Driftwood Pirates is a series of indie comics about a group of four pirates that name themselves the Unicornus. Together, the friends have embarked on their latest journey to find four idols and unlock the path to the greatest treasure ever known.

Pirate tales make people want to explore the world and discover new possibilities; they even make me want to take up sword-fighting. Sometimes, however, certain tales make me wonder why a tale even exists in the first place. Is today’s series one of those cases? Let’s try to find out together!

The Balance of Cliches

The first thing that struck me, as soon as I started reading Drifwood Pirates, was the use of piracy tropes. At first, I thought I was going to be submerged in a story with too many tropes; which could have killed the immersion and made the whole plot feel a tad forced.

Driftwood Pirates indie comics screenshot #1

As it turns out, though, I was completely wrong here. The creators did a wonderful job in using the pirate tropes in specific areas. They used a lot of pirate speech throughout the characters’ dialogues,  for example, but they didn’t let it overwhelm their thoughts.

I even enjoyed looking at some of the challenges the Unicornus crew faced. While some of the plot elements can be traced back to other stories, it helps pay tribute to past storytellers.

Leveled Off Characters

While characters are the spice-of-life for me, I found the protagonists of Driftwood Pirates to be slightly bland. Jor Reno’s traditional cockiness is something I expected from him, for example. Gooby’s idiotic, yet comedic, nature, on the contrary, is something I would be more fitting for a children’s television show.

If this comic was meant to be driven toward children, I think the creators did a great job on setting the characters’ personalities up. But as an adult, I found myself wanting more. I love how the Unicornus crew try to play fair with the other crews. I even love how they brand themselves as “swashbucklers”.

However, it’s still not enough to keep me engaged with everybody. If the characters were meant to be used as pieces of satire, then the creators did a great job! But as they stand now, I can’t really tell the goals of the creators.

Driftwood Pirates indie comics screenshot #2

The writing in Driftwood Pirates is another thing I have a problem with. I’m usually someone who stays away from comedy but the jarring nature of the jokes used in these volumes force me to spend a few words on them.

I understand that the comedic style and the elements that the authors used are a bit more traditional than what most comics present. However, I feel there is a limit to how many cliches one uses in a story. The jokes in Driftwood Pirates might be well suited to teach comedy to children but are enough to do this comic any justice.

Driftwood Pirates’ Saving Grace

Not all of Driftwood Pirates is still struggling to come together, though. My favorite part of this comic is the art style. I’ve only seen the chibi-style used a handful of times but I think the blended styles of traditional comics and chibis work extremely well here and I am happy the authors went for it.Driftwood Pirates indie comics screenshot #3

Because of that, the entire comic reminds me of an MMORPG game from a couple of years ago. The bright colors help give the tale the adventurous spirit it deserves. Finally, I love the detailing focus on the characters and their different expressions.

And that’s what saddens me the most. Compared to most indie comics I read, Driftwood Pirates actually has a pretty decent start to it. I love tribute it’s made to other pirate stories, the art-style, and even some of the plot points I ran across.

However, the comedic elements and characters don’t sit well with me. If this comic was meant to be a satire, then it did a great job. Otherwise, I think the writing could be improved to feel more relatable to adults or driven towards children instead!

If you’ve liked what you’ve seen so far and want to learn more about Driftwood Pirates – or even purchase a copy of the comic – you can do it here. The volumes are sold separately and cost about 3,00$ (or your regional equivalent) each.