Still Fighting Fit
Tripwire’s contributing writer Tim Hayes takes a look at Time Bomb Comics‘ Brawler#2…
Time Bomb Comics
Comics are indestructible, with small-press creators managing to stay in business even as a pandemic piles on the pressure, and now higher profile mainstream anthologies enjoying something of a boom. Crowd-funding plays a part in this, spreading the financial risk while gauging the size of an audience, and nostalgia for UK anthologies of the past can be a big factor on top; but the core of all this work is comics and their publishers finding ways to keep working and reach a public. The77, now up to issue 4, aims to recreate the atmosphere of the early days of 2000AD, while Pat Mills, having been there for those early days in person, is publishing Spacewarp to see what a comic with 2000AD‘s original goals would look like today. Shift, planned as a 90-page publication every five weeks, is a sci-fi anthology paying creators royalties as sales rise and is about to publish issue 3.
Brawler, from Time Bomb Comics and now reaching its second issue after launching in 2019, is modelled on Dez Skinn’s old Warrior comics and slots into a position in the centre of this field. Its eight short strips (plus a text story inspired by the issue’s splendid David Millgate cover) are a mix of new creations and characters already seen elsewhere, plus one translation of a story previously published in Europe, and the goal is slick fantasy entertainment in self-contained slices. Some evergreen genres are well represented: Wolfheart is straight historical adventure, a sword-for-hire and his partner ambushed by bandits while en route to Rome, from Ferg Handley and James Devlin, while The Killing Stroke is a more fantastical period piece by Gary Crutchley and Matt Soffe involving a samurai on a rescue mission. Karl Kämpe The Adventurer brings Jörgen Karlsson’s 18th Century monster hunter into English, with a translation of a story first published in Sweden and drawn by Hakan Aydin.
Some series from Brawler #1 are back for a second round, including Space Banshee Exorcist by Katie Cunningham and drawn this time by Danielle Weber, with characters from Irish folklore making their way in the cosmos a long way from old Earth; Major Rakhana, the steampunk interplanetary explorer whose colonial explorations usually involve heavy firepower by Steve Tanner and Pete Woods; and Keiko Panda, Jason Cobley and Andrew Richmond’s cartoon ursine samurai who speaks in haiku. Other strips arrive in Brawler after a life elsewhere, like Cobley and James Gray’s Amnesia Agents, a dynamic duo dealing in history and memory with maybe one eye on the fine tradition of Sapphire & Steel, and who had their own black & white graphic novel in 2018. John Short and Gabrielle Noble, two frequent collaborators on comics featuring Octobriana among many others, bring their Helga Frankenstein character into Brawler from her own one-shot, the visually striking composite woman fighting vampires in a haunted Europe. Like the other strips here, it’s fun entertainment and proof of the new ecosystem at work, comics finding different routes to their readers while an anthology sector grows.
Brawler#2 is out now from Time Bomb Comics and GetMyComics