When I first came across Andrew Dobson’s comedic pirate comic Alex Ze Pirate, I must admit I was reminded of my all-time favorite pirate movie Cutthroat Island (though I know a lot of people who’d cry foul and claim Pirates of the Caribbean is better, along with some purists who prefer Treasure Island). Undoubtedly part of this fellowship lies with neither Cutthroat Island or Alex Ze Pirate taking themselves seriously; while Cutthroat Island does slowly build into an epic storyline, it doesn’t forget that ultimately it’s entertainment. Conversely, AzP doesn’t bother with an ongoing story (in fact, the latest storyline may be the longest one it’s run) and instead seeks refuge in humor and character.
At its core, AzP is the story of the pirate captain Alex and her crew, and it is here where the comic’s comedic strengths lie. While the comic is nominally about the pirate captain Alex, who seeks plunder and a cute boyfriend (the latter of which is problematic as despite her very girlish figure she keeps being thought of as a cute gay guy by almost every male out there), in many ways it’s the cabin boy Sam who carries the comic. Perhaps part of this lies with Sam’s role as the comic’s occasional straight man and his continued role as the comic’s chew toy. Still, in many ways I’ve found Sam to be a foundational character for the comic, giving other characters someone to work from while indulging in their own lunacy.
The third character who seems to straddle the line between primary character and comedic relief is with Atea, a young lady who has a massive crush on Alex and wants to be in a romantic relationship with her… despite the fact Alex prefers guys to girls (which isn’t to say Alex won’t flirt with Atea, especially when Sam’s around to get flustered by their antics). In fact, nearly every time Dobson pulls out the running gag with Alex being mistaken as a gay guy, he follows it up with Atea’s attempts to pick up Alex (and mostly getting shot down). Still, Dobson hasn’t expanded upon Atea’s story to the extent he’s done with Alex and Sam, and some elements mentioned in the cast page haven’t appeared in the comic as far as I can tell.
The remainder of the cast exists primarily for comedic purposes, such as Alex’s uncle, Uncle Peggy, who manages to get into mischief (usually involving trying to steal Atea’s undergarments) despite having hooks for each hand and two peg legs, or the dog person Talus who has an odd fixation on nails, abandonment issues, and a tendency toward histrionics when it’s funny. And ultimately, that’s what the comic is about, what’s funny. Perhaps this is part of the reason it’s taken me a while to write this review; I’m more in my element when talking about epic storylines and grand plots than in character-driven humor. But if you enjoy light-hearted humor and characters who indulge in silliness (and I can’t see why you wouldn’t), I have to recommend Alex Ze Pirate as well worth reading. Just be careful, or the comic will steal your afternoon as you peruse its archives.