Comics fan Steven Johnson has done something very interesting with WATCHMEN, the comics classic by Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons. In the alternate world of THE WATCHMEN, pirate comics are the dominant comics genre (hm, Moore’s prescience strikes again?) and one of the stories-within-a-story is Tales of the Black Freighter:
As we learn from the postscript to Chapter 5, this is intended to be from an immensely popular pirate comic series called “Tales Of The Black Freighter”, which is essentially a horror comic themed on the concept of a pirate ship captained by an evil figure, and manned by the damned. The specific story being read has the title of “Marooned”, and recounts the story of a sailor who survives an attack by the Black Freighter and is marooned on an isolated island; he frantically attempts to escape the island in order to warn his hometown of the impending assault of the evil ship, which he presumes is headed there to destroy his friends and family. It’s a chilling story that still gives me the creeps today, even given the dozens of times I have read it over the years.
Johnson has taken the panels of the comic from the story and reconstructed them into a 20 page comic. The result is eerie and well worth a look.
If you’re still interested in THE BLACK FREIGHTER, we also recommend Nina Simone’s rendition of “Pirate Jenny” by Bertold Brecht and Kurt Weill which inspired the whole Black Freighter thing. “Noon by the clock and so still by the dock…”