Every Friday, Stately Beat Mansion invites round a comic creator or two for a cup of tea, complementary Kit Kat, and a chat about their work in The Phoenix. The Phoenix is a UK series which features a range of the best all-ages comics available, from all kinds of wonderful creators – all compiled into a single issue each week! The Phoenix have very kindly commissioned an old pirate ship just for this feature, which sails across to The Mansion every week with a new creator onboard.
This week sees Neill Cameron and Daniel Hartwell sail on over to tell us about The Pirates of Pangaea, a series appearing in today’s newest issue. If you want to find out more, then try an issue of The Phoenix for yourself!
Steve: So, what is ‘The Pirates of Pangaea’ about?
Neill: Pirates of Pangaea tells the story of Sophie Delacourt, a young and well-brought-up English girl of the early eighteenth century who, following the tragic loss of her parents, is shipped off to live with her uncle; governor of the British colony on the recently-discovered new continent of Pangaea.
Where there are dinosaurs. And pirates. And pirates riding dinosaurs.
Dan: Sophie is accompanied by Kelsey, a clever boy who got lost in the Sea of Green during a research expedition. Kelsey has a tendency to let his stomach get him into trouble.
Together Sophie and Kelsey stride across the land on Cornflower! A bright blue Tyranosaur that Sophie somehow managed to tame during one of her earliest adventures! Cornflower is fiercely loyal to Sophie, but like Kelsey she can cause a lot of problems when she gets hungry…
Steve: What’s your favourite thing about this week’s story?
Neill: Frankly, just that we managed to complete it and that I am not (at time of writing) dead or insane. This week’s episode is the final instalment of Escape From Razorbeak Mountain, our second big story arc, in which Sophie and Kelsey find themselves trying to defend a village of innocents from the wrath of our new baddy Raven Jess and her terrifying band of Pterodactyl pirates. It’s been a big, whopping long story with a lot of moving parts and character stuff going on, and the sheer challenge of tying it all together and resolving everything satisfactorily, in the space of four pages… was interesting.
Dan: This is the big climax! Where it comes together and all the ups and downs of the previous episodes pay off. I’m getting excited just thinking about it. Seriously this episode is going to be AMAZING!
Neill: Just from an art point of view, this episode was very satisfying to finally get to. There’s all kinds of stuff that we seeded in the story early on, little background details and such, that may have seemed extraneous at the time, or like I just obsessively like drawing unnecessary detail (which admittedly is true), but which all pays off here, in the mechanics of how the climax comes together. I realise this sounds very vague but I’m trying to avoid spoiling it!
Steve: What inspired the story?
Dan: Hmm. I think this story arc is all about overcoming fear. Bravery isn’t about not feeling any fear, it’s about being terrified to do something but forcing yourself to do it anyway, because you have to. Every day in the fearsome land of Pangaea is like this for Sophie.
Neill: Yeah, it’s also about pirates riding pterodactyls because we thought that would be awesome?
Steve: Where else can people find your work? What else do you have coming up in the future?
Neill: More Pirates of Pangaea, coming soon to the Phoenix! We’re following up the epic drama of Escape From Razorbeak Mountain with something that is as completely different as it is possible to be, while still being a story about pirates riding dinosaurs. I’m really excited about our next arc, it’s an absolute riot of sheer demented fun and calls for me to draw, amongst other things, more species of dinosaur in a single panel than I dare say anyone has ever attempted before. Or probably ought to.
Dan: Yes! More pirates! More dinosaurs! I’m also cooking up some other shorter stories, but we’ll have to see what happens with those.
Neill: You can also see my work on the self-explanatory How to Make (Awesome) Comics, every week in the Phoenix, and in my first graphic novel Mo-bot High, available from the DFC Library and coming out in a nice shiny new paperback edition this summer. More details at www.mobot-high.com!
Thanks so much to Neill and Dan for their time! The Pirates of Pangaea will be appearing this week in The Phoenix #72. And thanks to Liz Payton, who set up the ship!
One last thing — last week we had a comment asking about if there’s a way for American readers to get physical, rather than digital, copies of The Phoenix. Well! I asked The Phoenix’s Tom Fickling about it:
“From next week (at some point!) US fans will be able to buy single back issues from our web-shop if they want to try a single paper edition. This is with international postage, but without the commitment to a sub. We’ll let you know as soon as that is working.
In the meantime we can generate paypal invoices and ship to people if they email firstname.lastname@example.org.”