Practical Defence Against Piracy - a graphic novel / webcomic in progress
September 12, 2023 2:30 PM   Subscribe

Practical Defence Against Piracy - a graphic novel / webcomic in progress
Twelve years ago I posted a project here - “DelilahDirk.com - a graphic novel, serialized online.” Then, for a decade, I kept my head down in an old-fashioned authorly manner and made two more in the same series and some other books I’m proud of. Now I’m making another comic on the internet, it’s full of pirates, it's been nominated for a Will Eisner award, and the final instalment of the most recent chapter goes up on International Talk Like A Pirate Day.

PRACTICAL DEFENCE AGAINST PIRACY is a bright, colourful all-ages adventure set on a fictional Mediterranean island at the end of the 18th Century. All Alexandra Nichols wants is to get home to England — her “homeland” in name only — for her fifteenth birthday, when she will be taught the practices of a proper English Lady. Born with an adventurer’s soul, she believes this will involve archery and horse racing and how to use the grown-up swords, the big ones.

But the threat of piracy haunts the seas, so when mysterious sails are spotted on the horizon, her family seeks safe harbour in the nearby island town of Archipoli. It seems safe there, but it is not where Alexandra wants to spend her birthday. She’s not going to be any happier when her parents surprise her with the truth of what will really be expected of an English Lady.

And then, of course, there are pirates, but they may be the least of her problems.

It's my hope that this story offers young readers consolation about the bewildering insecurity of the adult world. It’s a personal story, in that way. The older I get, the more the world seems to be chaotically improvised, and at the very least I hope this project tells readers, “if you are noticing this, know you are not alone.”

I’m making this project "publicly" because I needed to change things up. I am caring for a toddler now, so work on the book is going at about half the usual pace, and I thought this approach would both help fend off the isolation inherent in solo authorship and maybe keep it “alive” in readers’ minds over the long (long) time it's taking to make. If you're interested in the nitty gritty of finances, schedules, creative difficulties versus creative challenges, and the graphic novel-making process, I wrote a series of posts back at the start of this project. But also, I like contributing to the old-fashioned free internet, as I suspect many MeFi users can appreciate.

I post each chapter as I finish it, usually in weekly four-page instalments, which I share both on my blog (RSS!) and on the Delilah Dirk website (a nice reading experience!). I link to the updates from Tumblr (regularly), Mastodon (often), Instagram (sometimes), and Bluesky (we’ll see). I am also documenting the process with weekly updates on Patreon (where I try to keep potentially "learny" posts free for all). Currently there are roughly 175 finished pages to read online, with the most recent chapter coming to a conclusion on Tuesday, September 19th. How that could possibly be related, who even knows.

I hope you enjoy this comic! May it scratch your Master and Commander itches, or your Our Flag Means Death itches, or be the Eloise Bridgerton spinoff you hoped there might be.

Meanwhile, I have more drawings to do. :D
Role: Author!
posted by TangoCharlie (3 comments total) 4 users marked this as a favorite

Tangentially, I just learned about PIPERKA.NET, a site for staying up-to-date on old-fashioned static HTML webcomic sites (including, uhhh, my own).
posted by TangoCharlie at 11:49 AM on September 18, 2023 [1 favorite]


Read this post, looked at your website. Went to the library, got permission to go in the teen room. Took out the Turkish Lieutenant, went home and read it. Put rest of your books on hold so I can get them the next time I go to the library.

Your work is awesome and I’m so happy I came across this post.
posted by sciencegeek at 4:14 AM on September 25, 2023


OMG, *you* wrote Delilah Dirk? That's so awesome!!!

I loved the artwork and the story. It reminded me of some of the most fun stuff that bubbled up when comics went bonkers in the 1980s, and the old-fashioned jut-jawed Caped Heroes had to make room for Grendel and Stankiewicz and Fish Police and a million other things.

Thanks for posting here so I know about your new stuff. After I read it, I will pester the teen librarians at the town library to order them. :7)
posted by wenestvedt at 11:44 AM on November 15, 2023


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