Review by Peter Duncan
Steve Tanner is the man behind Time Bomb Comics, the Birmingham-based publisher of popular anthology series Flintlock and Bomb Scares and the Warrior-inspired, Brawler. With his latest publication, he returns to the 18th century setting that clearly fascinates him and one of the first characters to appear under the Time Bomb imprint, notorious Highwayman, Dick Turpin.
Dick Turpin and the Vengeful Spirit is a 56-page graphic novel written by Steve with art from Roland Bird and colours by Brett Burbridge, edited by Paul H. Birch, the creative team completed by Bolt-01 as letterer.
The adventure begins, as all such adventures should, on a dark and stormy night, on this occasion, All-Hallows Eve, of 1731. Turpin and his partner, Tom King, lie in wait for a carriage carrying rich aristocrats and fine pickings.
Fate takes a hand and the carriage crashes, spilling its passengers – and setting the stage for what the publishers describes, quite accurately as, a ‘spectral nightmare!” – in a good way, I hasten to add.
The story, with its many twists and turns, recalls the classic British horror films of the 1960s and 70s from Hammer and Amicus. Steve’s style as a writer is dense for modern comics, many of which seem to take minutes to read. There is a lot here, this is a substantial book that will keep the reader entertained for a considerable time. The plot is that of a traditional ghost story, but with enough action and humour to keep it moving along.
Roland Bird does a great job with the art. He tells the physical aspects of the story particularly well, with the early sequence of the carriage crash and a later scene involving grave digging, standing out. Character design is well thought out and his visuals for the phantom are striking.
It’s a little unfortunate that a single panel on a single page seems to have got away from him and that for that one frame, Lady Mary seems to be replaced by somebody else.
The colouring, by Brett Burbridge, is impressive and Bolt-01 does his usual excellent job on lettering.
Overall, this is a great looking book.
Dick Turpin and the Vengeful Shade was funded through Kickstarter, being fully funded within a day and hittng an impressive final total of almost three times the original target. An achievement that clearly demonstrates the strong following Steve Tanner has for his Time Bomb books.
His depiction of the 18th century has a loyal group of fans and is a throwback to the comics of yesteryear, when highwaymen and cavaliers were regularly featured in picture libraries and weekly adventure comics. This book is a welcome return of the genre but delivered in a modern way and with modernsensibili#es. It’s a book to look out for, to read and enjoy.
• Dick Turpin and the Vengeful Shade is published on 16th June 2020. 56 pages, full colour, perfect bound. £7.99 cover price. Website prices: £4 digital, £8.99 including delivery. Available, along with other fine comics from timebombcomics.com
Peter Duncan is editor of Sector 13, Belfast’s 2000AD fanzine and Splank! – an anthology of strips inspired by the Odhams titles, Wham!, Smash! and Pow! He’s also writer of Cthulhu Kids. Full details of his comics activities can be found at www.boxofrainmag.co.uk