword that ushered in this new Pirate popularity, not that Depp guy in that Disney movie.

The digest sized collection of Ted Naifeh's Polly and the Pirates from Oni Press is out now and I am pretty sure that I have the only review of it on the web with a Wiggles reference.

Here is the story rundown of the story from the publisher's site: Polly has grown up in a prim and proper boarding school, far from any kind of adventure, and she likes it that way. But when she discovers that she's actually related to the Pirate Queen, she's got to find her inner-adventurer. Hijinks and high adventure await in the world of the pirates, can Polly rise to the occasion?

Here's a hint: she does.

Here's my rundown. Polly and the Pirates is a very well written action packed book that I believe both boys and girls would enjoy. The art is cute (but not in a bad way, boys – lots of pirate action), and at times highly detailed. The pirate ships and city scenes are particularly well done. The creator, writer, artist, Ted Naifeh, has created a world where pirates exist and anyone could die with a flick of a sword, BUT no one ever does (sort of A-Team-ish that way, again, in a good way). Naifeh says “ In Polly's fictional world, half the city is built on tall, Victorian style houseboats, including her boarding school, which rocks her to sleep at night. It's a place where houses look like boats and boats like houses, where the line between the comfort of home and adventure on the high seas is blurred.”

A few months ago when I began this site I emailed Naifeh a couple of questions:

CitC: Who is your book aimed at? Girls, boys or both. It looks like it is aimed at girls, but would be something that boys would like as well.

Naifeh : I hadn't consciously aimed the books at any particular audience. What I wanted was for them to be inclusive, and not shut out female readers, or male readers for that matter. If you work too hard to aim for a particular gender or age group, I find that you end up with a predictable formula. This kind of thinking has all but strangled the mainstream comics market, catering to the same dwindling group of 15-25 year old male readers almost exclusively. Women and younger readers are a tiny minority now, and most mainstream comics don't evince the slightest interest in catering to them.

Most of my readers wait for the trades, chiefly because they're not comic book enthusiasts, and buy collected editions in mainstream bookstores rather than from local comic shops.

Out now, the original six issues are collected in a smaller sized digest format. This allows for the 176 page b+w book to be sold for $11.95 US. This is good value.

Now, in her Newsarama review of this title, Tracy Edmunds (one of our contributors) said that “ Polly and the Pirates isn't really for little ones – there are veiled references to prostitution and pirate swearing (“soddin' ‘ell!”), though most of it went right over my girls' heads. Several of the characters have very thick accents and the girls had trouble understanding them until I read it out loud – it's kind of fun to say, “Sho, ‘er yeh in league w'the Poirit King? Er are yer double-crosshin' ‘im too?” While I wouldn't call Polly an all ages book, it's a great read for tweens and up, and definitely fun for adults.”

I have provided scans of a couple of pages so you can judge whether or not you think this is appropriate or not. I would likely let my own children read it when they are 8-9, but I would not bring it into a k-3 classroom because of the language and "veiled references". I don't believe that this has just been added to add “edge” to the work though. I honestly think it was added just to add a bit of colorful pirate language to make it a bit more fun to read. On the other hand, if you feel that something like “bloody right” is full on swearing, you may not agree.

I really had a good time reading this book. Check out some more of the art on Oni Press' Polly and the Pirates page if you are not yet convinced. You can purchase it at the Oni Press site, order it through a comic store using this Previews code: MAY06 3338, or order it at a book store with the isbn# 1-932664-46-7.

Happy reading.

Scott Tingley


Any questions or comments, contact me at comicsintheclassroom @ gmail.com


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