Interview - Pat Croce (No Quarter)

Pat Croce is a man that has seen his fair share of the world. This fair share includes sports as a physical therapist for the Philadelphia Flyers and President of the Philadelphia 76ers and people as an all around motivational guy. But what got him into comics was his lust for pirates, as evidenced by his museum and book of the same name, Pirate Soul. Now he's at Zenescope where he works on No Quarter, and it was at NY Comic Con that Tedd and I interviewed this man about the world.

Omnicomic: How did you get into comics?

Pat Croce: It started with Adam Slutsky, my cowriter. We were talking about doing a pirate book, and I have the Pirate's Soul book and he found me through my website and Pirate Soul, my museum in Key West. He said he knew I was the expert on pirates and he wanted to write a pirate book. He's written bartending books and he wanted to switch. So I contacted my agent and talked to Adam and somehow we started to get on the same wavelength about No Quarter. I also have my Blackbeard movie with Dreamworks and Spielberg attached to it (now Paramount has it). My writer is David Franzoni (who won the Oscar for Gladiator). This is not Pirates of the Caribbean.

Omnicomic: I know you're a pirate aficionado in real life, but you never really set out to make the comic right?

Croce: I've always loved new things, and graphic novels are great. So I started researching and found that some of the great movies are predicated on graphic novels. I created Charlie Drake (Charlie is my grandson's first name) and based him loseely on Sir Francis Drake. I had some of his DNA fusing with a guy that wanted to start out as a privateer who ultimately becomes an arch-pirate.

There's a guy...Henry Avery from 1695 or something. This guy had tons of silver and got away. He was smart enough to take his treasure and get away with it. And the book is how does someone get to that point.

Omnicomic: Is there a little bit of a tug and pull where you ask yourself how much of the comic (and movie) will be big budget action vs. how much will be pirate authenticity?

Croce: Very good point. I want a thread of authenticity. If you know pirates you know that Charlie Drake could hit New Providence (which was the pirate island around 1718) after Queen Anne's War ends and all these privateers have no job anymore. It would be like all the soldiers from Iraq coming back with all their weapons and no job. We come across Blackbeard and some of these other characters. So I want that authenticity, but at the same time I want to take it to another level.

I don't want it to be boring. The first issue you're really going to like. Its like a graphic novel, and I don't want anyone depicting it but us. The Blackbeard movie that we're working on should have a script should done by the end of Q1, and this is a big budget film. You know how he dies, but you have some creative license with his life. Charlie Drake is a figment of my imagination. What if I was a pirate? What would I do?

Omnicomic: You were a physical therapist for the Philadelphia Flyers. Do you ever find that that knowledge kind of helps you to depict a violent scene?

Croce: And I'm a fourth degree black belt, so that helps too. If we get someone in an armbar or something I know what it looks like. I think readers are smart. You want them to try and figure something out, but they can learn something at the same time. Not just about the weapons. But about the fighting in general.

Look at this place (referring to NY Comic Con). It's got a wide variety of people, so what's it going to take? I don't want to do the corny pirate. And that's what my comic and the movie will show: the democracy on the ship. The captain only has full authority during battle. Its called first among equals. As a matter of fact, in Blackbeard's journal it says "rum's all out, my rogues are plotting." It means they ran out of rum and his crew is rebelling against him!

Omnicomic: Do you worry that the movie will be too authentic?

Croce: Its authentic in the sense in that it ends with Blackbeard's death. The hero in the movie has to take something of a radical turn to capture Blackbeard. When Blackbeard hoists that Jolly Roger you better pay attention because he's going to come at you. He's a really cool pirate kind of like Tony Soprano, but then he goes a little crazy. People like to root for Tony Soprano, and the same is the case for Blackbeard.

In No Quarter, Charlie Drake has some essence of good in him, but sometimes you have to play the game to get by. These privateers were pirates before it was legal. I mean, they gave a share to the queen, but the British navy wasn't strong enough to stop them.

Omnicomic: What do you think is toughest about writing the book?

Croce: Story arc. Because you have to have tangential story arcs that all thread into one another. I want to leave with you a little sense of urgency in each book. And that's new to me. I've written several bestsellers (motivational books, Pirate Soul) and this is where my imagination gets to play. This is my passion. I'm trying to make it feel real and nasty.

Just like when I created the museum in Key West. It's just so cool because its pirates. People think its going to be a wax museum but its not. There are only two Jolly Roger flags in the world, and I own one of them. I own the only treasure chest in the world.

Omnicomic: Besides the book being about pirates, what's your favorite part about writing comics?

Croce: Being able to take creative license with the work. The violence, the sex, the language. I mean, you can be as nasty as you want. There's something I always talk about: when's the last time you've done something for the first time? This comic is that for me. And that keeps the boredom out of life; that's really a pirate's life anyway.