Captain Alfred Bulltop Stormalong was an American folk hero and the subject of numerous nautical-themed tall tales originating in Massachusetts. Stormalong was said to be a sailor and a giant, some 30 feet (9.1 m) tall; he was the master of a huge clipper ship known in various sources as either the Courser or the Tuscarora, a ship purportedly so tall that it had hinged masts to avoid catching on the moon.
New England was where he was beached as a baby, already three fathoms (18 ft) tall. According to one telling, he outgrew Cape Cod and moved to Boston, where he signed aboard the first ship that would take him at the age of twelve. It was said that he was responsible for the tradition of referring to seamen as “able-bodied” by signing his name on his first shipboard employment contract as “Stormalong, A.B.”
He had a lifelong rivalry with a Kraken, a huge sea monster from Norse myth; in fact, the Kraken escaped from him in their first encounter, causing a dejected Stormalong to abandon the sea life for life as a farmer somewhere in the Midwest. Some sources say he had a ship so large that a stable of Arabian horses were aboard for his crew to get from one end of the ship to the other. Among other things, the ship was said to have drilled the course of the Panama Canal by slamming into the Panamanian coast, and to have gotten stuck in the English Channel, which required the crew to grease the ship’s hull with soap. The soap combined with the scraping of the hull against the Gray Cliffs of Dover turned them bright white.
As Stormalong grew older, he eventually encountered the Kraken again, this time successfully drawing the beast into a whirlpool from which it never escaped.
The original is a character I’d never heard of until I saw Keith Howell’s AMERICAN HEROES image. But I love the concept, so I read more about him. And I came up with an idea to write my own version of the character, but as a sci-fi series. Set in the far future, Captain Stormalong leads a band of space pirate, flying through the Galaxy on the Starship Courser, stealing things and having a good time, while staying one step ahead of the Galactic law enforcement authorities. My version wouldn’t be as gigantic as the original, but he’d be big, and that would be explained as a result of genetic engineering.
So, of course, I contacted Keith Howell himself for this updated version. I really didn’t have much instructions for him, I think I just said something like “draw a sci-fi version of Captain Stormalong”, and the rest was all him.