It’s easy to tell when a movie, show, or game has really found a passionate audience, because the fan art suddenly starts trending on social media. It’s common enough for media to go viral and spark plenty of trend pieces, online analysis, and TikTok gags without also prompting that artists’ urge to recontextualize and take ownership of a thing, but whenever art becomes one of the primary ways fans engage with a given thing they love, it’s almost always a sign of full-force committed involvement. Whether it’s Simpsons fans recontextualizing the show and continuing it in their own ways or Kirby fans celebrating all the dramatic possibilities of a new game mode, fan artists turn to some of their favorite things to help develop their voice and their audience — and just to express their excitement over whatever they love most.
The HBO Max pirate show Our Flag Means Death, starring Rhys Darby and Taika Waititi as real-life pirates Stede Bonnet and Blackbeard, is the newest fan-art trend on social media, and the quality of the art being produced is particularly stunning. The hashtag #OFMDfanart has blown up over the past 48 hours, as more and more artists contribute.
After a rocky start that doesn’t give away the series’ full intentions, Our Flag Means Death’s 10-episode first season morphed into a slow-burn bromance story that had fans angsting over whether they were being queerbaited. In the season 1 finale episodes, though, creator and writer David Jenkins explicitly turns the story into the actual romance fans were calling for. The final episode left viewers with big questions and raw emotions — the kind that lend themselves to expression through intense colors and dramatic styles.
Some of the most striking fan art creates moments that didn’t happen on the show, but that feel evocative and striking as artworks in their own right:
Our Flag Means Death. Stede/Ed. The rollercoaster of emotion I am still on 'cause we went in expecting the laughs and now I'm just a pile of overwhelmed queer feelings. Here is my visual petition for these two in S2. #blackbonnet #OurFlagMeansDeath #OFMDfanart pic.twitter.com/OvxRtBzHKT— Ponderosa | Kim Kuzuri (@ponderosa121) March 28, 2022
Others explore moods around individual characters, from playful or quiet moments between the central couple to different portraits of Blackbeard’s alternating rage and angst:
"Below the thunders of the upper deep,— demonic possession erotic self-expression (@Rabdoidal) March 28, 2022
Far, far beneath in the abysmal sea,
His ancient, dreamless, uninvaded sleep
The Kraken sleepeth: faintest sunlights flee"
- The Kraken by Alfred Lord Tennyson (1809-1892)#OFMDfanart #ofmd
✨ kofi link in bio if you’re feeling generous ✨ pic.twitter.com/69dQbQZvcY
Some artists are focusing on their favorite more minor characters, from evocative portraits to celebrations of the show’s other romantic elements:
Aaand it's done! Painting of Izzy Hands, played by the amazing @cononeilluk— Meli || Mutantspood. Gay pirates etc etc (@LadyVykeen) March 28, 2022
This was definitely a challenge but I had so much fun with it. Will post WIPs & Closeups in comments. #OurFlagMeansDeath #ofmd #izzyhands #fanart #realism #painting pic.twitter.com/g92BqjUjwY
“Cats are terrifying, everyone knows that! ‘Cause they’re witches! And they’ve got knives in their feet.” Frenchie is my favorite adorable pirate in #OurFlagMeansDeath and there isn’t enough art of him. I’m here to fix that! #ofmd pic.twitter.com/gsg7CpvZyR— Alex Miller (@smudgeandfrank) March 25, 2022
Jim and Oluwande, beloveds. TealOranges. Magnifico!— ☠️ Waldos (They/Them) ☠️ (@WaldosAkimbo) March 23, 2022
Our Flag Means Death! pic.twitter.com/8a1UbbKXrZ
Finally, some artists are living out their hopes for the show’s future. It remains to be seen what Our Flag Means Death creator David Jenkins wants to do with the show’s planned second and third season, but with season 2 still waiting for a greenlight, for the moment, the story is in the fans’ hands.