We recently got a chance to catch up with 2018’s Top Cow talent hunt winner and writer of the new series A MAN AMONG YE, Stephanie Phillips, to talk about everything from inspirations to what pirate stories have been missing in popular culture. Check out our full interview below!
Comic Watch: To start, thank you very much for taking the time to talk with us about your new series A MAN AMONG YE at Top Cow. Can you give us a brief history on how this project came together?
Stephanie Phillips: Thank YOU so much for talking with me about the project! I was really fortunate that in 2018 I was selected as a Top Cow talent hunt winner. I loved working with the Top Cow team and we immediately started brainstorming our next project together.
CW: The history behind Anne Bonny and Mary Read is quite remarkable. What insight can you give us regarding the research that went into this project and how closely A MAN AMONG YE aligns with what we know about them?
SP: The interesting thing about Anne and Mary is that we really don’t know much about them. There is one written account that is from the time period that these women lived, but even the author’s identify remains contested. Not the most reliable source of information…
As such, Anne and Mary are sometimes more mythical figures than historical. A MAN AMONG YE is a version of the legends surrounding these two women and their possible exploits. Using Anne and Mary as our lens, artist Craig Cermak and I really use them to look at the time period and the motivations that could drive two women to a life of piracy. Most of the research done for this story reflects what we know about the end of the golden age of piracy and how many of the pirates, Anne and Mary included, responded to the crown’s attempts to take back control of the seas.
CW: Pirating in the Caribbean is too often thought of as a boy’s club, but this story shows that wasn’t always the case. So, what are some of the themes you hope to explore with Anne and Mary at the forefront of a high seas adventure?
SP: We really want to look at what drove people, especially a couple of women, to a live of piracy. Piracy was really seen as a path to freedom from certain societal constraints. For some, piracy was even a literal form of political rebellion over who was sitting on the throne. Anne Bonny left her husband to make a name for herself as a pirate, and we really wanted to explore the motivation behind these decisions and the opportunities that presented themselves to Anne and Mary on a ship that they might not otherwise have had.
CW: I particularly enjoyed the approach to superstition in piracy, such as the bad luck that can be incurred from sailing with women. Can you talk a little about how this influenced your approach to the writing process of A MAN AMONG YE?
SP: I think that helped drive us to tell this story. We really started with the idea that women weren’t always wanted on ships, and then stuck two of them on a ship in the middle of the ocean with some curmudgeonly pirates. Seemed like a fun way to stir up trouble! In all seriousness, I also think these superstitions reflect the time period and the motivation behind our characters. Outcasts, rebels, and the downtrodden all found their way to pirate ships, yet some of these same motley crews looking for an escape from social norms were unable to accept women trying to do the same. That really changes the typical pirate narrative for Anne and Mary.
CW: Pirate stories can almost be considered a genre all their own, so what were some of the main inspirations behind A MAN AMONG YE and were there any comics in particular you found inspiration in?
SP: Most popular culture looks at pirates when they were in their prime and ruled the seas. Our inspiration to tell this particular story actually came from a gap in the genre – the end of the golden age of piracy when crown and crossbones clashed. I don’t think our team was too heavily influences by any books or movies. The idea itself really came from historical record and wanting to look at the time period through the eyes of two of the most infamous female pirates.
CW: What was the collaboration process like with the rest of the creative team involved in this project?
SP: I love collaborating with artist Craig Cermak on this story. Not only is Craig extremely talented, but he’s an amazing partner and co-creator for the project. We talk about the book constantly to build the world and character details together. I think that kind of interaction will show on levels of this project. Brittany Pezzillo is also doing incredible work on colors with Troy Peteri completed our team on letters.
CW: You’ve found some incredible success with series like The Butcher of Paris at Dark Horse Comics and Descendent at AfterShock Comics, but what do you feel it is about Top Cow that made it a good home for A MAN AMONG YE?
SP: Personally, I think it’s really cool that Anne Bonny has already appeared in the Top Cow universe as part of Witchblade. We will not be looking at Anne as a Witchblade wielder, but I have no issues thinking of this as a shared universe, haha.
I also love working with Top Cow and their editorial team.
CW: Without spoiling too much, what are you most excited for readers to discover in A MAN AMONG YE?
SP: I will give our readers one warning for this book: trust no one. These are pirates, after all.
There it is! Be sure to get your copy of A MAN AMONG YE set to release on June 17th!
These are Pirates, After All: An Interview with Stephanie Phillips
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