Irish publisher Lightning Strike Comic Books are about to launch their third foray into the Phantom universe, and they're going bigger and better than ever.
Lightning Strike are best known to Phantom phans for the two oneshot Phantom books they have released: 2016's 80th Anniversary special Tales of the Ghost Who Walks, and the standalone story Scarlet Sapphire, published in 2017.
Now co-publisher Eoin McAulley is proud to announce that in 2018, they will be taking it to the next level. In the latest episode of X-Band - The Phantom Podcast, Eoin explained:
"In 2016 the 80th Anniversary special, people would've read never before seen authors and artists, which is very much in the DNA of Lightning Strike as an Indi publisher. In 2017 we published Scarlet Sapphire which is the most professional product that we've ever made, and that is where we set the standard for ourselves going forward. We've really ramped up a level. In 2018, we'll be producing a mini-series, which we hope will launch us into an on-going series ... every year. A quarterly on-going series."
This means that in 2018, the little Irish publisher will release four issues of The Phantom; the license from King Features Syndicate allows for Ireland and UK distribution of four 24 page issues in the twelve month period.
Eoin explained that current plans involve each issue featuring a 22 page main story, with a two page vignette to be added at the end of each issue. These short narratives are likely to be created in a non-traditional Phantom style, and will be produced by new, unpublished artists and writers - much like those gathered in the Tales of the Ghost Who Walks anthology. The Lightning Strike team are currently throwing all sorts of ideas around in this space, including perhaps a surprising offer to an Australian creative team.
Eoin confirmed that the main stories would be new stories, and perhaps even connecting stories. While Lightning Strike's history would lend them to be standalone, self-contained stories, there is a train of thought that they should also be challenging themselves to begin world-building their own Phantom interpretation. The goal is to make their Phantomverse close enough to be interpreted into phans' own canons, but also able to be regarded as separate.
Some elements will be familiar, but others less so. There are no plans to feature the twins (Kit and Heloise) in their stories, for instance. Diana, meanwhile, will be a Senator rather than the more familiar UN Human Rights officer. Diana in particular was given a really strong interpretation in Scarlet Sapphire, which Eoin tells us "will feature more and more in future issues".
It seems that there will be some sort of spine or connection between stories, but they will also easily be able to be read as standalones.
So far as creative teams go, Eoin is thrilled with who they have begun to assemble. "We have approached Alex Saviuk to illustrate one of the 4 issues, which has been written by David Williams [also editor on the series]. We're really excited to have Alex on board. Mike Collins [Moonstone] is really interested, and may be collaborating with a Scandinavian colleague."
One potential cover artist is Oisin Roche, who has done some other Lightning Strike covers in the past. He excels in oil paintings, as you can see from the link - his work is stunning. Eoin has talked to Oisin about creating covers that would be similar to those produced by Gold Key through the mid-1960's.
With the first two stories planned out, the team is looking to kick off production as soon as possible, and probably are well on the way by the time you are reading this. They are aiming to have the books on shelves well and truly by August and the Dublin Comic Con: "We would love to have at least one if not two issues available at the Con." Because they are using different creative teams for the first two books, they are able to have both of them in production simultaneously.
"We could have a preview booklet available by March, and a production schedule locked in. We should be [releasing a book] approximately every three months, give or take teething issues given this is the first time Lightning Strike have ever committed to a mini-series like this."
To further complement their efforts, Lightning Strike are also developing plans to distribute Frew's own Kid Phantom to the Irish and UK audience, alternating release of the popular children's comic and their own quarterly mini-series. Eoin has placed an order of "enough to carry over and stock shelves and be present at shows ... and see what traction we can get with it."
While some phans may just be excited about the prospect about four new Phantom comics coming out in 2018, the true significance of this announcement might be lost on some, but certainly not on Eoin: "This is going to be, to my knowledge, the first ever on-going licensed comic book superhero comic produced here in Ireland, [as opposed to] Indi, creator owned comics. It's going to be a watershed moment for the community and the industry here."
More information will be dropping through Lightning Strike social media accounts, sharing progress, behind the scenes information, and images. you can keep tabs on all their progress through their Facebook page here, or their website here.
For the full story of this exciting announcement in Eoin's own words, make sure you plug in the headphones and listen to Episode 90 of X-Band!