Pete Nash, the creator of the hugely-successful Striker comic, has outlined plans for a new comics project over on the StrikerWorld forum. Rather than editorialise his statement, here it is in full, for both potential readers (and comic creators) to mull.
Regular readers of downthetubes will recall Striker has its own long-running weekly comic, which essentially fell foul of the way comics and magazine titles are distributed to the UK news stand, stacking the odds against long term success for smaller publishers without deep pockets.
Pete’s had a long time to think about the reasons for Striker‘s failure as an ongoing news stand publication, and has now developed a new plan utilising crowdfunding that not only would see the return of Striker as part of the title but would also feature Pete’s other creation, the SF title “Psycops” – and fans who have supported the strip through thick and thin have, generally, welcomed his announcement.
In other news, Striker Volume 4 – is on sale now from the Striker web shop. This collection features every adventure from January, 1999, through to the start of 2001, the period when Striker said goodbye to pen and ink and became the first comic strip in the world to be created entirely in 3D computer-generated software.
This 320-page blockbuster (these collections really offer bang for your buck!) also heralds the introductions of schoolboy striker Callum Angelo and the irrepressible Fabian De Guisson.
As with all the books in the collection, there’s a fascinating introduction with photos by Pete Nash, who looks back on the amazing milestones and events in this period that continued to shape Striker’s history.
Prices are £25 including UK delivery or £30 for a book signed by Pete Nash. Unsigned books will be despatched from the first week of December and signed books from December 7. (For overseas rates, please email Lucinda at firstname.lastname@example.org).
Over to Pete about his new comic plans…
“As I think you all know by now, it’s been a tough two years since the new editor at The Sun decided to end Striker (and Hagar!) only to then ask for it to come back 10 days later after fans complained.
“The new deal resulted in a much lower fee from The Sun – not even enough to cover production costs – but enabled me to advertise merchandise from the strip and take the revenue. And it’s the revenue from the sales of the three books released so far that has kept Striker going, so once again, a massive thank you to everyone who has bought one or more copies.
“There are two lessons from that turn of events: firstly, I can no longer depend on The Sun, and secondly, neither can I take continuing good sales from the books for granted.
“One interesting observation that has materialised in the last few days is that even though the mugs we’ve just released are a third of the price of the books, it’s the books that are the biggest sellers. The mugs are fine but people like Striker because of the stories and the ability to engage with them.
“So where does Striker go from here? Well, that is going to be entirely up to what you guys do in the new year.
“My intention is to launch a new weekly publication that will be printed and sold through subscription and in the shops for around £2.50. There would also be a cheaper online edition.
“Before I go any further, let me make this clear: I lost a six-figure sum on the comic and the fantastic fans who bought shares didn’t see a return on their investment (aside from the exclusive shareholder prints). For that reason, I won’t be seeking investment and neither will I be risking what money I have left because I can’t afford to lose it! But there is a way to do this – and to do it in a way that avoids the mistakes of the past.
“I will describe this proposed publication shortly, but let’s focus for a minute on why I would be crazy enough to consider something like this, given the failure of the comic.
“In a nutshell, we had these problems:
- Overheads were too high because we were still pioneering the 3D art and it was a nightmare finding and training specialised artists
- We couldn’t afford to advertise (do you remember The Sun pulled our planned ads on the day before launch?)
- We were trying to please people of all ages (like our fan base in The Sun) rather than focus on our core readership of adults
- It was too Striker-specific. We tried introducing vintage strips like “Billy’s Boots”, which people liked, but there wasn’t enough variety
So what’s different now?
- For a start, overheads are far lower. We’re operating on a shoestring at the moment, and I’d like to change that, but staff costs would still be far cheaper because our 3D style is now more established
- We could advertise from the Striker strip in The Sun
- Adults would be our target audience.
“And here’s the really big deal… this would not be a Striker publication, but a publication with Striker in it.
“I have the title of the publication and I know the content, but I don’t want to reveal that until I know whether this is definitely going to happen. But essentially, each week there would be:
- Seven or eight pages of Striker – the same storyline as The Sun but more detailed. Plus the kind of character interviews and features we did in the comic, and match reports etc.
- Approximately six pages of a new weekly serial, created and written initially by me but drawn by a good 2D artist. Ultimately I would need to hire writers who could contribute to Striker as well as the new serials
- Around six pages of a serial based on a classic movie – in fact it would almost be like watching the movie in print. I would love to go into detail on this but I can’t yet. Suffice to say, I have created some mock-ups and they are amazing
- Two or three pages of my Psycops strip which ran in The Sun from 1994 to 1998 and has never been republished.
“I would also like to do a strip by another creator. This could be tricky to get past my built-in quality control because there’s a lot of crap out there, but I believe it can happen. There might also be a text serial that would be illustrated by three or four images each week.
“So how could this come about? That’s where crowdfunding comes in. I will go into much more detail on this after Christmas, but let me explain a few things first.
“By crowdfunding, I don’t mean just asking Strikerworld members to buy a weekly subscription – whether print or online – though I would dearly like them to! I am talking about extending this offer to the widest possible audience, which crowdfunding and social media marketing makes possible.
“Briefly, people will be invited to purchase one or more “rewards”, and the money raised (if we hit our target) will be used to fund the first three months of the publication. The most obvious of those rewards will be, say, £27 for a 12-week print subscription (delivered to your door every week) or perhaps £18 for a 12-week online subscription.
“In addition – or perhaps even instead of – people will be able to buy Striker merchandise that has so far been produced, either individual books or the set of four that have been published so far for a special price. There are even some T-shirts and Gillette Striker football shirts. Whatever we can sell, the money will fund the publication.
“To make this work, I would need a minimum of 1,600 people to pledge to buy a 12-week subscription, or other equivalent purchases of merchandise. That would provide just enough to cover costs for that period to ensure we could print a minimum of 12 issues.
“In addition to the subscriptions, the publication would be sold in newsagents (we have two distributors keen to handle this).
“If shop sales are strong enough (we only need to sell a few thousand) and enough people renew their subscriptions, the publication will continue beyond the 12 weeks.
“The beauty of all this is that nobody will part with any money up front. Instead they make pledges – and the crowdfunding trustees only accept the money if the target we have set has been reached or exceeded. If it falls short, no money is taken and the proposed publication will be consigned to the dream bin.
“This post is already way longer than I intended it to be but it’s hard to be brief with such a big concept. I hope I’ve managed to convey the gist of it though.
“My reason for revealing the plan now is to invite your views, be they positive or negative. I appreciate there is very little detail about the content but I would hope you would have an idea after 32 years of Striker of the kind of quality to expect.
“Before signing off, I will address a question that [forum co-ordinator] Mick Wall recently asked in relation to crowdfunding and merchandise. He said he would prefer to see Striker raise money by doing commercial tie-ins (like a big food or drinks company bringing out a Striker-themed product) than embark on a crowdfunding campaign.
“That’s a sound suggestion but I would say two things. Firstly, we tried that before with the comic when we did a tie-in with a company that brought out a Striker spirits range. We sold a few but not enough to get drunk on. Striker is big but it needs to be bigger to take advantage of licensing opportunities.
“And while merchandise can be a good earner on the side, the core product will always be the story-telling and the community spirit of the audience that builds up around it.
“Crowdfunding, if successful, will help to promote Striker while simultaneously raising revenue. It will enable us to reach out to people who may have heard of Striker but don’t read The Sun, or never saw it on YouTube. If people like what we’re doing and what we’re trying to achieve, they’ll get on board and enjoy the ride. If they don’t, the train won’t leave the station.
“So over to you guys. I’m really interested to hear your views, suggestions or questions, particularly from people who rarely post or who have never posted on Strikerworld before…”
• Strikerworld, featuring episodes of the strip online is at http://planetstriker.com
• Buy Striker collections from the Striker web shop, which is also selling mugs, too. Please note that orders received after 17th December 2017 may not arrive in time for Christmas
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.