Film noir has been around since the 1930s and has made a huge impression on popular culture. The matching up of noir principles and the era of pirates was an unexpected combination to say the least, but one that pays off inside the pages of Pirate Eye.
The main story follows Smitty, an eagle-eyed treasure hunter, former pirate, and all around scoundrel who has found a life on land. As in most noir, his simple life is almost immediately interrupted due to a character from his past. This leads him to dodge police, other pirates, and all kinds of other obstacles in his quest for treasure and revenge.
The story has a simple premise, but is very well crafted and intricate. There are betrayals and back-stabs, as well as characters framing one another, including the protagonist. What I enjoy most about Pirate Eye is that each character fits into a noir trope while still feeling organic and real. Smitty as the scoundrel detective is equal parts charming and shady, with his past and some current actions putting him in a moral grey area. His nemesis comes in the form of Burroughs, a former shipmate of Smitty’s hell-bent on ruining his life. Other characters include a one-eyed constable named Simon, Smitty’s former friend Collins, and a trio of terrifying enforcers known as the Triplets. These personalities create a very tense situation, escalated by the brilliantly scruffy artwork. Each background feels both grimy and unwelcome, which is very necessary in both a pirate story as well as noir. The characters look distinct for the most part, with only a few background characters looking a bit too odd from time to time. However, it is not surprising to find a few oddballs among this sort of crew.
Smitty and Burroughs’ duel of wits spans across oceans and islands, making this quest seem very epic, which is not exactly how noir is meant to feel. However, in this instance, the cramped quarters of a ship or the loneliness of the islands or oceans give you a feeling of isolation and dreariness. The darker sides of port cities are revealed, and there is a beautiful sequence where the triplets encounter Simon on the street. What’s beautiful about it is that there is no dialogue during the scene, only some voice over from Smitty. The entirety of the action is shown through visuals, from the glasses of one of the triplets coming through the fog, to the reactions of each character’s face.
Pirate Eye brings together two styles masterfully, with a compelling story, unique characters, and sprawling yet claustrophobic settings. Any person who is a fan of detectives or adventure should pick this up. The high seas may have been full of epic battles, but these little bits of drama and intrigue make pirates feel like pirates. Rotten, back-stabbing criminals out for only one thing: treasure. Whether or not they find it remains to be seen, but I’ll be waiting with bated breath to see what happens next.
What do you guys think about Pirate Eye? How do you feel about this mash up of two distinct genres? Sound off in the comments or send us your thoughts on Twitter!