The Splank! Annual 2020, a free comic promoting creators from the UK and Ireland in the face of Comic-Con cancellations has just launched. The free title is the brainchild of indie comics editor, writer and publisher Peter Duncan – and there’s an option for readers to make a donation in support of NHS Together, the National Health Service charity appeal.
The book, which harks back to the traditional hard-backed annuals that were a staple of British Christmas stockings, combines work from professional artists, small-press publishers and newcomers in a mix of humour and adventure strips – with a few trips into the surreal world of Dada.
The annual was put together by Peter Duncan, a longtime comics fan turned small-press publisher, who says Splank! has two purposes. First, to promote the work of creators hit by the cancellation of comic conventions and shows, and secondly, to promote a dedicated appeal via JustGiving appeal for donations to NHS Together, a charity that supports workers and volunteers in the UK National Health Service.
“As Comic Convention after Comic Convention was cancelled, small press writers and artists were losing a huge portion of their income,” Peter explains. “As a comics fan I wanted to see if there was anything I could do to help.
“While I was musing over that idea, I was taken ill and had to go into A&E in Belfast for a procedure. I was struck, as usual, by the compassion and care that all of the staff in the Royal Victoria Hospital gave to me and all other patients. At a time when they were literally putting their lives on the line for us, their top priority still lay with the health and comfort of the patients they were treating.
“I was lucky, I was home in a matter of hours, none the worse for wear,” he continues, “but my determination to do something to say thank you to those wonderful, brave people was greater than ever”.
With the assistance of a small army of generous and talented creators, Peter, decided to revive his 2018 title, Splank!, a tribute to the comics of his childhood, adding more than 100 pages of material (which are mostly new but including some samples from previously published comics) and deciding to make it available as a free download.
Contributors include Nigel Parkinson, Leslie Stannage and Gary Whitlock from Beano, and the legendary Steve MacManus.
“Steve was editor of 2000AD during the golden years of the ‘Galaxy’s Greatest Comic’ and wrote a text story capturing perfectly, the essence of something from a Battle or Valiant annual,” notes Peter.
“Add the cream of the UK and Irish small press scene, and friends from Sector 13, the 2000AD fanzine I edit, and some brilliant newcomers – and I think you have something a little special.”
You can grab the free comic here on GetMyComics, and there are more details about the project on the Splank! webpage, including a growing list of links to the websites and e-shops of contributors and friends.
To donate to the Splank! fundraiser, check out the Justgiving page, which is also promoted on the getmycomics.com site from which the comic will be distributed.
“My huge thanks to Adrian Clarke at Getmycomics.com, all of the writers and artists who supplied material for Splank!,” says Peter, “especially Mike Higgs, legendary creator of ‘The Cloak’ who not only put Peter in a story featuring his old story but also drew (and dramatically improved) my first ever comic script!”
The founder of downthetubes, which he established in 1998. John works as a comics and magazine editor, writer, and on promotional work for the Lakes International Comic Art Festival. He is currently editor of Star Trek Explorer, published by Titan – his third tour of duty on the title originally titled Star Trek Magazine.
Working in British comics publishing since the 1980s, his credits include editor of titles such as Doctor Who Magazine, Babylon 5 Magazine, and more. He also edited the comics anthology STRIP Magazine and edited several audio comics for ROK Comics. He has also edited several comic collections, including volumes of “Charley’s War” and “Dan Dare”.
He’s the writer of “Pilgrim: Secrets and Lies” for B7 Comics; “Crucible”, a creator-owned project with 2000AD artist Smuzz; and “Death Duty” and “Skow Dogs” with Dave Hailwood.