The Irish publisher Lightning Strike Comics has promised and produced great things on a Phantom-front, but have they delivered?
Phantom phans from around the world are sharing their frustration that comics they have paid for not being delivered when promised. We at Chronicle Chamber are receiving word and complaints from places around the world, including Australia, Europe and North America.
Phantom phans by nature are patient. We are used to being given the rough end of the stick by major comic publishers with cancellations in the past from big publishers like Egmont, Dynamite, DC & Marvel. We have had to sit through our own version of ‘civil war’ with Dynamite Entertainment and Moonstone both getting the license at the same time which squeezed out the little guys (Moonstone), even though they remain to date the most successful and prolific Phantom publishing company in the USA, the origin country of the Phantom.
Lightning Strike Comics is an Irish publishing company. Ireland and the UK are not traditionally countries were the Phantom has been popular, with several publishers trying to establish a Phantom footprint over the last 80 years, with no real success. It takes courage to fund and publish a comic to a non-familiar main audience. So far to date they have published four comics: an 80th Special anthology, a one shot story, and two issues of their four-part series that is due to be published in 2019.
Chronicle Chamber has reviewed each comic and interviewed publisher Eoin McAuley. The reviews of the comics can be found here:
80th Special: X Band Podcast Episode #44
Issue #2: Written review
The problem is not the quality or their work. They have achieved success with a high number of quality Phantom creators in Alex Saviuk, Douglas Klauba, Jamie Johnson, Mike Collins, Mike Bullock & Andreas Eriksson, as well as introducing local Irish artists and writers new to the Phantom community.
The problem is that they just cannot deliver a comic to a phan. Phans are patient and understand risks with postage, but seven months or more with several failed promises for a comic is not acceptable. Are you a phan that has made an order and are still waiting for the comic to arrive? You're not the only one! We at Chronicle Chamber may have seen PDF versions of the books to review on our podcast, but do not have our own paid-for physical copies. You are not alone, the struggle and annoyance is real!
It is worth noting that Lightning Strike have promised full refunds of your order, but the problem is we just want a comic. Phans from around the world want to own, read and promote the comic; we are evangelistic in nature, we shout, we share on social media and are proud of what we own in our collections. However, it seems that you are more likely to make a sighting of Big Foot than receive your comic.
If the wait is too much for you, and you would like to explore the full refund option, please contact Lightning Strike directly at this email address.
Facebook is littered with comments from phans feeling frustrated with the process. Some have even wondered if anyone has received their comics and if they have even been printed? We have cast a wide call out and we can confirm that the comics exist. Copies were available at the New York Comic Con and the Norwegian Egmont wake. Some phans in Europe have received them and some phans have been sending the comics to various artists for signing.
So, they exist, but have they been posted? Good question! Some phans have received tracking numbers but even that does not help with Australia Post a lot of the time using different unique tracking numbers once they reach Australian shores. If you have a package that has been posted, ask Eoin for a tracking number. However, please note that a tracking number does not guarantee the comics will be received.
A month ago we posted a photo of one Australian phan receiving a package from Lightning Strike which included a few posters from their conventions. So we can also confirm that Ireland has not ceased their postal service to Australia.
To try and get a better understanding of what has happened we have asked Eoin some questions and include them below. Only time will tell if this helps us get the comics or not.
Chronicle Chamber: Eoin, we appreciate your time to answer some of our questions on behalf of some very frustrated phans. First up, we had some delays in receiving the 80th Anniversary Special and the Scarlet Sapphire comic here in Australia so why has it taken so long for the comics to be delivered again? Have they even been posted?
Eoin McAuley: Hi guys, thank you for taking the time.
First off delays with shipping are always regrettable as we want folks to read and enjoy our books as much as possible. All books are shipped within a week of ordering, but our orders have been hampered by several factors:
1) Poor communication between postal services has been a factor - as soon as orders arrive in Australia no more information is communicated to the Irish postal services. When I request more information on my end with them they direct me to fill out a form so that they can request the information from Australia, a process which is glaringly slow.
2) Our operation is very small with shipping requirements falling to one individual. When a customer has a problem it will be addressed but unfortunately there are also several other problems all equally important being addressed and vying for attention (no excuse being offered here just an offer of transparency of why it's taking so, so long).
3) In terms of the economics of it all I try to make our books as affordable and therefore as accessible as possible. To achieve this we offer standard shipping rates, but it is now becoming apparent that standard shipping is not sufficient and a more premium option needs to be offered. I wanted to avoid this, as although it may lead to the safer transport of books it will affect the appeal of single issue sales of the book to certain regions.
CC: The majority of phans understand a comic order can take up to a month or two but why has it taken up to seven months?
EM: Two factors contributed to this, one was the issue of reshipping and tracking damaged or lost packages and the second is a sliding and delayed production schedule.
CC: Have the comics simply been lost?
EM: Some stock has been labeled lost, what this means is that packaging was damaged in transit or an address was incorrect or not clear. I'm currently reviewing the packaging situation and upgrading to a higher quality packet. We try to bag and board our comics free of charge, but the exterior envelope does not seem to be robust enough to contain it.
I have received some feedback from customers who received their books but their packet was damaged in transit, I always invite feedback from customers to let me know what they think of our product and what condition it arrives in. These orders are being replaced free of charge as well.
CC: Have you had to reprint the comics to fulfill the reorders to replace the lost and damaged comics?
EM: We have indeed had to reprint a lot, but we always manage on a print-on-demand basis, so this isn't too detrimental to our process but is time consuming.
CC: We find it hard to understand how no one in Australia have their comics yet other phans around the world can get their copies. Can you explain that?
EM: This is a matter that I'm unclear on myself.
There is definitely something wrong that someone can order a copy later in another part of the world and receive it months in advance of someone in Australia. We have succeeded before in shipping our 80th Anniversary and Scarlet Sapphire books before to Australia so it should be a simple matter of retracing the same steps - but still someone who orders in Italy, for example, will likely get it quicker than Australia. It could be that it's easier to ship in the EU while in the EU.
The solution that I'm looking towards now is to ship outside of the postal service by other international corporate courier services.
CC: Can you understand how frustrated these phans are? What can be done to help alleviate their frustration?
EM: Absolutely, and the phans have every right to be so as well.
What we're currently offering and fulfilling for everyone who requests it is a full refund. So everyone can rest assured that option is available for them all. We are also happy to refund and still ship until the books arrive. I personally guarantee every book and still stand by that and accept full responsibility for the dissatisfaction of our customers who we greatly appreciate.
CC: We have also received word from phans that they did not receive their full order? For example, they ordered 10 and only received 5. Is this true?
EM: In this kind of scenario what would likely happen is that the packet used was not sufficient to contain one full order and it was split and sent across two packets with one mislaid due to human error, but that can be rectified by emailing us with their order number.
CC: Do you feel that the lack of the response from Lightning Strike has contributed to the fear from phans around the world?
EM: Absolutely this is a factor, although, I would see it as a slow response and not lack as I have been reaching out to all customers affected.
CC: Can you confirm which countries have received their comics?
EM: Brazil, Canada and US, Austria, France and Germany have faced some similar issues but are receiving their orders steadily now. India and Australia are proving to be problematic.
CC: Can you tell us when we are likely to see issues #3 and #4 of the 2019 series?
EM: Issues #3 and #4 are set for an August release which will coincide with Dublin Comic Con (DCC). We will have a complete set of 1-4 by then and very excited as we have several of the Phantom creators also in attendance.
CC: We thank you Eoin, for taking the time to answer some of our questions. Do you have anything left you want to say to the phans who are still waiting for their comics?
EM: Everyone is entitled to a full refund, simply email us with your order number and it will be issued. We are still happy to resend books following a refund as we appreciate that everyone wants to read and enjoy the stories.
Apologies for any slow responding via email, if email response's are too slow, you can also apply for a refund via PayPal protection as well.
All books are guaranteed, we greatly appreciate how patient everyone has been. We are happy to refund and resend so if you have any doubts at all (all very justifiable in the given situation) we will make sure that you are not at a loss. As mentioned previously, other countries are receiving their orders and we are working to resolve the issue with Australia and get these books out to you as soon as possible.
All that I can say now is thank you to everyone for their support and offer my sincerest apologies for all delays. The comic book industry is certainly a tough one, but with the support of phans around the world I'm happy to be a part of it.
If you are one of the unlucky phans who have not yet received the comics, please let us know. If you have received your comics, also let us know. We will continue to keep you phans up to date with anything new from Lightning Strike.
Again if you would like to explore the full refund option, please contact them directly at this email address.