Jump to content


Inspiration for Monkey Island


Recommended Posts

In the unpopular opinions thread there was recently talk about the original vs the SE logos, and it had me start digging up logos from the Pirates of the Carribbean rides, and that took me down a number of rabbit holes until I ended up looking at posters for an old adventure movie (maybe a serial?) called “The Secret of Treasure Island.” I didn’t really know where to post it so I am making a new thread for cultural ephemera that is Monkey Island-ish. 

Note I’m not claiming these are things that are a confirmed direct influence on the game. Unless cited by a creator, that is impossible to assume, but I think it’s fun to find things that have been in the air, in the cultural consciousness, as predecessors operating in the same space, or things that in retrospect just “feel Monkey Island-ish.”


First up are just a few of the logos used for the Pirates of the Carribbean rides (which are fun for how varied they are, and how they all seem “piratey” in different ways) and a couple posters and title cards for “The Secret of Treasure Island,” which while more crude than Monkey Island, are definitely evocative of the cover paintings for the first two games. 








  • Like 2
  • Thanks 1
  • Wow 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Fun fact about The Secret of Treasure Island — the original story was written by L. Ron Hubbard. Which makes me deeply meditate on the “inspiration” part. 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

A few more pieces of Disneyland art: the map to Tom Sawyer’s Island, which has always been very evocative of the early Monkey Island maps (especially Monkey 2’s maps) and was @Trapezzoid recently re-shared in the Return thread. 



And some promotional imagery for the Swiss Family Treehouse attraction at Disneyland, which is very directly alluded to as a location on Booty Island in 2. 




Also, more generally, if you like the cartooney-with-a-very-slight-edge-of-menace vibe of Monkey Island’s pirates, it’s always worth looking through the galleries of original concept art for the Pirates of the Carribbean ride, all of which is excellent. Here are a couple:





I know there is plenty outside Disney parks, but it’s something I’m familiar with!

  • Thanks 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

8 minutes ago, Remi said:

Fun fact about The Secret of Treasure Island — the original story was written by L. Ron Hubbard. Which makes me deeply meditate on the “inspiration” part. 

Wow, that’s wild. 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

1 hour ago, ThunderPeel2001 said:

I'm so glad I got to go on the Pirates of the Caribbean ride many times before it was movie-ified.

Most of the changes are, IMO, pretty minor. The details of many scenes have changed over what is now decades of revision, but the mood of the ride is fundamentally unchanged. 

Some recent updates have actually removed some of the movie content and reinstated some of the original audio, and even added some tiny setpiece details in line with the original 60s character designs and style: The dark hallway with the voice saying “dead men tell no tales” and audio of a scared pirate telling you you’ve seen too much and are cursed, was for a while replaced with a video projection of Davy Jones or Blackbeard, but those projector scenes have been removed, the original audio reinstated, and a small vignette added of a skeleton pirate turning into a real pirate as you pass in the boat, and it’s a wonderfully simple trick done with a mirror split down the middle:



It directly precedes the reveal of the huge ship vs fort setpiece, a tiny transition moment as you leave the skeleton vignettes for the “real world.”

With Pirates I think it’s easy to obsess over the details, and I understand when people have a favorite moment removed or swapped out for something else, but I think the overall tone of the ride is currently in really good shape. 

  • Like 4
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Besides On Stranger Tides, I feel on fairly safe ground in surmising that George MacDonald Fraser's satirical pirate novel The Pyrates was something Ron Gilbert read while brainstorming MI1 - mainly because the book's hero is a dashing Royal Navy man named Ben Avery, meant to be a younger version of the infamous historical pirate Henry Every, who seized the Mughal Emperor's treasure ship Ganj-i-Sawai (along with its escort ship the Fateh Muhammad), packed with many of the Emperor's close relatives who suffered great violence, while the ships were sailing back to India from a pilgrimage to Mecca. What happened to the real Henry Every after the raid is uncertain; as far as can be surmised, he seems to be one of the rare pirates who "got away with it".


The early design documents for MI1 describe the protagonist (then called "Smear West") as a pirate who seized a treasure fleet and then became a has-been from retelling the story a bunch of times, much like Guybrush in MI2 with killing LeChuck. That detail as presented in the design documents seems to be specifically modeled on Henry Every's career (few pirates ever seized prizes as rich as Every's), and the idea of seeing such an otherwise famous protagonist at different times in his life feels like something Gilbert might have picked up from Fraser's novel (though in this case taking inspiration from the unknown "after" of Every's career rather than the "before").


The early name of Largo LaGrande, "Lord Jack", also suggests a possible connection with Joseph Conrad's novel Lord Jim, about a disgraced sailor who ultimately finds redemption through death. Whatever bearing such a story might have on a planned storyline for Largo I couldn't say.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now

  • Create New...