Before I talk about the actual character for today, I need to talk about a half-character. So, let me introduce you to Green-Eyed Sue
Sue gets about twelve lines, in the last third of s00j's three part Wendy Trilogy
(which picks up when Wendy is on Hook's ship and told to turn pirate or walk the plank --"the story goes she told him no, but not all tales are true").
One day Wendy says to Peter, "I'd like more girls on my crew."
So Peter goes a-hunting Lost Girls and brings back Green-eyed Sue.
Green Eyed Sue was feisty, quite surly and quite sad
called Suzy Rotten by her mum and tomboy by her dad.
At the chance to be a pirate and call Peter Pan a friend,
Her face lit up, her sadness fled, and she ne'er looked home again.
She proudly followed Wendy, and she ne'er went home again.
Sue becomes first mate, as she's the first Lost Girl to live upon
the ship and give to Wendy all the spirit she can give.
and then, after Wendy declares she's ready to go home...
Nearly all the crew let Wendy know they cannot wait
But stoic stand a handful, including the first mate.
Green-eyed Sue before her captain asks to plainly speak her mind:
"It's sooner I'd lay down my life than leave this ship behind!"
"A simple life of growing up is surely not for me.
Working as a sailor's been the first time I am free.
So by your leave dear Captain, I will be a pirate still
And carry on the legacy of our Red-handed Jill!"
and as a lesson, at the very end...
Such warning fables show each mom and dad a thing or two.
If e'er your sweetling makes a cutlass from a cardboard tube,
You'll ne'er berate nor tell her it's a boy's game she pursues.
The freer that you raise a mind, the brighter it will bloom,
And ye'd rather have her home than off to join some scurvy crew
Or sail with the likes of Green-eyed Sue!
Ohhhhhh yes. Thankfully, I was blessed with parents who wouldn't dream of telling me that playing pirate was a boy's game (not when Commodore Greykell rules the Chesapeake Bay), so I never had to go off and become a Lost Girl proper, but trust me, the freedom of the sea has called to me longer than most anything else. I was already well into the pirate theme when the original Pirates of the Caribbean movie came out --you can keep your x-wings, boys, I've got a different sort of ship to sail1
And at the end, that's the line I need. "First time I've been free" --freedom is my life force, my desire, my need. Everything from my love life to my collection of notebooks echo and reflect on my endless drive to be forever free.
So that's Green-Eyed Sue. But she's not really a character, she's only a few lines in a song2
. Not like, say...Mary "Bloody Jacky" Faber
There are 12 books in her saga --the last of which I have not yet read3
-- and they are some of the finest young adult literature I've ever had the pleasure of consuming. In the first book (Bloody Jack: Being An Account of the Curious Adventures of Mary “Jacky” Faber, Ship’s Boy), we follow Jacky as she sneaks onto a ship of the Royal Navy as a ship's boy --doubly complex since she's every inch a fiery young woman. Her series of books is some of the finest historical fiction tall tales there are to read --she rubs shoulders with Goya, Napoleon, Washington, and King George at various points. She sails the seas of China and all the way down the Mississippi, she sings and dances and acts, and she sails on every ship imaginable --navy, slavers, whalers, pirate.
Please read these books, they are so so good.
But the thing that makes them the most good is the spitfire heroine, who is...so me. So *very* me. Even for this project, she is *exceptionally* me. Jacky is impulsive, she doesn't always think her plans through, instead trusting in her ability to improvise her way out of anything. She loves the sea, she loves her *freedom* and she's forever moving towards it. She somehow manages to inspire an overwhelming loyalty in her friends and loved ones, even when she frustrates them madly. And the flirting! Oh, the flirting!!
She is the first YA character I've ever seen who I actually had a stake in her love triangle. Mostly because Jacky's got her true love forever (and she is, of course, saving her precious maidenhood for dear Jaimy), but when he's not around, she's more than willing to have a little bit of fun with the closest bit of pretty...and not just pretty boys! It's pretty clear in a couple of them that she's willing to snuggle up with other young ladies (and I stubbornly maintain the interpretation that her and Cheng Shih were lovers, it's increasingly un-subtle as the series progresses...and yes, that is Cheng Shih as in the greatest pirate queen of all time.)
And her dreams! Oh, Jacky dreams big and wide and splendid! Somewhere around book five or six I took a step back and said "okay, this is too much suspension of disbelief that a character could have all these things happen." And then I checked my damn brain, and reprocessed and went "ah. These are tall tales. She is a folklore heroine, and therefore *of course* she's going to hang with everyone famous of the day." She has such brilliant adventures, from singer to spy, and throughout it all she's going back and forth with her costuming as to whether she wants to present as a girl or a boy. She's not presented as a trans character, not really, but she is presented as a female character who actively *wants* to spend a lot of time dressed as a boy, and not because she "has" to, and that's a very satisfying kind of queer for me to read about.
I love Jacky Faber like fire and earth. I'm probably due for another read through of her books.
I'm going to post this before it gets any longer. Yo-ho, yo-ho, a pirate's life for me!
MOOP!1: Actually, I am one thousand percent in favour of space pirates. Someone has a little meta-fanfic they wrote for Captain Jack Sparrow and the second great Age of Exploration (which has not yet happened), and it's perfect.
2: ACTUALLY apparently she's also s00j. Like, s00j was called Susie Rotten and everything. There are some substantial reasons why I don't wanna compare myself one way or another to Ms. Tucker (although I will always feel a weird twinge looking at the cover of Tangles because UM THAT'S ME in the drawing. Most of the drawings of her don't twitch that in me, but that one, man.
3: For much the same reason I've never read Dirk Gently. LA Meyer passed away a couple years ago (may the sea keep his soul), and once I've read the last Jacky book there will never be any more, not ever. It hurts too much to consider. Someday, just not yet.