Corsairs: A Different Take on the Space Epic
By Robert Jeffrey II October 3, 2011
There’s no shortage of space faring adventures to be found in today’s popular culture. Whether it’s “Star Trek,” “Star Wars,” “Babylon 5,” “Battlestar Galatica” or “Serenity,” tales of traveling to distant worlds continue to fascinate.
At this year’s Onyxcon convention, Kid Monster Creations co-creators, writer Daniel McNeal and illustrator Charlie 'Fab' Goubile, provided their fresh addition to this genre, with the premiere of “Corsairs: Captain’s Log”.
The book previews the story of the “Hammerhead” crew, a diverse group of space “pirates” who fight a daily battle to survive in a universe controlled by the totalitarian regime, the United Space Colonies (USC). Led by LaRue Antoinette Dalcour (or Red), the crew steal and plunder, not for their own personal gain, but to help those destitute souls who live at the outer fringes of the USC.
“In its most basic of layers, it's a classic story of pirates intertwined with the mythology of Robin Hood. From the surface, it seems like LaRue and the Hammerhead crew are doing the proverbial plundering of ships for goods,” McNeal explains.
“However, as the reader will discover, these pirates aren't robbing and stealing merely for riches; it's for survival and to help those who need it the most.
“ ‘Corsairs’ is also an exploration of the human survival instinct—fight vs. flight. When you force individuals into certain situations, how do they respond? How do the roles of good and evil rotate and change position? What alliances form and what alliances crumble? What are the definitions of good and evil?” McNeal continues.
Goubile further explains that the book demonstrates how situations are not always in black and white, but shades of grey.
“With ‘Corsairs’ I really wanted to show how things are not always as they seem, society is always quick to point the finger and say, “you are the bad guys,” without hearing both sides of the story,” he says.
McNeal has described himself as a Trekkie and Goubile a die hard “Star Wars” fan. Rather than come to blows with this storied geek rivalry, the creators have combined their loves of each franchise for the goal of telling a great story.
“One thing I can say I bring to ‘Corsairs’ from ‘Star Wars’ is the sense of adventure and excitement set against a backdrop of fantastic creatures and landscapes,” Goubile says.
“However, Daniel and I have been using ‘Star Wars’/‘Star Trek’ less as inspiration for ‘Corsairs’ and more of a left and right boundary marker. We both have so much love and respect for the two franchises that we didn’t want to blatantly chop them both up and make some Frankenstein’s Monster of a project. So we made sure to stay away from elements that are iconic to either of the two, which ultimately forces us to use our creativity to develop elements unique to ‘Corsairs’.”
In keeping with the “grounded and realistic” tone of the story, McNeal and Goubile are attempting to accomplish what other properties in the science fiction arena have accomplished: tell a story with real world parallels against the backdrop of a fantastical adventure.
Whether it’s the “Twilight Zone” highlighting the various facets of Cold War America, “Star Trek” shedding the light on the race relations in Civil Rights era America, or “Battlestar Galatica’s” focus on post 9/11 USA, science fiction at its best can entertain while also educate. In the case of “Corsairs,” its creators have crafted a story that shines a light on the Somali “pirates” of East Africa.
“We most definitely wanted to provoke discussion surrounding this difficult situation with the Somalians,” clarifies Goubile. “The best stories often include some underline theme that makes us question why things are the way they are in our society and is there a better solution?”
“When dealing with “out of this world” type projects it is important to ground all of these fantastic elements with something relatable in real life. If not you just have all of these fantastic things happening and the audience has no point of reference to why.”
McNeal adds that the goal of “Corsairs” was to take real world scenarios and put them in a relatable context.
In addition to this, science fiction is one of the few genres that seek to reflect the diverse world in which we all live. The creators explained that the inclusion of one of the few examples of a female captain of color and the diverse crew of the “Corsair’s” universe was a conscious decision.
“It is important that we have characters like LaRue to counterbalance all the hypersexual images of women of color, and the portrayal of Black women as the helpless victim. Young girls need strong, positive and heroic characters…to show that they don’t have to be half-naked to be accepted in society, and to show young men the value of a woman of substance,” he adds.
In the long run, both creators hope that fans learn a little something, while also having fun courtesy of the inter-galactic escapades of “Red” and her crew.
“I want the reader to have a roller coaster ride experience with this book, where they can see some really cool characters, great storytelling and hopefully learn a thing or two in the process,” McNeal says.
“Along with the previously mentioned social and political commentary we hope to inspire from this project, I really want to spark the imagination of the reader and give them the same feeling I got after watching ‘Star Wars’ for the first time,” Goubile adds.
Readers will have numerous opportunities to delve into the world of the Hammerhead crew. In addition to the “Corsairs: Captain’s Log,” a 27-page prologue will be released in May 2012, with a full-length graphic novel to be released soon after.
Robert Jeffrey II is an award-winning Atlanta-based freelance writer whose work has appeared in such publications as Ja Dore magazine, The Atlanta Voice newspaper, and Urban Voices In Comics. When he’s not ranting and raving about comic books, he’s actually writing them. Check out http://www.terminusmedia.com/ for his comic book story, Daddy’s Little Girl, featured in the anthology, Terminus Tales Presents #1: Platypus vs. Monkey.” Robert can also be found at http://robertspageofwriting.blogspot.com/.