Bill Lawton was the captain of the Black Pete. Originally a crewmember aboard the Vasquez de Coronado, in 1938 Lawton lost his leg to a shark attack during the sinking of the ship before Indiana Jones managed to save him. The following year, Jones hired Lawton's crew to assist in his search for a 12th century Viking knarr but Lawton and he got stranded on an iceberg together after Lawton, bitter over the loss of his limb, tried to kill Jones but was attacked by a polar bear and abandoned by his crew.
The pair were eventually rescued and encountered The Sea Witch's Sargasso Pirates, some of whom were convinced by Lawton to rise up against their captain. Lawton shot her, framed Jones for the crime and assumed leadership of the Freedom. However, The Sea Witch reemerged alive and well and, in the ensuing battle, Lawton finally got his comeuppance at the end of a U-boat's deck gun.
Originally serving aboard Panama Hat's Vasquez de Coronado, Bill Lawton was the only crewmember of the ship who survived the explosion that sank the ship off the Portugese coast in 1938. He was rescued by the American archaeologist Indiana Jones, the other survivor of the explosion, but not before Lawton lost his leg to a shark.
A year later, Lawton was the Captain of the Black Pete and he and his crew were hired by Jones to assist in the archaeologist's search for a 12th century Viking knarr in the North Atlantic Ocean. During that time, he plotted revenge against Jones for the loss of his leg. When Lawton, Jones, and rest of the Black Pete crew found the knarr embedded in an iceberg, Lawton tried to kill Jones with a battle axe. Just as he was going in for the kill, he was then attacked by a polar bear and abandoned by his crew who took him for dead. Lawton was saved from the bear when Jones shot it in the head. The pair formed an uneasy alliance but the two came to blows after being stranded for weeks. However, the ocean liner Normandie came to their rescue just in time.
Onboard the Normandie, Lawton then met up with a old acquaintance Cairo. He also continued to try and kill Jones but was prevented by Cairo and New Jersey Jones, a conman who was posing as Indiana's brother. Lawton then tried to get rid of Cairo and New Jersey by casting them off into a lifeboat. As he was lowering it, however, Indiana Jones then pushed Lawton and himself into the vessel. Lawton was then tied up and the group found themselves adrift until they were carried into the Sargasso Sea. Lawton was untied and allowed to go with them as long as he did not cross Jones again.
Lawton and the others were captured by the Sargasso Pirates and taken to Sargasso Bay to the pirates' stranded ship, Freedom. There they met the leader, The Sea Witch, who freed Lawton when he said that he hailed from the sea and was welcomed into her rank of pirates. Lawton asked for Jones's gun and Cairo, but was denied Cairo by The Sea Witch.
Soon after, Lawton led a mutiny against The Sea Witch with some of her own men, shooting her with Jones' weapon. However, both Indiana and New Jersey managed to escape. Disposing of The Sea Witch's body, Lawton then told Segar, The Sea Witch's quartermaster, and the rest of the pirates that it was Indiana Jones who had killed her and sent the crew after him. Lawton was then named captain and leader of the pirates. After Jones was captured, Lawton tried to persuade Cairo to join his side but she bit his hand. Segar was able to convince Lawton to spare her life.
When an old German U-boat came out of the sea weed, Lawton informed his crew that they would use this ship to escape the Sargasso Sea. Lawton sent Jones down into the U-boat to see if it was safe to enter. He tried to suffocate Jones by sealing him inside but again he was stopped by Segar.
Later, while searching for Jones and Cairo, Lawton was confronted by a recovered Sea Witch. Segar turned on Lawton but was shot. Lawton took a couple of pirates with him and named New Jersey Jones his new first mate. Lawton escaped the Sargasso Sea onboard the U-boat, towing the Freedom behind him but was informed that there was someone onboard the ship. He tried to destroy it with torpedoes but failed. Lawton then ordered the U-boat to ram the Freedom, successfully sinking her. Lawton fought Jones with the battle axe onboard the U-boat but the priceless axe was lost at sea when Lawton lobbed it at the archaeologist. Jones managed to bring Lawton to his knees but the sailor swore to keep coming back unless he killed him. At that moment, The Sea Witch turned the U-boat's gun on Lawton and riddled him with bullets.