A more exciting yet accurate post title: Ants Ate My Face.
In January, graphic journalist Joe Sacco gave this hour-long interview at the Michigan Theater in Ann Arbor. From his journeys to war-torn nations in the Middle East, to an examination of his creative process, the discussion brings together art, history, and concern for human rights.
See Joe’s books currently available at Fantagraphics.
Marcus Rediker’s Villains of All Nations dedicates a chapter to female pirates. Though his account of Read & Bonny covers familiar factual ground, Rediker adds his thoughts on gender roles of the day, and their relation to the pirate way of life. He writes of other women at sea, for comparison, and analyzes how artwork depicting a female pirate in the frontspiece of Johnson’s General History may have influenced the painting Liberty Leading the People.
On the subject of the Atlantic pirates in general, Rediker examines the working conditions of sailors in those days, and how piracy was a rebellion of oppressed laborers. Rediker is no stranger to the horrors suffered on ships back then. I studied his book on the Atlantic slave trade, and he painted a grim picture of life at sea for not only the captured slaves but for the sailors hired to transport them. Villains of All Nations briefly touches on this slave trade and how the 1720s crackdown on piracy was influenced by pressure to keep slave trade routes open and profitable.
Rediker’s narrative clearly sympathizes with the Atlantic pirates for liberating themselves from intolerable working conditions, and he openly criticizes government campaigns of propaganda and public hangings used to deter piracy. He details the code of collective self-government pirate crews adopted, but he does not unilaterally glamorize them. He does not shy away from their cruelties, nor their increasingly unconscionable violence as the crackdown turned against them.
But in giving a clear picture of the harsh living conditions which compelled them to rise up and resist captains and empires, to form their own multi-ethnic and independent societies, Rediker provides a unique insight into the decision to go “on the account” and become a “man of fortune” in the 1700s. The book is scholarly but never boring, and much of it could be read as the makings of a manifesto in an age where millions of laborers continue to suffer in oppressive conditions around the world.
The Atlantic pirates may not have been the romantic heroes portrayed in theater and fiction, but many of the justifications for their rebellion echo ideas we now consider noble or even take for granted: self-determination, reasonable working conditions, respect for diversity, and a voice in our governments.
This quick-start guide to the world of self-publishing will get you up and running on your first book! It helps you answer the most important questions and make decisions that lead to a successful self-publishing project. In just nine short chapters, this easy read will demystify ideas about writing, marketing, budgeting, and choosing a platform to distribute your book.
By focusing on what you need to plan from the beginning, you will keep your costs down, avoid common mistakes, and nurture the passion that got you thinking about a book in the first place! A Passion for Planning is an indispensable guide to all the things you don’t yet know—but need to!
This academic work examines the detrimental political and social effects of the federal government’s current approach to staffing top leadership positions in its agencies with short-term political appointees rather than career administrators. 8500+ words.
The images in today’s gallery come to us courtesy of the archives at The Supergirl Project. Some of these public service announcements from the National Social Welfare Assembly have graced our virtual pages here before. But something unexpected happened last year when we put one on Twitter. It got picked up by someone from the NSWA, now known as the National Human Services Assembly. It turns out they were collecting these old ads for their archives! Last we heard, they had gathered quite a collection. Enjoy a few below. Superman even makes a couple appearances!
In today’s installment of The Library of Female Pirates, we take a look at a few pages from Angus Konstam’s Piracy: The Complete History. Though we return once again to the familiar subject of Anne Bonny and Mary Read, this book is notable for questioning the romantic yet brutal tale of these two female pirates. Unlike some other texts in our series, Konstam finds fault with the “far-fetched” and “sensationalist” story passed down to us courtesy of Daniel Defoe’s General History of the Pyrates.
Konstam points out that a pirate’s occupation was generally short-lived, due not only to its rough nature but to its being a temporary economic solution for most sailors involved. Thus, Konstam doubts Mary Read would have spent nearly 23 years at sea. He also points out we have little record, other than their trial documents, to verify anything Defoe has told us. Konstam makes these criticisms in pages 185-188, reproduced below.
Piracy: The Complete History begins in the 14th century BC, with a band of sea raiders who troubled the ancient Egyptians, and continues up to the modern time of 2008, when it was published. It’s an enjoyable read, and its modern language makes it more accessible than some of the older texts covered in this series.
“A General History of the Robberies and Murders of the Most Notorious Pyrates and Also Their Policies, Discipline, and Government.” Nearly every book you find on pirates of antiquity will refer to the book featured in today’s installment of The Library of Female Pirates. David Cordingly, in Under the Black Flag, calls it Captain Johnson’s A General History of the Pyrates, and Cordingly has provided an Introduction to at least one edition of the book under that name.
However, you will also find the book listed under author Daniel Defoe. Why? Editor Manuel Schonhorn explains in the Introduction to the edition pictured below. Based on the work of Professor John Robert Moore in 1932, academics have increasingly come to believe that “Captain Charles Johnson” was merely one of many pseudonyms for Daniel Defoe, the author of Robinson Crusoe. Schonhorn elaborates on Defoe’s life, his interest in maritime commerce and piracy, and the nature of his sources and travels.
Schonhorn’s edition fills more than 700 pages and incorporates text from four editions of the first volume of A General History and the second volume as well. His supplementary material works to clarify Defoe’s factual claims, while the organization of the text for clarity cohesively orders material which was apparently scattered throughout the editions published in Defoe’s era. Defoe himself made corrections and changes between editions, and Schonhorn must have put in tremendous time and effort to make a single coherent text.
Compared to other texts in our Library of Female Pirates, this one has the most antiquated language. Schonhorn has preserved many old spellings (such as “authentick” instead of “authentic”) and the apparently common “anything goes” Approach to Capitalization of those bygone Days. This makes the book at once more challenging to the reader and more endearing, as if one is truly studying an historic document.
Pages 153 through 165 cover Mary Read and Anne Bonny. We would love to scan those pages for you, but the book is incredibly thick. Scanning it without destroying it is nigh impossible. However, most of the information has been recounted in the other, more modern books we have covered in this series. A General History of the Pyrates has served as the primary source, or at least the starting point, for all modern research on Read and Bonny, from the romantic retelling by Charles Ellms to Gosse’s account to Cordingly’s scholarly work.
Yet some details of their lives only appear in Defoe’s work, as far as we can tell. For example, Defoe spends nearly four pages recounting a tale of three stolen spoons. The drama between a wife, her husband, and her maid resulting from these stolen spoons leads directly to the circumstances of Anne Bonny’s early childhood. Mary Read’s various military services and her marriage resulting from one of those services also earn a bit more detail in Defoe’s history than in subsequent works. A combination of Defoe’s General History and Cordingly’s research in Under the Black Flag may well constitute the sum of all we shall ever know about these two famous female pirates.
As a big fan of Dark Horse Comics’ recent adaptations of Conan, I hoped to find adventure in some of Robert E. Howard’s other stories. The Dark Horse series often featured on their letters pages, in the original single issues, short comic strips about Howard’s life taken from his memoirs. So, when I purchased this 1976 edition of Pigeons from Hell, finding a brief bio from Robert E. Howard himself made for an unexpected treat.
And yes, the deciding factor on choosing this book was the awesome dinosaur painting, by artist Jeff Jones, on the cover. Jones led an interesting life, at one point marrying comic book writer Louise Simonson and later living as a female under the name Jeffrey Catherine Jones. You can find a small sample of Jones’ 100+ book covers in this free online gallery. I tried to find a decent collection on Amazon to link for you, but they all seem to have their shortcomings. If you know a complete collection with high-quality reproductions, please leave a note in the comments section here.
All but one of the thirteen stories inside originally saw publication in Weird Tales from 1925 to 1938. Combining elements of horror, fantasy, and western genres, they all read as fairly straight-forward narratives. Howard provides some creepy moments but not really any shocking twists and turns – at least, not by today’s standards where movie audiences expect some kind of revelation to re-frame everything at the end of the story.
On the downside, this edition suffers from poor proofreading, with several typos per story. You might prefer to spend a couple more dollars than I did and get a more recent edition. And as an editor, I would have reduced the reliance on semi-colons and extended sentences with multiple clauses. In general, Howard’s prose is fast-moving and tight, but it could use a little editorial tune-up to hone its edge. If you can get beyond these minor quibbles, though, most of these stories make for a good, quick read and would be well-suited for adaptations as comic books.
Below, you can read the pages from the introduction, a letter from Robert E. Howard about his life and his thoughts on writing. The first paragraph is by Glenn Lord, an agent for Howard’s estate.
Our seventh installment of The Library of Female Pirates concludes this week of piracy with the one book we would most highly recommend to anyone interested in female pirates or pirates in general: Under the Black Flag by David Cordingly. Cordingly devotes his fourth chapter to “Women Pirates and Pirates’ Women”. We will not present the complete chapter here because, unlike some of the authors of our older texts, Cordingly is still alive and deserves your support in purchasing this incredible work.
Cordingly’s chapter on female pirates incorporates all of the historical sources our series has shared with you so far, and goes even further. For example, he expands the body of knowledge on Mary Read and Anne Bonny by researching historical documents. This provides the reader with, among other things, this notice of their trial date, complete with antiquated English spellings.
Cordingly also delves into the daily particulars of life which must have confronted females aboard the pirate ships, such as the problem of keeping their gender a secret when the only toilet aboard the ship was a large board, extending off the ship in plain view, with holes cut in it. Cordingly also notes the legendary female pirates were not the only women aboard these ships, and he reveals the conditions of wives and female captives. Finally, he puts the lives of female pirates into perspective by examining the lives of female sailors in general, favorably comparing their capabilities at sea with their male counterparts.
Ching Shih (which Cordingly spells Cheng) also appears in Under the Black Flag, receiving a far more historically knowledgeable treatment than Borges gave her in his fanciful Universal History of Iniquity. Cordingly mentions Alwilda here, essentially recounting Ellms’ brief version. However, Cordingly delves into the life of Grace O’Malley, a female pirate not covered in other texts in our series. Because she has not been given her due yet in this series, we present those pages here in their entirety.
Our sixth installment of The Library of Female Pirates returns to the pages of the 1996 hardcover edition of The Pirates by Charles Ellms. Here we receive a more complete account of the lives of Anne Bonny and Mary Read, apparently the account drawn on by Philip Gosse in The History of Piracy.
Though not as historically complete as the next book in our series, this may be our favorite telling of their tale. Ellms’ old-fashioned language gives us a sense of these long-gone days and creates an atmosphere of both shock and sympathy for these hard-fighting women who, if truth be told, appear no more or less cruel than their male counterparts. Ellms portrays them as capable of both passion and savagery, sailors one would rather fight beside than fight against. Anne receives a shorter chapter, but much of her life overlaps with Read’s chapter, where their meeting is revealed.
Our fifth installment of The Library of Female Pirates features a brief account of the life of Alwilda from the pages of The Pirates by Charles Ellms. This 1996 hardcover edition presents material Ellms published anonymously as The Pirates Own Book, which is now available in many editions from Kindle to Audio Book.
Though Western readers tend to think of the buccaneers of the Caribbean when they think of pirates, Ellms includes Alwilda’s story in a chapter on the Danish and Norman pirates which came long before. Like Mary Read and Anne Bonny, Alwilda dressed as a man and went to sea, eventually leading a band of pirates. Ellms’ account reads like the stuff of legends, with Alwilda furiously battling a prince of Denmark whom her voyages had allowed her to escape becoming married to.
It is hard to say with certainty how accurate Ellms’ narratives are, as they make no attempt at citation, nor distinguishing historical record from anecdote. However, his charmingly old-fashioned language and sympathetic portrayal of female pirates does much to create a romantic yet savage vision of their life and times.
Our fourth installment of The Library of Female Pirates returns to the pages of The History of Piracy by Philip Gosse for a more detailed account of Mary Read and Anne Bonny. Gosse ends this section with a brief verse he credits to the anonymous author of The Pirates’ Own Book. We now know the author was Charles Ellms, and the book was published anonymously in numerous editions as Ellms compiled material. We will explore the pages of a 1996 edition later in this series. Strangely enough, this fragment of verse did not make it into that edition, giving Gosse’s 1932 account a bit of uniqueness.
Our third installment of The Library of Female Pirates presents a more in-depth look at the Chinese pirate Ching Shih from The History of Piracy by Philip Gosse. Due to her code which prohibited certain forms of rape of female captives, some recent writers have attempted to paint Ching as a kind of feminist hero. Gosse’s account demonstrates otherwise.
Despite the initial goodwill these codes brought her in some villages, Ching eventually left a legacy of murder and broken families all along the coasts of Chinese rivers, taking hundreds of women captive. Gosse does not tell us what happened to these captive women, but it takes little imagination to know they must have been sold into slavery. Whatever her crimes, however, one thing is clear: Ching was not a woman to be trifled with. Though not as well-known as Anne Bonny and Mary Read in the Western world, she has appeared as a character in several movies and video games.
Gosse’s pages include a lesser-known female pirate from China: Hon-cho-lo. Also a widow of a pirate, she assumed command of her dead husband’s forces. Commanding sixty ocean-going junks from 1921 to 1922, she also participated in capturing women to sell into slavery. Though we enjoy romanticizing the pirates of the past as much as anyone, it would be a mistake to characterize these women as feminists concerned about the rights of women. It would perhaps be more accurate to say they proved themselves the equal of men in tactical leadership, the application of force, and barbaric cruelty.
Our second installment of The Library of Female Pirates showcases a brief narrative from Argentinian writer Jorge Luis Borges. Translated into English by Andrew Hurley, this tale appears in the Borges collection A Universal History of Iniquity. It covers the exploits of Ching Shih, perhaps the most overwhelmingly successful female pirate of all time. A widow of a Chinese pirate, she assumed control of her deceased husband’s forces, terrorizing the Eastern seas and coastlines until the government offered her a truce.
Borges’ account contains elements of fantasy, which he admits in his introductory material, as it was published in a somewhat sensationalized “tabloid” paper. Too factual to be fiction, and too fictionalized to be factual, it is best viewed as a light form of literary entertainment. Our series will share other, more authoritative texts about Ching Shih, none of which substantiate Borges’ scene entitled “The Dragon and the Vixen.” However, Borges’ flowing and descriptive language does capture the sense of brutality and beauty we have come to associate with the lives of female pirates, whether true or not.
Our first installment of The Library of Female Pirates showcases seven pages from a pirate coloring book called Blackbeard and Other Notorious Pirates by Peter F. Copeland. Copeland gives us the highlights from the lives of Anne Bonny and Mary Read, perhaps the best-known female pirates in the Western world.
Though not as in-depth as other texts we will explore in this series, Copeland’s renderings of weapons, ships, and clothing do much to make the world of Bonny & Read come to life in our imaginations. His portrait of Mary Read, standing with her pistol before a cloud-covered mast bearing the jolly roger, truly captures the romantic vision time has bestowed on these reportedly tough and brutal women of the sea.
Today is the first day we’ve seen the cactus in the front yard burst into bloom overnight. Perhaps it liked the rain we got yesterday. To make the event more rare, we have never seen a preying mantis here in the urban desert either. But this morning, when we stopped to admire the flowers, one tiny mantis had already staked a claim to them.
We suppose if the flowers attract ants, bees, and other pollinators, then this is the mantis version of a hunting shanty or hidden fishing hole. Maybe the mantis will chop the heads off little bugs and stick them on the cactus spikes like trophies. How awesome would that be? We’ll check in on mantis later and see how the hunt goes.
Oops, we disturbed the mantis. See how it moves down into the spikes? Smart thinking, mantis. Now sit still!
Since we posted Our Top Ten Favorite Single Issues in October, 2011, our fan-blogging obsessions brought many more printed treasures to our attention. One by one, we added them to Mars Will Send No More until today’s post can link you to every one of them for in-depth exploration.
Well, nine out of ten at least. Close enough for this summer! Qualifications for inclusion on this list are simple: The issue cannot be from a series already covered in our original Top Ten, and it must be brain-stunningly awesome. Six of them are black and white books, and we had only read three of them before we started this site in 2011. Allow us to present, in no particular order, Ten More of Our All-Time Favorite Single Issues. Click their titles to learn more about each one!
Armadillo Comics #2 by Jim Franklin; 1971, Rip Off Press
Man from Utopia #0 by Rick Griffin; 1972
Lone Wolf & Cub #28; First Publishing
Devil Dinosaur #1 by Jack Kirby; Marvel, 1978
Cartoon History of the Universe #1 by Larry Gonick; 1978, Rip Off Press
Anarchy Comics #1; 1978, Last Gasp
Silver Surfer #1; Marvel, 1968
Super Villain Classics #1; Marvel, 1983
World Around Us #15: Prehistoric Animals; Gilberton, 1959
Spectacular Spider-man #21; Marvel, 2003.
But what about…?
Several noteworthy series have not made it into our Top 20 single issues. This includes works like DMZ, Clan Apis, Frank, 100 Bullets, and Sin City, where the entire series as a work of art outweighs any single issue. We will rectify this with future lists!
June and July bring a special season to the Martian landscape: beetle season!
Check out these scary-looking sons-of-Bospors.
What the heck is that thing, you may wonder. Scary as they look, they are fairly peaceful critters known as Root Borer Beetles. No, you don’t want to get bitten by those terrifying pincers on their face, but generally they don’t want to have anything to do with you. They have left their homes in the roots of trees for an adventure that has nothing to do with humans.
Why leave a perfectly good subterranean cave to wander the asphalt wilderness in the most god-awfully hot time of year? The root borers have emerged from their little hidey-holes on the oldest mission in the animal kingdom: getting laid. The adult root borers have about a month to get down to it. After they get that done, they die. We just give them a wide berth and wear sturdy beetle-proof boots outside.
One root borer beetle who bit the dust on his annual excursion made it into a collage/painting we did last year, pictured below. (You can read more detail about Dream Journal Five in our archives.) They look so awesome covered with chrome enamels that sometimes we feel tempted to capture and exterminate a few of them, but that would just make us feel guilty. However, any critter that dies on its own is pretty much fair game.