Pirates of Mars

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Where we are going

Some of you are probably wondering what is going on with Pirates of Mars. We’ve been running silent for a couple of weeks now and I just want to give everyone an update on what is going on. The first volume of Pirates of Mars: Love & Revenge is done. We are in the process of producing 2 more volumes, the next of which will be Pirates of Mars: Fear of a Red Planet.

With Fear of a Red Planet, we’re changing our process some here at Mars HQ. Instead of producing all 96 pages before we let any of it out the door, we’ll be doing them in 24 page “issues”. What does this mean for you? It means you you will be getting new Pirates of Mars sooner and IN FULL COLOR.

This does not mean that there will be nothing to see here in the meantime. Far from it. Pirates of Mars has gone through several iterations before becoming what it is now. Veronica and I had our first collaboration making a mini comic. So for the new few weeks, we’ll be bringing you a non-continuity story about a far more steampunk version of our intrepid heroes.

09/11/2011 | Comments Off

John Carter of Mars

I can’t begin to tell y’all how much I am looking forward to this. Please please PLEASE do it justice.

07/14/2011 | Comments Off

Pirates of Mars Now Available In Print

Buy it at lulu.com

Pirates of Mars: Volume 1 is now available for purchase at Lulu.com. It’s the full 96 page story available now ahead of what we publish on bi-weekly on the website. You should go purchase it. It will make our mothers happy and validate the life-choices we have made in the name of action, adventure, and jaunty eye patches.

05/13/2011 | Comments Off

Proper Station and Etiquette Under the Jolly Rogers

Life on a pirate vessel is not the cavalier fantasy portrayed in film and marketing pamphlets. It is a structured society like any other, and as such brings along its own socio-political baggage. Navigating this quasi-democratic autocracy requires grace and some form of deployable ordinance. To that effect, here are the hazards you should be aware of.

The Captain
This position is a bit of a mixed blessing. The pay is marginally better than that of the crew but like most professions, it’s all about the benefits:

* Private cabin
* Private dining
* Self-set agenda
* First rights to booty
* Absolute autonomy (1)

Sound great? It is, but it comes with one very important caveat.

Everything is your fault

“That harmless freighter turned out to be not-so-harmless. Nobody is perfect, right?”

Your fault

“How was I to know that ship was only carrying a shipment of Hug-A-Bunch dolls?”

Still your fault

Remember those 30-something individuals you don’t have to sleep near anymore? It turns out being stuck in a cramped and dingy bunk fosters a certain intolerance for poor execution. So much so that they will conspire to demonstrate what good execution is. First they will execute a mutiny and then they will execute the Captain. This is one of the checks and balances of the pirating life.

So if you’re the Captain with a sword of Damocles hanging over your head, it is in your enlightened self-interest to foster an atmosphere were people do not want to mutiny and kill you. To do this, they have three tools at their disposable. The first (and hardest) is success. Say what you will about your bastard of a Captain, you find it really hard to find fault with them when they’re keeping you in a steady supply of loot.

Sometimes a pirate airship will hit a dry spell, and that fountain of pillage will not be available to bath in. Now the captain has to employ the other two tools. The first is to keep everyone busy. They will yell at you to swab/paint/etc all of your waking hours; anything to keep you focused on something other than mutiny. On a pirate vessel, idle hands go for a gun. If they do go for it, the last tool is the only thing between you and thirty thousand feet of free-fall. Fear. Being scary will act as a deterrent against motive, means, and opportunity. Everyone will think twice about rising up against Captain McStabby after they’ve just made an example of the bloodslick on the deck that, up until two seconds ago, you called Bob (2).

The Quartermaster
While the Captain is the face of the ship, the Quartermaster is its very stingy wallet. And like most wallets, given enough time it will develop holes through which your rightfully stolen money will vanish. Charged with overseeing the ship’s tally of provisions and wealth, the quartermaster of a pirate airship has elevated creative book keeping to a level that would shame the most soulless of film studio accounting departments.

Even above the Captain, the Quartermaster is the one person that a pirate should make a point never to cross. Don’t believe us? Well ponder that fact after you’ve recently implied that your ship’s Quartermaster’s parents were unwed at the time of their birth. We are willing to bet large sums of money (3) that you will find every bit of food, booze, and looted pluder to be considerably more modest when it comes time to divvy shares.

And what does the Quartermaster get in return for the word they do? If they’re honest, nothing.

The Engineer
Nobody appreciates the chief engineer. It is the most thankless job on the entire ship, and those who take up the wrench to perform this duty do so out of a love of problem solving and spitting in Fate’s eye. It is a full time job to ensure that several tons of steel defy the Natural Order of Things and suspend itself 30,000 feet in the air like no several tons of steel was intended to. And what, you might ask, is the reward for such a miracle of modern pseudo-science? Neglect.

Nobody notices the Engineer until something bad happens. If they’re doing their job, everything runs smoothly, and life is all sunshine and rainbows. But even the best of Engineers can’t keep everything perfect, and when that moment happens, they suddenly get noticed. That notice usually comes in the form of rotten fruit, threats, and a detailed list of any character flaws they might have.

These heroes of the sky must suffer the slings and arrows of the ignorant slobs that live under the roof they provide. I mean really, would it kill one of you to stop and say hello in the corridor once in a while? I see you make eye contact and then quickly avert your gaze to inspect some particularly uninteresting bit of paint. It hurts. Especially the the comments about how we smell as you walk away. Is it my fault that I’ve been stuck in an engine room without the benefit of central air or a hot bath. It’s been two weeks since we’ve seen the sun. Two weeks. (4)

(1) But not really. See mutiny.

(2) Captain Murderington McStabby had a long and successful career as a corsair. Known for being particularly ruthless with his crew, he would often unintentionally bomb the countryside with the bodies of pirates who failed to meet expectations. Thus terrorizing not only the crew but the greater populace at large.

(3) For very large values of zero.

(4) Mr. Wunk, classically trained in the engineering vocation, was very hurt by his treatment by Mr. Fagnalls while the two were crew on the pirate ship Malice Aforethought. Despite getting top billing once the two began a writing career, Wunk always harbored a certain resentment towards his partner. Fagnalls thought Wunk should quit being such a baby.

02/25/2011 | Comments Off

RSS Issues

We’ve had some issues with feed burner and our RSS feed recently, but I think they have been resolved now. If you wake up on a Monday or Thursday and find yourself without a new page in your RSS reader of choice, feel free to drop us an email.

02/23/2011 | Comments Off

Pirates of Mars Comic Preview

Veronica in between becoming a Fish*, and her full time job of being awesome has thrown together a preview comic of the volume 1 book. It contains the first third of the book along with concept art, and writing samples. Buy it here!

* Notice the name change?

01/09/2011 | Comments Off

An Argument of the Merits of Rapid Dominance or Why Defense is for Losers

For today’s modern pirate, psychology plays a key role in maintaining any type of long term sustainability. This ability to understand both the thinking of any potential prey and the proper and correct thinking of a successful corsair will save everyone a lot of unnecessary bloodshed and expenses.

“But I like bloodshed,” you say. No, you do not. Hush. This isn’t A Handbook for the Aspiring Sociopath. That said, there’s going to be some bloodshed. Try not to look so pleased. In fact you must be ready to do some Very Bad Things on a grotesque scale. If satiating one’s bloodlust isn’t the purpose, then why so gung-ho on the gratuitous violence? Because it is not gratuitous.

Nobody wants to get hurt

The regular schlub who finds themselves in a potentially life threatening situations, simply wants to get through it with their longevity intact. Nobody with the sense God gave fish is keen on dying. Which means someone engaged in a conflict will have two goals to devote efforts to. The first is protecting themselves with the secondary goal of hurting you. If it doesn’t get in the way of goal number one that is.

You on the other hand, should only worry about hurting your opponent. Your inner God-given fish of common sense taking issue with that statement? Understandable. The first thing you need to do is murder that fish and toss its corpse over the side. Go ahead. I’ll wait.

Done? Good. Because common sense in this matter will get you killed. The very act of trying to defend yourself is going to get you dismembered, mangled, or dead.1 Welcome to the paradox that is quasi-organized violence. By focusing all your resources on killing your opponent, you increase the likelihood that they’ll be dead before they can inflict any grievous harm on your person. Some Vikings and Celts went into battle buck naked armed only with an Axe. With nothing but literally naked aggression, they were able to quickly overwhelm their opponent and drop them.

Through rapid application of offense, you will be able to magnify the effectiveness of your forces. In the Empress’ English, you fight fast and brutal to make it clear that the sole goal once the hammer drops, is to slaughter anything not sporting an eye patch. Once this is made clear (and this may require more than one application and a few strategically placed “survivors”) through the port rumor mills, you’ll find far more white flags in your future.

There is no tomorrow

Failure is always an option. For those in the business of piracy though, the option is in the form of “Death by _____”. If by some mistake you’ve managed to disregard or skip over the introduction to this Fine and Reasonably Priced handbook, allow us to go into the details a bit more.

Every empire in the whole of known space has the same penalty for piracy: death. Traditionally, it is administered by hanging, with the guilty being displayed posthumously for all to see. The thinking being that if you show people what happens to pirates, it will deter them from engaging in piracy. A very common sense approach which has never worked in the history of ever. On no occasion has a pirate, having been caught amongst a scene of blood, rum and cash, looked at the arresting Naval Officer and and said “I’m sorry Commander, I was unaware this was illegal.”2

A pirate finds themselves quite motivated towards success. As such, it would behoove the modern pirate to “leave it all on the field” when engaged with the enemy. You can imagine the embarrassment it would cause if, upon shedding one’s mortal coil, you state that you were holding back. Losers hold back. Winners shoot their opponent in the face until there is no face to be shot.

Thinkery am the anemone

Don’t think. No. I do not care how clever your mother said you were. She was lying. You are not that smart. I’m sorry to be the one to break this news. On the other hand, good news! Your opponent is an idiot too.3 A fact that you must and will exploit to your tactical advantage.

During a crisis, the primative caveman brain takes over and tells you what to do. It is all instinct and muscle memory. The caveman brain is a simple creature, and not prone to leaps of strategic genius. Give it enough time though, and the clever bits of the brain will take over and reason out a proper plan. The proper plan is your real enemy. If you see one, smash it with something heavy and cudgel-shaped.

Rapid dominance is about overwhelming your opponent with such raw offense in such a short amount of time, that they find themselves dead before the initial panic wears off. There is a reason why pirate ships are fast and bristling with ordinance. The speed will also put them immediately on the defensive which we have seen above, works to our advantage.4

Hit fast and hard and you just might fly away with a good bit of coin and your head still attached. If not, there is always the other option.

(1) Probably all three and in no particular order.

(2) After the first printing of this Excellent and Award Worthy work, it has come to the editor’s attention that several individuals have attempted this defense for the sole purpose of discrediting our claim. Finding this a rather disingenuous and petty thing to do, the text remains as it was originally published. The authors are content in the knowledge that the offending parties were summarily executed.

(3) One could argue that having avoided a life of piracy, your opponent is capable of making positive life choices and thus, could be considered to be smarter than you. We counter that it is not wise to argue such points with well armed criminals, and follow it up with a savage mugging. Nobody likes the smart kid.

(4) Admit it, you didn’t read it. You’re just skimming through the pictures.

09/21/2010 | Comments Off

Wunk & Fagnalls Handbook for the Aspiring Freebooter

An Honest and Forthright Introduction to Modern Piracy

The first thing that one should ask one’s self before reading the rest of this most excellent and reasonably priced handbook is, “Is the pirate life for me?”

NO, IT IS NOT.

Not convinced? Sure you have what it takes? Before one undertakes the adventure that is modern airship piracy, one should take careful inventory of one’s life. If for no other reason than to get a proper life insurance assessment1. Ask yourself the following:

  • Do I have anything to live for?
  • Do I have any loved ones?
  • Do I like not having to share a floating house with 30 other people?
  • Am I bothered by poor hygiene?
  • Are regular meals a necessity?
  • Do I have strong morals and/or ethics?
  • Do I wish to enjoy old age and retirement?

Also consider your feelings on:

  • Death by hanging
  • Death by firing squad
  • Death by plank walking2
  • Death by laser
  • Death by back stabbing
  • Death by face stabbing
  • Death by scurvy
  • Death by poor workplace safety3

If you find yourself at issue with any of the previous, then the advice would be:

DO NOT BECOME A PIRATE

…still here? Good. We can get on with things.

Being an airship pirate is AWESOME. Are you kidding? You get a ray gun and an eye patch! We highly recommend it to anyone not immediately turned off by the details. Sure there is some unpleasantness involved, but we find that boozing up in port allows one to get over that. Also, you get to booze up in port.

The truth is, that anyone can become a pirate. The goal of this handbook is to set your expectations and expand your skill set so that you may endeavor to become a successful pirate. With the proper tools, training, and morally dubious outlook, you too can one day captain your own pirate vessel.

(1) This is a lie. No insurance company outside of an insane asylum would pay out for piracy related death. They file it as a “suicide” and move on. The reader is left to draw their own conclusions from this fact.

(2) Technically it’s not the walking of the plank that is the cause of death, but the fact that said plank is 300 meters above the ground. It really should be called, Death by ground.

(3) See (2). Death by ground.

09/13/2010 | Comments Off

Pulp Adventure

Pulp is not high art. It can’t afford the rent. There were no wealthy supporters to water it with cash. No Medici or papal patronage for the Boroughs and Howards of the world. No nobility lauded upon it for speaking to the condition of man. Pulp had to sing for its supper. It spun you into exotic worlds populated by the monsters we feared and the heroes we wanted to be. The only goal being to present fantasy for your enjoyment in the desperate struggle for its own survival. No existential enlightenment. No commentary on society. Pulp exists to entertain you.

Pirates of Mars is a graphic novel transformed into a web comic serialization. For the next year, we will be serving up our first volume Love & Revenge every Monday and Thursday. It is written by myself and illustrated by the ridiculously talented Veronica Hebard.

We hope you are entertained.

09/06/2010 | Comments Off