Madame Buccaneer – Blog #006 of the 160 “Pretty faces” book cover Challenge

This is book #006 on the list of 160 books that Gardner Francis Fox wrote from 1953 to 1986. This is the fifth book cover I scratched.

With cutlass and pistol, she ruled the Spanish main.

Madame Buccaneer Gardner F Fox scratchboard cover art Kurt Brugel historical fiction female pirate privateer

Mr. Fox wrote Madame Buccaneer in 1953. It was the first paperback novel Mr. Fox wrote. It reads like something between a lengthy pulp and a serious spell-binder.

The story takes place during the years where England and Spain ruled the high-seas around the Caribbean. The story takes a simple man and turns him into a hard pirate.

Dead or alive the Spanish hidalgos wanted them, the fiery, beautiful Lizzie Hollister and Martin Chandos, the renegade Irishman. Their magic seamanship and gallant swords had cut a bloody swath across the deeps of the Spanish Main. Lizzie, the English beauty, alone was a tempestuous prize for the man who could catch and tame her. At their backs fought the Galleon crew, a grim-faced cutthroat assembly, for whom kill and pillage were the laws of the sea and gold and jewels their rightful reward.

The story takes place in the early 1600s, when the Americas were just getting going. At the end of the book, some of the characters sail to New Amsterdam (New York).

The story-telling he uses in Madame Buccaneer would become a sort of template for him to write other historical fiction novels. He would use the action and adventure he learned from writing comic books and pulps for the past sixteen years. Then he would weave real historical events to give the reader a rich sense of atmosphere.

Our hero is Martin Chandos an Irish sailor.

Our heroine is Lizzie Hollister and wayward female buccaneer.

The baddie is Don Carlos Esquivel Alcantara a Spanish buccaneer sea-captain.

This has its romantic moments as well as its adventure. Here’s a an early scene being set up by the stories hero and heroine:

She stood by the stern windows, with the dying sunlight coming in on her. “For a man whose back was whipped raw, you defend Spain hotly,” she snarled.

“I’m not defending anyone, acushla. I say he was a damned pirate to board me when there’s peace between our countries. And so he was!”

Her lips twisted as she slapped the carved woodwork of the bulkhead. “That is the way of Spain in the New World. Get used to it, if you’re to stay here.”

“Aye. Don Carlos gave me to understand as much. He’s drawn an iron curtain across it, so he says. He means to keep everyone but Spanishers east of it.”

“An iron curtain! I never thought of it like that, but it’s true enough. A curtain formed of the ships and the steel of Spain. Penetrate that curtain, and you become fair game for her galleons. She’ll take and sink you, and steal what you call your own. She’ll kill and drag you off to slave in her labor camps, the mines. She’s nothing but a robber!”

The original cover really sells this book.

Madame Buccaneer Gardner F Fox scratchboard cover art Kurt Brugel historical fiction female pirate privateer by Barye Phillips

Originally published in August 1953 by Gold Medal Books

The cover Artist: Baryé Phillips

I transcribed this book in 2017.

Here’s what one Goodread reviewer had to say:

Enjoyable Historical Romance about the buccaneers of Tortuga. We learn of the beginning of the buccaneers and enjoy a rousing story.

  • Barry

This story is worth the ride. It’s nice to just sit back and go on an adventure now and again.

Madame Buccaneer Gardner F Fox scratchboard cover art Kurt Brugel historical fiction female pirate privateer

I create the cover illustrations to size. I work on 6 x 6 black Ampersand Scratchboard. The book covers are 6 x 9, which leaves 3 inches for text. I want a clean, “Penguin Books” look and feel to the covers. I’m using the pretty faces motif to keep a unified look and feel to the whole library. The back cover has an image of the original cover, the date it was originally printed, and the original story description.

I used this photo reference from mjranum-stock to inspire me.

photo reference of a woman dressed as a pirate with a sword and eye-patch
Rael C, Allentown – Dec 15, 2007

Marcus J. Ranum (mjranum-stock) has some of the most amazing photo references on DeviantART. They are so imaginative in their own right.

Here’s a short video I put together of me working on the scratchboard process.

I have had many positive comments about the “new” covers. I feel pretty positive I will be able to do all 160 book covers.

Stay tuned in and find out. Join my Newsletter to get notifications of when I’ve posted a new blog entry.

I will not be working on books in the order as Mr. Fox wrote them. I am doing the book cover designs based on when the transcribers who are assisting me, finish one. As they complete a book, it will be the newest release, so it will get a new book cover design. I also have to go back and replace the photo-bashed covers I made when I first started the Gardner Francis Fox Library in 2017.

Here’s the photo-bashed one I did for Madame Buccaneer in 2017.

Photoshop version Madame Buccaneer Gardner F Fox scratchboard cover art Kurt Brugel historical fiction female pirate privateer

Thank you for stopping by and finding out more about what I’m doing. If you are interested in reading Madame Buccaneer, please click over to The Gardner Francis Fox Library to read Chapter One.

Order eBooks Here and Reprints Here


Kurt Brugel

Custodian & Illustrator