DF Interview: Stephanie Phillips lets readers set sail into some female-centric pirate derring-do in ‘A Man Among Ye’
By Byron Brewer
High adventure on the savage seas in the waning days of piracy, when men were men, and the best pirates were...women? Writer Stephanie Phillips (Butcher of Paris, Descendent) and artist Craig Cermak (Red Team, Voltron) bring to life the tale of Anne Bonny and Mary Read as they hoist the skull and crossbones, draw cutlasses, and seek a treasure that will make them legends. In the early 18th century when sailing with women was thought to be bad luck, Anne and Mary might just be the only people capable of saving the pirate way of life.
DF is adrift with anticipation for this high seas adventure, so – after we got out of walking the plank – we sat down aboard ship with scribe Stephanie Phillips.
Dynamic Forces: Stephanie, tell readers the impetus behind this female-centric pirate series, A Man Among Ye. Is it something you’ve been contemplating for awhile?
Stephanie Phillips: Definitely! I have always loved the myths and legends around Anne Bonny. So many male pirates have their own adventure stories, and I really wanted to give Anne her own. She has appeared in some other media before, and even in a Witchblade comic from Top Cow, but I wanted her to be the central focus of our story and really delve into her character and reasons for abandoning her home life in favor of a pirate ship.
DF: What research did you and/or artist Craig Cermak do to make readers feel the salt spray, the creak of the wooden ships and the greed in the hearts of less-than-loyal crews?
Stephanie Phillips: The challenge here is that there aren’t many historical records of Anne and Mary. There are stories, sure, but not really historical documentation. So, I would say we did the best we could to understand the time period and a life as a pirate, then really played into this “larger-than-life” image of Anne Bonny as a cutthroat, headstrong privateer. I know that Craig has done plenty of research on ships and clothing during the time period as well, which I think really puts the readers into the middle of the action.
DF: Tell us about the overall storyline of A Man Among Ye.
Stephanie Phillips: The story is set in the waning days of piracy when the crown was looking to curb the privateering business by essentially buying out pirates – exchanging your life on the seas for one of domestic bliss, all at the expense of the government. Anne does not want to give up this life, but has to deal with the confrontation of trying to find a space where she can continue to be a pirate, while the British and even her own crew are out to get her. The story is definitely an action-packed adventure, really having fun with the subject of pirates and epic battles (sorry, Craig!).
DF: Introduce us to Anne Bonny and Mary Read.
Stephanie Phillips: Anne is really the focal point of the story. She is the member of John “Calico Jack” Rackham’s crew and we see her butting heads with many of the crew members. Despite a positive relationship with Rackham, the rest of the crew really doesn’t want her there… not that she cares. Mary will serve as the reader’s point of entry into the story and Anne’s life as we open with the two women meeting one another. Parts of Anne’s life are very foreign to Mary, so we get to see Mary coping with piracy and a budding friendship with Anne, while also trying to evade pirate hunters and a malevolent crew!
DF: What other characters do we need to know as we purchase issue #1? Hard to pinpoint on a book about pirates, but … IS there a notable big-bad? If so, tell readers about him (her?).
Stephanie Phillips: As the book opens, we will definitely introduce a lot of conflict for Anne and Mary. While the crew doesn’t like Anne on board the ship, we will also meet notorious pirate hunter Woodes Rogers. Rogers will serve as the very obvious antagonist here, but I will say that pirates are… not the best characters, so the “bad guys” could really come from anywhere. *wink*
DF: Talk about your collaboration with Craig.
Stephanie Phillips: I can’t say enough good things about working with Craig. I have wanted to work with him for such a long time because he’s such a good storyteller and talented artist. His work with [Garth] Ennis on Red Team was just amazing. I remember texting Craig one day and just asking how he felt about pirates, and then the rest kind of snowballed from there. Our work on this book is really collaborative. We discuss ideas and really work together to build all elements of the world.
DF: Stephanie, any other projects, now or near-future, you can tell readers about?
Stephanie Phillips: We just announced a new book with AfterShock today – Red Atlantis! This spy/espionage/thriller will be out in June with artwork from Robert Carey. I have a few more things in the works that I can’t talk about… but it’s definitely all exciting things!
Dynamic Forces would like to thank Stephanie Phillips for taking time out of her busy schedule to answer our questions. A Man Among Ye #1 from Top Cow/Image Comics hits stores May 13th!
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