Comics Features

REVIEW: The Rooster’s Pearl

Written by Mark Russell

Strike your colours, ya blumin’ cockroaches, and have a read of this here fine fable called The Rooster’s Pearl, told by the crew of Funkydoodycool Comics, captained by Ashley Hewerdine. As you can tell, I be speaking in pirate speech and this fable be about pirates and the like. With its own fine artwork, a unique art style, very funny, and while a merry adventure about the romanticized, stereotypical pirates ye love, it has a charming message at its heart. So all hands, prepare to sail and take a look into this fable. Okay enough of that. I’ll leave the pirate slang to the professionals.

The story of The Rooster’s Pearl is a fun if not intentionally stereotypical pirate adventure. Our captain for this voyage is, well, The Captain. None of the characters actually have names beyond being the Captain, a cabin boy, and other crew members of the unnamed ship. They are celebrating their latest presumed pillaging and plundering at the local tavern, but ponder what to do next. As if on cue, a mysterious man with a large forehead and weird hair appears, offering to guide the crew on a quest to find the fabled Rooster’s Pearl on a remote island. Thrilled to go and find more treasure, the Captain takes the map regardless of the dangers and drags the hapless man into drinking himself silly.

The treasure map itself looks like it was drawn by a six year old (that is not an insult to the comic’s fun art style) and its directions are very obscure. Regardless, the crew set out and immediately everything that could go wrong, does go wrong. The ship is attacked by a giant sea monster, their ship sinks, and the oddly-shaped island is filled with booby traps and dangers that kill off most of the crew in wacky ways. The Captain is in reach of the Rooster’s Pearl, though it might not really be worth it as he finds out towards the end of the story, which has a funny but still sad ending.

Let’s talk about the negatives first, which are little in number. In fact, they aren’t really negatives, but rather mild nitpicks. The characters lack names, and the drawing style can make some things a little hard to figure out what they are. For instance, there is a scene where the pirates run from animals which I assume are killer monkeys, but they look like characters from Where the Wild Things Are. There is also a little bit of adult content in the comic, like cartoonish gore and the ship’s figurehead had her breasts on display. But since this is a pirate story, it seems appropriate.

The positives are plentiful. I love the art style used in the comic, despite the minor flaws it has. Everything is simply detailed and very funny to look at. At times, certain panels look like were drawn hastily, but it doesn’t spoil reading the story. It makes the world the comic is conveying quite fun and childish. The sea monster eats a couple of the crew and meets a gory end, but is drawn as being quite cute. The characters are your stereotypical band of pirates, sailing the seas, finding treasure, and drinking rum. But they are a ton of fun in the antics they get up to, and I enjoy the Captain’s perseverance to charge through the dangers and find the Rooster’s Pearl.

The best quality of the comic is its message – as said on the first page “Precious things are for those who can prize then.” As the Captain leads his crew on the journey, he loses quite a lot on his way to get the Rooster’s Pearl and the final panels are surprisingly a very sad read through and the swashbuckler realises he went on a fool’s errant, losing all that was important. He is shown to have a family-like unit with his crew, referring to them as his brothers, and is shown to be quite heartbroken when they die. That kind of quality in comics, no matter their genre, is a pretty strong and effective element to have in fiction.

All in all, this comic is short but entertaining. Ashley Hewerdine clearly has talent and I hope it will be further explored in more comics. Drink up me hearties, yo-ho!

Do you enjoy pirate stories or do you think the genre is dead in Davy Jones’ locker? Do you like stories that have a nice message to it or do you find them obnoxious? Sound off in the comments or send us your thoughts on Twitter!

About the author

Mark Russell