After a successful launch at the recent Enniskillen Comics Festival, the Belfast originated anthology comic SPLANK! , eited and published by Peter Duncan, is now available, featuring some fabulous new strips from Mike Higgs (creator of “The Cloak”, first published in POW! back in the 1960s, now revived), Davy Francis, Marc Jackson, Nigel Parkinson, John Robbins, Dave Windett and many, many more.
It’s a terrific debut in the style of 1960s British comic anthologies, mashing adventure and humour strips in one place, with the humour strip “Mouse” by John Robbins a particular favourite of mine, but a new one page “The Cloak” and a new strip, “Ninja Warrior”, both by Mike Higgs are high points, too.
Starting life as an imaginary Irish comic invented by blogger Peter Duncan for an April Fool post back in 2016, SPLANK! was supposed to have been an Irish version of Odhams’ title POW! It had been created to prevent controversy when the Mike Higgs’ strip “The Cloak” cover-featured a villain named The Leprechaun.
“’The Cloak’” was the strip I always went to first” Peter tells us, recalling his first encounters with POW! back in the 1960s. “It was a weird spy spoof, with art like nothing I’d ever seen beforr.
“I loved it, and ‘The Cloak’ became the main inspiration behind the ‘revivial’ of the imagined comic,” he continues.
When working on another project, Peter approached Mike Higgs who drew a strip featuring The Cloak and Peter in his alter ego of ‘The Grumpy Penguin’.
“That’s been one of the biggest thrills for me in getting Splank! out, to be a character in a Mike Higgs strip and also to have him draw a story based on my plot”.
SPLANK! is a magazine-sized, 44 page collection of comic strips, mixing mad-cap humour with stories of pirates, chimney sweeps fighting the forces of darkness and some almost true tales of the comics of old, It really does carry some of the spirit of the anthology comics of old, with a cover story by Marc Jackson, along with strips by current ‘Dennis’ artist, Nigel Parkinson (a new creation, the hilarious “Dresden Q. Otherside, Defective Detective”), as well as the two strips by the British comics’ legend Mike Higgs.
Freelance cartoonist Dave Windett, who has worked on a host of UK comics including Beano, Dandy, The DFC and a huge number of TV licensed comics, has contributed a beautifully drawn tale of “Spookytown” and former Oink artist, Belfast’s own Davy Francis, has illustrated the story of Belfast’s most useless bad guy, The Grumpy Penguin.
Mal Coney and Alan Nolan bring their unique styles to the pages of SPLANK! with “Sheena Shenanigans”, and there’s a charming story by Cat Byrne,”The Life of Ethyl Death’ and, as mentioned above a strip by the Dublin-based artist, John Robbins.
Adventure stories are supplied by Northern Ireland writers Glenn Matchett and Colin Sinclair, with art by Scott Twells and Morgan Brinksman, artists who could not have more different styles but both of whom really know how to tell a story.
Editor Peter Duncan was also delighted to include the first five pages of the superb “Beans and Tucker” by the ultra-talented John Farrelly and a preview of the Cthulhu Kids comic that he and Galaxafreaks writer and artist Andrew Pawley have just launched on Kickstarter.
This is a great new humour comic simply crammed with talent and deserving of your attention Not every strip in an anthology is going to hit the spot for every reader, but there’s plenty of variety, lots of laughs and some very clever writing, too.
Peter tells us he’s already looking for material for a second issue, and is especially keen to find sports stories (especially if they involve Ireland winning the rugby Grand Slam again) or supernatural tales in the spirit of Misty or Scream.
• SPLANK! Issue One is available now for £7.00 (UK), postage paid, via Paypal to Splank@Boxofrainmag.co.uk. International Prices for Issue One – Ireland and Europe £9.45, United and Canada £10.45, Australia £10.75 = payment to the same PayPal address
• You can contact the editor at the same address and get details of the other projects he is involved with at his web site www.boxofrainmag.co.uk/splank
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.