Mathieu Lauffray's Raven v1 cover detail

Get Your Pirate Comics Right Here

Do you also yell back at the car speakers when listening to a podcast? Have you ever been out walking the dog when you suddenly start talking to yourself to answer a listener question for the show you’re listening to?

Probably just me, but I thought I’d check. I’m not doing a podcast myself these days, but you can’t take the podcaster out of me.

On this week’s edition of the iFanboy Pick of the Week podcast, Ben F. from Erie, Pennsylvania asked where the good pirate comics are. Conor and Josh stumbled for an answer, because the North American market is not terribly kind to that genre. Examples of pirate comics — good or bad — are few and far between.

Also, they missed “El Cazador“, the six issue series at CrossGen by Chuck Dixon and Steve Epting. Fair enough, it was the end of CrossGen’s life and I don’t think it has ever been reprinted. By today’s standards, it’s a little obscure. Beautiful issues, though, if you can find them.

Thankfully, there are a lot more great options from the world of Franco-Belgian comics.

Keeping in mind that the original question was about the more serious side of piracy, I’ll lead with a couple of those recommendations:

“Long John Silver”

Long John Silver v1 cover

This is one of my first BD recommendations to superhero readers already. The fact that it’s a pirate’s tale means it had to make the top of this list.

The whole story runs four books and has been published in print at Cinebook. It is also, of course, available digitally.

He is child of ink and quill, the figurehead of R.L. Stevenson’s “Treasure Island”. He has lived on crimes and dreams; known the galleons of Madera, the sack of Maracaibo and the Buccaneers’ uprisings. He will mix gold and blood to seal his destiny, deep inside the lost kingdoms of the Amazon. He is the last pirate, He is the legend, Long John Silver.

And here he is on another adventure to save a lost sailor. Things get crazy quickly.

Written by Xavier Dorison and drawn by Mathieu Lauffray, the book reads like a tightly-paced movie done on paper and using all the tricks the medium has to offer. Lauffray’s art is a revelation to those who haven’t seen it before. It’s a great style that will appeal to superhero readers without looking like anything you’d find in a superhero book.


Raven v2 cover by Mathieu Lauffray

Years after “Long John Silver”, Lauffray returned to the world of pirates with a new character who is charming and witty and gung ho, perhaps beyond the limits he should set for himself. It’s a serious book of plunder and treasure and adventure, but it has a wicked sense of humor to it, as well.

Raven is a fearless young pirate as capable of legendary exploits as he is of epic fails. In this inaugural volume, he finds himself on the high Caribbean seas on a search for a treasure meant for the Governor of Tortuga. Allied with the dreadful Lady Darksee, whose hope is to gain royal pardon, the terrible Governor must act quickly. But the impetuous and talented Raven has grand plans to beat them to it…

Since it’s Lauffray at work once again, it’s a masterclass of comic book storytelling, which is something I dedicated a whole article to once.

The first two books of “Raven” are now out. I believe the series is set for a 3 or 4 volume run.


Esteban v2 by Matthieu Bonhomme cover

Less of a pirate story, per se, and more of a sailor’s story, here’s the pitch:

When Esteban, a young Native American boy of just 12-years-old, presents himself to the captain of the Leviathan for the post of ‘harpooner’, he’s the laughing stock of the whole crew. But when the captain finds out that Esteban is the son of Suzanna of the Tehuelches tribe, he decides to take him on… as ship’s boy. Despite his lowly post, this is Esteban’s chance to discover the sailor’s life, with all its hardship and its happiness, and maybe even a chance to prove what he’s made of!

There’s a tremendous ship chase in this book and some great storytelling, over all. It’s from Matthieu Bonhomme, who also did a pair of well-received pirate-less Lucky Luke albums that I’ve also reviewed.

I’ll be honest — it’s been awhile since I read these books. They’re good, but the details have slipped my memory.

The Funnier Books

The Campbells by Jose Luis Munuera cover of volume 2

Possibly my all time favorite BD series is “The Campbells”. It’s about a pirate who retires from the pirating life after the death of his wife. He’s taking care of the kids and minding his own business when events interrupt his break and he’s back out to sea.

This one has it all from the ships with big sails to the pirate flags to the sword fights and buried treasures.

Jose-Luis Munuera writes and draws this one, and it’s brilliant. It’s laugh out loud funny with a story that takes major twists in every book. His animated style looks like something out of the Disney playbook (with some J. Scott Campbell). His characters are extremely expressive and bounce around the page.

There are five books, in total, for the whole series. There’s a great beginning, middle, and end for a title that originally saw print as a series of short stories in Spirou Journal.

The Pirate Family v1 cover by Fabrice Parme

If you’re looking for something that verges towards the straight-up pirate sit-com, check out “The Pirate Family.”

Written by Aude Picault and Fabrice Parme with art by Parme, it’s a very stylized book that looks like a prime time animated series you might see either on Cartoon Network or squeezed between The Simpsons and another FOX animated show. That’s likely because it’s based on a French animated series. I dare say the comic looks better than the animation, though. You can look it up on YouTube and judge for yourself, though.

It’s about a family that lives on a pirate island. The father has some bad luck and has to take up the lowliest of pirate jobs to provide for his family. That leads to an even worse situation where he’s scrambling to do the right thing while keeping the family afloat. Lessons will be learned, a family will love one another, and the bumbling dad will be the butt of many a joke.

It’s not the “Master and Commander” type of book that Ben F. was asking for, but it is entertaining.

Be sure to also check out “Venezia“, another book drawn by Parme and written by Lewis Trondheim that’s a great Italian rom-com period piece.

But, Wait! There’s More!

I can’t read all the comics, so I’ll link you to this article that lists off a bunch of pirate comics beyond just ones I’ve read and reviewed.

Two quick notes on it:

I did read “The Forbidden Harbour,” though I never reviewed it. I liked it a lot.

I also read “Telemachus” v1. It’s a great and ambitious retelling of The Odyssey in a Franga style, but it’s nowhere near a pirate book.

To sum it all up: If you’re looking for a good, serious pirate book, “Long John Silver” is the easy recommendation. If you’re willing to loosen up a little on the grim and gritty part, then I can’t recommend “The Campbells” highly enough.

What do YOU think? (First time commenters' posts may be held for moderation.)


  1. You have missed one of the best – Isaac the Pirate from Christophe Blaine!

    Bourbon Island 1730 by Lewis Trondheim is pretty good too.

    1. Thanks for reminding me — I have Blaine’s book here somewhere… NBM did the translation, right?

      And I’m ashamed to say I don’t know that Trondheim book, but he writes so much that it’s difficult to keep track of it all. ;-). I just looked it up — First Second published it over here. Interesting. I’m adding it to my Wish List over on Amazon, for sure. Thanks!

      1. No problem – You are correct about NBM. They published two books, each with two tomes. Unfortunately, I think there’s a fifth one untranslated.

  2. We (Cinebook) also translated Jérémy and Jean Dufaux’s “Barracuda”, also on the serious side of storytelling – 6 volumes of bloody pirating fun.

    More recently – last year, to be exact – we also started with the revival of “Barbe Rouge”. Unsurprisingly, under the title “Redbeard”! Two volumes so far, “A Short Drop and a Sudden Stop!” and “The Sea Wolves”, with the third to come out this year in French and probably soon after from us. Way more on the serious side than either Barracuda or Long John Silver – this is hardcore 18th century sailing adventures, no supernatural undertones. A lot of fun, though, and a lot of accurate historical details and research. 🙂

    Just thought I’d mention them.

    Oh! And starting in July, I think, we have a two-volume story by Florence Magnin and Rodolphe, “Black Mary”. Way more supernatural, but the pirate aspect is still strong.