Boing Boing 

How to write like a 17th century doctor

Mark CK researched doctor's journals and writings from the 17th and 18th centuries while working on a book about pirate surgeons and reports back with a guide to writing in the style of the day, which involves a lot of bad Latin, irregular spelling, and extra letters used as emphasis.

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The Littlest Pirate King

The Littlest Pirate King is David B and Pierre Mac Orlan's 2008 kids' comic about a living child who is adopted by the damned pirate crew of the Flying Dutchman, who sink to the bottom of the sea every day at dawn, and rise every night at dusk to murder and terrorize and try as best as they can to smash their cursed ship to smithereens and end their eternal damnation.

At first, the crew spares the baby so that they can raise him to adolescence before murdering him and making his ghost into their cabin-boy, but they quickly become sentimentally attached to him, and can't bear to kill him. In the end, they send him back to the land of the living -- a strange place he fears and loathes -- and leave him howling and abandoned on shore, begging them to kill him and make him undead like his friends.

So, it's a little grim.

But it's also gorgeous. The seas of Littlest Pirate King are filled with monsters and huge fish and wrecks and strangeness of all sorts. Each page is more gorgeous than the last, and the fantasy sequences in which the dead pirates parody the land of the living for their boy are perfect in their monstrosity. (just page through the image-search for some previews)

If you liked the premise of Neil Gaiman's award-winning Graveyard Book, you're sure to love this, but be aware that it's much a darker and sadder story than Gaiman's. I think this is probably suited to kids eight or nine and up -- my five-year-old loved it, but burst into inconsolable tears on reading the last panel, and I had to read her the entirety of Art Baltazar's loony Superman Family Adventures twice before she'd get to sleep.

The Littlest Pirate King

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Pirate sheet-set

$110 gets you a set of Beyond Bedding's Treasure Cove Pirate bedding -- comforter, shams, and a collection of appliques. It's markketed as "Children's Bedding," but a) it comes in queen size, and b) grownups make better pirates than kids do. As IO9's Annalee Newitz says, "Basically you can turn every object in your immediate vicinity into something aaaaaaarrrguably more awesome."

Treasure Cove Pirate Childrens Bedding (via IO9)

Schooling a reader who doesn't like female, middle-aged, black pirate captains

A reader of Scott Lynch's fantasy novels upbraided him for daring to have a black, middle-aged woman running a pirate crew, calling it a "politically correct cliche" and went on to say "Real sea pirates could not be controlled by women, they were vicous rapits and murderers and I am sorry to say it was a man’s world (sic)." Lynch's response was appropriately scathing, and rather wonderful.

You know what? Yeah, Zamira Drakasha, middle-aged pirate mother of two, is a wish-fulfillment fantasy. I realized this as she was evolving on the page, and you know what? I fucking embrace it.

Why shouldn’t middle-aged mothers get a wish-fulfillment character, you sad little bigot? Everyone else does. H.L. Mencken once wrote that “Every normal man must be tempted at times to spit on his hands, hoist the black flag, and begin slitting throats.” I can’t think of anyone to whom that applies more than my own mom, and the mothers on my friends list, with the incredible demands on time and spirit they face in their efforts to raise their kids, preserve their families, and save their own identity/sanity into the bargain.

Shit yes, Zamira Drakasha, leaping across the gap between burning ships with twin sabers in hand to kick in some fucking heads and sail off into the sunset with her toddlers in her arms and a hold full of plundered goods, is a wish-fulfillment fantasy from hell. I offer her up on a silver platter with a fucking bow on top; I hope she amuses and delights. In my fictional world, opportunities for butt-kicking do not cease merely because one isn’t a beautiful teenager or a muscle-wrapped font of testosterone. In my fictional universe, the main characters are a fat ugly guy and a skinny forgettable guy, with a supporting cast that includes “SBF, 41, nonsmoker, 2 children, buccaneer of no fixed abode, seeks unescorted merchant for light boarding, heavy plunder.”

You don’t like it? Don’t buy my books. Get your own fictional universe. Your cabbage-water vision of worldbuilding bores me to tears.


Not to mention that woman pirate captains were numerous enough to fill an entire (and excellent) history book on the subject.

Fuck Yeah SciFi/Fantasy WOC (via Making Light)

Real history from a pretend pirate

Meet Richard Nolan: quartermaster of the Whydah, captain of the Anne, former coworker of Blackbeard—in general, pirate. He is also—at least through Labor Day—my friend Butch Roy.

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Short comic about the life of a female pirate

Back when I worked at mental_floss magazine, I wrote up a short article on the life of Cheng I Sao, a 19th-century Chinese woman who rose from prostitution to became one of the most successful pirates of all time, commanding a fleet of thousands.

It's a great tale, though I'd almost forgotten about it until writer Natalie Kim twittered at me recently to tell me about a project that mental_floss story had inspired. Working with artist Robin Ha, Kim has turned the story of Cheng I Sao (also known as Cheng Shih) into a short comic in Secret Identities Volume 2, an upcoming anthology of Asian-American superhero stories. Here's what Kim wrote about why the story of Cheng I Sao/Cheng Shih was interesting to her:

To summarize, Ching Shih was an actual woman who lived in the 19th century and worked as a prostitute. Eventually she married a pirate and when he died, she took over and was one of the most successful pirates of her time. (To add to her badassery, after her husband died she married her adopted step son!) The British tried to get rid of her but she proved elusive and ended up living a very long and prosperous life.

The story struck me as so unusual because most stories about Asian women are how they had been physically abused but remained ultra loyal to an elusive man and their reward is that they sprout into a beautiful blossom flower.

You can see a small preview page on Natalie Kim's website. It looks awesome and I can't wait to read it.

Buy the Secret Identities Volume 2 anthology

MIT issues certificates in piracy

Good news! You can now earn a certification in piracy from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. One of the first crop of official pirates, Jacob Hurwitz, showed up for his interview with the Boston Globe "wearing a pirate hat, eye patch, earring, knickers, and a stuffed parrot on his shoulder." So you know it's official. (Via Kevin Zelnio)