We’re almost at the end of the first 12 weekly Striker comics – and the team behind the project are back on Kickstarter to raise funds for issues 13 to 24. This time around, they’re chasing a target of £45,000 – and with seven days to go, they’ve already raised close to £25,000.
So far, nearly 3000 fans have enjoyed each digital or print issue of the football-themed comic every week, with its gripping mix of hard drama and wild comedy. Subscriptions have increased from 1000 to nearly 2000 since the last Kickstarter, and publisher Pete Nash has revealed the title sells some 1300 copies a week in newsagents – despite distribution problems early into its initial run.
Pete’s aware this crowdfunder is going to be tough ask of Striker fans, “because it’s nearly Christmas and we’ve only got two weeks,” he notes in the latest issue of the comic, “but if all of you make a pledge, we can keep the comic going and get cracking on some fantastic new developments.”
Striker first appeared in November, 1985, as a black-and white, three-panel comic strip in The Sun, Britain’s biggest-selling newspaper. In 1998, it became the first comic strip in the world to be created in 3D animation software and now occupies a third of a page in the paper, seven days a week.
The only character from the very first story who still features is the hero Nick Jarvis, who started as a young footballer and is now the CEO of British club Warbury Warriors. He’s married to the club’s beautiful billionaire owner, Li Ming.
Every 32-page issue leads with 13 pages of the main serialised comic strip – often taking place more off the football field than on, and taking readers on a wild and often very funny ride, with Pete’s gift for comedy blending perfectly with mobster intrigue and other storylines.
Also on offer is “Warbury Warriors“, a three-page strip written by Joe McArdle, Steve Duffy and Pete, beautifully drawn by drawn by Luis Guaragna, focusing on young academy players, with some shady developments going on right now as a couple of dodgy doctors test new drugs out of injured team members.
Plus , there’s the back story of “Eric and Vanessa”, a text story by Pete illustrated by Richard Ortiz, focusing on Striker’s original manager and his wife, which is utterly bonkers but great fun. Poor old Eric never has it easy in this – even on honeymoon!
Striker is available worldwide in a weekly digital format that can be downloaded or read online, or you can have printed copies delivered to your door every week.
The back story of the lead strip is pretty involved, picking up the threads of storylines developed over several years in The Sun, but every issue of Striker offers a decent recap of recent events to keep readers up to date and if it’s action adventure you’re after, not just a football comic, then Striker is everything you might want. For me, a comic reader who’s not a regular football fan, I simply enjoy Pete’s plain speaking in his editorials, which have revealed a lot about the trials and tribulations of publishing any kind of magazine to the news stand today, never mind a great comic.
For a pledge of £30, if this crowdfunder is successful that will get you all 12 of the next round of issues, in print and as a digital download. And, if you’re a but more flush, and would like to feature in the Striker strip itself, that’ll cost you a pledge of £90.
The project isn’t just about the comic, of course. The football action in Striker is shown free every week as animated highlights on Striker’s official website – planetstriker.com – and Striker’s Planet Striker channel on YouTube.
After watching the games, fans can catch up with all the results, match reports, features, stats and league tables in the following week’s comic.
All this is thanks to part of the strip’s storyline involving the ambitious Striker World League. Warbury fell out with the Football Association and FIFA last year and formed a breakaway world football league, made up of an initial 12 teams that has now grown to 16. But the football authorities declared that anyone and any club joining it will be banned from officially-sanctioned football for life.
The other World League teams are: Shamrockers (Ireland), Brecknock Dragons (Wales), Highland Terriers (Scotland), Prague Pulsars (Czech Republic), Spartiates (Greece), Bucharest Vampires (Romania), Lagos Gold Stars (Nigeria) Kampala Kickers (Uganda), Mombasa Mambas (Kenya), Sun City Tigers (India), Hong Kong Heat, Darwin Crocceroos (Australia), Lima Incas (Peru), Acapulco Aztecs (Mexico) and St Louis United (United States).
If the World League survives a current money-laundering scandal, it will expand to 20 teams next season and will ultimately have multiple divisions.
The Striker team’s ambition is to develop the animation and create an online social game in which fans become members of a World League club – and have a say in the running of it.
Members will be able to have online debates and then vote in decisive polls to influence activities like team selections and tactics, the hiring and firing of managers, and the buying and selling of players. Decisions they make will be reflected positively or negatively in their team’s odds for upcoming fixtures.
Striker is now one of the longest-running newspaper strips in British comics history, outlasting many others – and it’s the last new adventure strip to be published in a national title on a regular basis (“Garth” in the Mirror, for example, is reprint).
The Striker comic is one I’ve long supported and I hope you will, too.