January 19th, 2011



100 COMICS TO READ BEFORE YOU DIE (or grow out of them)

#14 THE PIRATES OF CONEY ISLAND – Rick Spears, Vasily Lolos

“It’s those damn comic books. They rot the brain I tell ya--”

Gangs of street kids with colourful themes brawl with each other and hijack cars while a Cadillac everybody wants that casts no reflection cruises past in the background. Sounds pretty simple when you sum it up like that, but The Pirates Of Coney Island is all about its style, not its plot. It’s a self-described “manual on how to be awesome” with all the attitude of a sneering high-schooler’s pencil case covered in pictures of knives and skulls.

Garish fairground purples, greens and reds dominate the colours. Zip-A-Tone dots ripped out of punk zines cover the backgrounds. The sound effects are big and comedic – everything goes brrmm! or hurgle! or especially kung-fu shaaa. The bad guy is so heavy metal that his sound effects have umlauts. Everybody carries a signature weapon, from slingshot to shuriken, and the violence is both cartoonish and gut-churningly grotesque.

The Pirates of the title are an all-boy gang who lapse into Arrr-speak while driving a van that flies the Jolly Roger and engaging in turf wars with the Cherries, an all-girl gang who rob stores between pyjama parties. It’s like Tank Girl having sex with The Warriors while Repo Man watches. As pretty a picture as that just painted for you, there’s a down side to reading The Pirates Of Coney Island. It’s an unfinished symphony, six issues out of a planned eight, and the final two have been delayed so long they’ve become lost treasures that may never be dug up. Welcome to the world of comics, breaking your heart since you learned to read.