Tales of the Black Freighter is a story-in-story featured in the classic comic book mini-series Watchmen. In the world where “Watchmen” is set, they have comic books, but ones about heroes and crime fighters, like Superman, The Flash, The Shadow, The Phantom, etc. were only a fad in the 1930s, which lead to real people becoming masked crime fighters, soon after. Pirates and swashbucklers are the comic industry’s mainstays.
It is featured predominately in the subplot in which an African-American teenager reads it at a city newsstand while conversing with the vendor who runs the stand.
The story featured in the issues of the comic book shown is called "Marooned". It centers on a young castaway and his struggle to survive and return to his family, his actions eventually lead to his own downfall. The scenes in the comic are parallel in a way to the scenes in the actual story. Issue 5 of Watchmen features an excerpt from a book about the history of comic books and the popularity of Pirate stories in them, including the fictional history of the fictional comic series. According to the book, the first nine issues of "Tales of the Black Freighter" were drawn by Joe Orlando, who was a real comic artist and editor at DC Comics. Another subplot involves the series' writer Max Shea who is part of a group of artists who have gone missing.
Sadly, the comic book and its related subplots did not appear in the live-action film version of Watchmen and fans had to settle for an animated direct-to-DVD film based on “Marooned”.