Striker Goes Down

Striker Comic Cover(Updated 10/5/05):The UK’s weekly football comic Striker is to fold this week, on its 87th issue.

Publisher Pete Nash broke the news in last week’s issue and in a letter to the title’s shareholders — many of them readers who invested in Striker3d last July in a bid to keep the publication afloat.

The cancellation also means Striker 3d’s War of the Worlds project, scheduled for a launch later this year is in doubt.

“It’s tragic, but we have finally come to the end of a rocky road,” Nash announced in his weekly editorial. “I have to announce that next week’s issue of Striker will be the last comic.

“We have tried everything we can to make it the success it deserves to be but we have finally been beaten into the ground by the lack of resources that have hampered us ever since our launch back in August, 2003.

“In hindsight,” Nash feels, “I can hold my hands up and say that I bit off more than I could chew, that I was too ambitious and overly optimistic. But I believed, wrongly, that Striker‘s appeal and popularity could overcome the massive odds that were stacked against us as a result of launching on our small budget.”

The cancellation is a deep personal blow to Pete Nash, who created Striker as a strip for The Sun newspaper 20 years ago, developed it into a full page computer-generated strip and then parted with the tabloid to develop Striker as a standalone publication.

“I feel like the opposite of King Midas,” says Nash. “All the ideas that seemed so good at the time have turned to lead instead of gold. It’s such a shame because everybody at Striker has worked so hard to make the comic. And our readers, particularly those who bought shares, have been so supportive that I feel I have let them down.

“The money raised by readers who brought shares last July had given us a lifeline,” he reveals, “and by September we had achieved breakeven by cutting costs and increasing the cover price. The introduction of ‘Billy’s Boots’ [an old soccer strip first published in the 1970s] and other new features was popular with most of our readers and we entered the new year with renewed confidence.”

Sadly, dwindling sales, a lack of finance for any major promotion and the ongoing battle to get the title into newsagents in the face of distribution changes that do little to support small publishers, meant the end for Striker.

The title also failed to secure distribution through the UK arm of Diamond Comics, which meant it was not on sale in comic shops, even though Diamond do distribute the only other UK adventure title, 2000AD.

“It has been our inability to reverse — or even stabilise — the slow but steady decline in our sales that has finally defeated us,” says Nash. “We invested in a glossy cover to increase pagination and make the product more appealing to readers and potential advertisers — all to no avail. We increased the print run and printed posters for newsagents as part of a drive to increase availability — but still people complained they couldn’t see it in the shops.”

Striker Comic Cover“For an independent comic to have even gotten this far in this day and age is a triumph,” feels cartoonist and comics writer Lew Stringer, who has charted the rise and fall of British adventure comics for many years, “and should always be considered a success not a failure.

“I’m not a footie fan by any means, but I’ve been buying Striker since day one to support it. What I found interesting was the numerous letters from readers who said things like “My wife and mates think I’m daft for buying a comic at my age but…”. This proves that Striker was reaching the general public; something Marvel and DC only dream about these days!”

Despite the cancellation, Nash told downthetubes.net he was hopeful Striker would return, perhaps once more as part of a newspaper, alongside a re-launched monthly magazine title which could feature Classic Striker and feature material. If it happens, the news will be announced on Striker 3D’s reader forum: www.strikerworld.co.uk

“What makes the failure of the comic so hard to bear is the incredible reaction from our readers, who are so upset to see it close,” says Pete. “However, it also gives me all the motivation I need to try and resurrect it in a new format.”

Here at downthetubes, we’ve followed Striker‘s progress with interest — and been involved behind the scenes in making small suggestions and offering ideas for its development since before the title launched. I’m very sorry to see the title fold, since success could have inspired other publishers to dip their toes in the adventure comics market and see the return of a much-missed genre of comics to UK newstand. Early on in Striker‘s planning stages, Pete had plans for a companion title featuring a number of computer generated adventure strips, a comic that had the potential to be a new 2000AD.

Striker‘s cancellation is a grim blow to any prospect of that. confirming many other publishers belief that the market is well and truly stone dead.

Striker appears daily in the Scottish Daily Record at present and Pete says that deal will continue unless Striker3D secure a deal with a national newspaper.

I wish Pete and his team well for the future — he gave Striker his all in an effort to make it work — and hope the Striker 3D team find deserved success in their future endeavours.

John Freeman

The founder of downthetubes, John describes himself as is a "freelance comics operative", currently working as a freelance editor for TITAN COMICS, as Creative Consultant on the new DAN DARE audio adventures for B7 Media, and on promotional work for the LAKES INTERNATIONAL COMIC ART FESTIVAL and LANCASTER COMICS DAY. John has worked in British comics publishing for over 30 years, starting out at Marvel UK, where he edited a number of the Genesis 1992 books with Paul Neary. His numerous credits include editor of titles such as Doctor Who Magazine at Marvel and Star Trek Magazine and Babylon 5 Magazine at Titan Magazines, where he was Managing Editor. He also edited STRIP Magazine and worked as an editor on several audio comics for ROK Comics, including TEAM M.O.B.I.L.E. and THE BEATLES STORY. Most recently he is writing CRUCIBLE as a creator-owned project with 2000AD artist Smuzz, published on Tapastic; and DEATH DUTY and SKOW DOGS with Dave Hailwood for the digital comic 100% Biodegradable.

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