Long-running soccer strip Striker recently came to an end in The Sun – catching many fans by surprize, even though creator Pete Nash had been saying for some time he planned to end the saga. But, after 24 years of publication, both in The Sun and as a self-published nationally-distributed comic, Pete still hopes the series will enjoy new life in new forms – including the online publication of the first ever adventure on myebook.
When Striker came to a conclusion earlier this month, Pete, tells downthetubes he had a holiday, a little relived at no longer being beholden to the deadlines the strip imposed on his life. But on his return he was gobsmacked to find his inbox full of emails from anxious fans, wondering what had happened to their favourite football comic, as The Sun itself had given no indication it was coming to an end!
“I received hundreds of them and they’re still arriving,” says Pete, “so I hope fans will forgive me for not replying to each one personally.” Instead he is posting news about the strip’s post-Sun developments on www.striker3d.net, which has long been its official internet home. This includes hopes Pete’s long-held dream that the Striker saga will become a blockbuster movie or TV series as well as releasing the entire archive into a volume of books available in print.
“I have been warmed by so many kind comments and somewhat surprised by the strength of feelings expressed,” Pete told fans via the StrikerWorld forum (registration required), also revealing the ending of Striker was rather more rushed than he would have liked because The Sun decided to stop the Saturday pages in August, so he had to reduce the final episode he had written by five or six strips. “I left the story with an open ending to allow for the possibility of an eventual relaunch (Romeo and Todd would provide excellent scenarios) but The Sun clearly want to pursue their own ideas. Having said that, one would have thought they could have come up with a better replacement for Striker than web virals.”
Explaining the strip’s completion, he told fans, “Last year, I gave notice to The Sun that I felt the time was approaching to end Striker as it was becoming increasingly difficult to create fresh storylines for the characters and I did not want to run the risk of it becoming stale.
“There was always the possibility of re-launching it in the future and to this end I offered to create a replacement strip for The Sun or to rerun earlier adventures showing how Warbury Warriors were formed when Nick and Eric first got together. Sadly, The Sun did not wish to discuss this possibility.
“I ended the strip with a scenario that both wrapped up the storyline and left it open to the possibility of being restarted at a later date. I had no idea The Sun would leave their readers in the dark by failing to announce the strip was ending.”
This, of course, is not the first time The Sun has decided to leave fans in the dark about the strip’s future. Back in 2003, when Pete decided to launch his own weekly Striker comic, The Sun gave readers every impression the strip was over for good, even featuring the Warbury Warriors team being killed in a plane crash in its replacement strip, The Premier.
Behind the scenes, as the Press Gazette reported, the paper also accepted £85,000 for a series of adverts to mark the end of the comic strip appearing in The Sun and to tell readers it was launching as a comic in its own right – then refused to run them. The paper also touted replacement strip The Premier in a news item, only mentioning the new Striker comic toward the end, declaring it would be “The most exciting and innovative strip to be launched in a British newspaper for decades”. (It wasn’t).
Despite this – and the unfortunate demise of Pete’s Striker comic after 87 impressive issues, which even offered shares to readers to try to keep going, with huge success (but not enough to save it) – eventually Striker returned to The Sun, ousting The Premier, reaching a finale this month, much to the dismay of many fans of the strip, which has been created in digital form using Maya software for over 10 years. But even though the strip has ended its daily newspaper appearances, Pete still has plans for its future now he is back in full control, owning all rights to the saga.
“For a long time now I have wanted to publish the entire Striker archive as a series of books and develop it into a movie or TV series,” he says. “I now have the time to explore those possibilities.”