Splank! returns, seeks contributions for NHS charity fundraising edition

Splank! Issue One Mock Up Cover Visual

Following hot on the heels of the announcement of their plans for 1900, an anthology of science fiction as seen from the 1870s, Belfast-based Sector 13 Comics have released details of a second anthology project – one designed to donate a proportion of profits to an NHS Staff Charity, and they are seeking contributions.

Submissions are now sought for the second issue of Splank!, a comic anthology harking back to the humour comics of the 1960s and 70s, but with a twenty-first century perspective.

Editor Peter Duncan, who’s bankrolling its production costs, says he’s hoping to capture the spirit of the revolutionary Power Comics line that developed from Leo Baxendale’s, “Super-Beano”, Wham!, in the early 1960s, which cemented his own fascination with comics.

The first issue of Splank!, released in 2020, mixed strips from incredibly talented professional cartoonists, including Mike Higgs, the creator of “The Cloak” for the Power Comics titles Pow! and Smash!, and Nigel Parkinson, current “Dennis” artist for BEANO, with new up and coming talents like Cat Byrne and Andrew Pawley.

Peter intends to follow a similar model for the second outing.

Splank! Issue One, cover by Marc Jackson
Splank! Issue One Mock Up Visual

Splank! 2 will be bigger and better”, Peter enthuses, “and will feature the same mix of material from seasoned professionals and talented newcomers.

“I already have some strips to hand, but I’m looking for more and if I get enough, we might even go for a hardback book this time round.”

“Spookytown” from the first issue of Splank! Script by Glenn Matchett, art by Dave Windett
“Spookytown” from the first issue of Splank! Script by Glenn Matchett, art by Dave Windett

So what kind of material is he looking for?

“Generally, I’m after self-contained humour strips, up to five pages,” he outlines, “but with a preference for the traditional one or two-page episodes. For these shorter stories, we will be able to use multiple episodes.”

“Writers, I’m looking for humour scripts, as surreal and wacky as you like. Aimed at adults, but suitable for kids – we’re not trying to emulate VIZ – but there is virtually no subject that is out of bounds.

“For example,” he continues, “I’ve already got an excellent set of strips about the early days of the Dada art movement, with another in discussion about early modern music – but they’re still funny!

Full-page, one panel gag-strips are also wanted.

The first ‘proper’ episode of “When The Bell Rings” from The Beano No. 604. Issues 602 and 603 had teasers in them, sharing the page with “Minnie the Minx”.
Inspiring Splank! – the work of the legendary Leo Baxendale

“I always loved Leo Baxendale’s panoramic pages in ‘The Bash Street Kids’, and other strips, where he would feature the school sports day or a street party,” Peter notes. “Anything with lots of tiny sight gags for the reader to search out.”

Peter says that there will also be room for one or two, short, text stories or articles. Parodies of the sort of tales and features that used to appear in the annuals or yore.

He has artists already lined up, some of them waiting patiently for scripts, but there is still room for more.

“I also need a very limited number of spot illustrations, but mainly I’m looking for artists to work on strips, both black and white and colour,” he tells us, “and, while preference may be given styles that are recognisable as referring back to classic British comics, I am open to any style of art or storytelling

Splank! Illustration - Hugo Ball
Splank! Illustration - Radio Guy

The intention is to publish Splank! in the second half of 2022 as an A4 size title, with a mixture of black and white and colour pages. The deadline for completion of strips is set at 31st June, but is subject to change and the team would like to have as much material ready before that as possible.

Although this is intended to be a project to raise money for the NHS, contributors will be paid a modest page-rate on completion of their strip, to be funded by the editor and “sponsors” of individual stories. Special page rates may be negotiated with professionals, as the editor has a few heroes he’d like to see represented and those who make their living from comics have enough challenges these days!

Printing costs will be subsidised and payments to creators met in full by the editor and from “donations” from a sponsorship scheme, which will see Peter using rare items from his extensive collection as “thank you gifts” for sponsors.

All profits from an initial Kickstarter will be donated to an NHS Staff charity – the creators’ payments will not be taken into account when calculating profits.

“Twice during the pandemic, I found myself in hospital needing the services of NHS staff,” says Peter says of the project as a whole. “On both occasions, and on another where a close family member suffered from a very serious acute condition, the staff were magnificent.

“Working under unbelievable pressure, they remained cheerful and professional on the surface, but the pressure they were under was truly terrible.

Splank! is not just a labour of love for me, it’s an excuse to do something I really enjoy,” he emphasises, “and if things go well, to give back a little to people who I will always be grateful to and admire.”

Anything raised from copies sold after the Kickstarter will be used to fund the next Splank! project.

• Anyone interested in being involved with Splank! as writer, artist or sponsor of a strip should e-mail the editor, Peter Duncan at admin@sector13comics.co.uk. Pitches and scripts are welcome as are samples from artists or enquires from sponsors

More about Splank! online

• There are still a handful of copies of the first issue of Splank! available which may be useful to potential contributors to have a look through. £7, inc. UK p&p. PayPal, to Sector13@boxofrainmag.co.uk (family and friends option please – which means you need to type your address details into the comments section)

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