I've been noting several classic comic books and animated films that have reminded me of you and 'The Wannabes' lately thoughts on what I've see. This isn't to distract you but perhaps to inspire you and suggest there were others who have paved the way and been through similar experienced. There have certainly been many.
Here's a fun one from Frank Frazetta:
...and not quite a pirate but the origin of Popeye reminded me of Flemm's initial quest to sail to sea. I find it fascinating that he originally appeared as only a secondary character in the Thimble Theater comic strip. It sure didn't take him long to become the main attraction.
I've also uploaded a drawing/prediction from back in 1936 on what the state of films might be like in 1960. I find that image rather appropriate given the current emphasis on 3D in theaters. (Your characters would fit right in)
Note: I think the drawing is from 'Fleisher's Animated News' the mimeographed newsletter that was circulated in the mid to late 30s. Boy would I love to have copies of all those newsletters!
All this to say, you come from a very rich tradition in comic books, comic strips and animated pictures. Be proud of your contributions to it.