At New York Comic Con in 2012, I struck up a conversation with Tim Yates, who I recognized from a previous discussion about the Kubert School some months before. I knew he was a graduate of the school, and was interested in where his career path was taking him. He was engaged in plenty of work as a colorist, he told me at the con, but as we talked, I noticed he was sketching, and tried to sneak a sly glance over the angle of his notebook to see what he was up to.
I saw some very talented work, full of energy and suggested storytelling, a girl pirate posed in the midst of an action scene. He told me it was "just an idea" but one that wouldn't leave his imagination alone, and he found himself drawing her quite often. He hoped someday it might become a full-blown project.
It's always a good moment when you hear back from someone and learn that their strange idea had pushed them to pursue a project into fruition, and I've discovered that Yates is set to launch his own series from Blue Juice Comics called Anne Bonnie. When I saw the cover, it felt like deja vu, capturing many of the elements of the sketch I had glimpsed at NYCC that year. Flipping through the preview only made me more appreciative of the fact that Yates has followed his star and produced Anne Bonnie. It's a pirate adventure story and world that blends realism and fantasy while following two female leads, one mysterious, and one a young, brash wannabe adventuress, Ariana. Yates' artistic expertise is clear; he's made a bold statement of individual style in his first fully-produced comic.
I asked him a few questions about the series and his plans so far.
Hannah Means-Shannon: Is this your first independently written and illustrated comic? What pulled you in to pirate and treasure-hunting lore as a creator?
Tim Yates: This is the first time I have either written or illustrated a comic, though I've been a colorist since 2011. I've always been fascinated by pirate history, and inspired by adventure tales such as Pirates of the Caribbean and Indiana Jones. When deciding what I wanted my comic series to be about, I just mashed up all of my favorite things into one world and spun a story around it.
HMS: The preview of the comic hints at many things to come, including the mysterious legend of Anne Bonnie and the developing exploits of Ariana. What motivated you to feature prominent female characters in this adventure comic?
TY: Most of my stories feature a strong female main character for one reason or another, so when I started making a story about pirates, the character Anne Bonnie was a no-brainer for me. Though the story focuses on the legend of Anne Bonnie in a fantasy setting, we see it all through the eyes of the main character, Ariana, as she begins her own unique adventure.
HMS: What do you think that fantasy can allow us to do in comics that other genres might not? What are some of your goals as a visual storyteller on Anne Bonnie?
The fantasy setting of Anne Bonnie allows me far more freedom in my storytelling then if I were to have the book take place in the real world. I don't have to follow history, as it takes place in my own made up world, and I can really stretch my imagination with the magical aspect of a fantasy world.
HMS: How did you settle on the color scheme for the comic? It's incredibly bright and engaging, and quite a contrast to many of the more steampunk or noir tones associated with pirate stories.
TY: As a kid, I drew my inspiration to want to be a creator mostly from cartoons and Anime, so I've refined my technique to bring as much of that fun, cartoony, animated style as possible into my book. Everything is open lineart and color, so you'll see very few of the solid blacks that have become standard in comic book art.
HMS: How did you come to publish with Blue Juice? What are the benefits of working with a smaller publisher as an artist and writer these days?
TY: I've been a colorist on Blue Juice Comic's first series Accelerators since 2012, which is how I met them. When I started creating Anne Bonnie, Tom Mumme approached me with the creator/publisher team-up, though I was already planning to pitch the comic to them, so the deal was pretty easy. Working with Blue Juice has been great so far! Since it's one of their only titles, Anne Bonnie gets a lot of TLC from them, and I'm very excited to see what we do moving forward.
In fact, there's some even better news regarding Anne Bonnie: if you are interested in reading it, there's a free preview accessible and available here.