“It’s all about trying to capture the spirit of Warrior rather than a slavish re-invention.” Steve Tanner discusses the inspirations for new anthology Brawler
Brawler is the new book from TimeBomb Comics’ Steve Tanner (creator of the fantastic Flintlock). It’s a collection of creator-owned genre stories that are looking to capture the energy and originality of classic 80s anthology Warrior. With the first issue now funding on Kickstarter we caught up with Steve to find out more.
Your new book Brawler is inspired by the classic Warrior anthology, why do you think the world needs a new anthology like that?
Steve Tanner: The idea was Jason Cobley’s. Back last October he posted on social media ruminating on how much he missed Warrior and that it was a shame there wasn’t anything like it around these days – I messaged him straight away saying “You’re right. Let’s do it.” So we did. There was a bit more back and forth from that point of course, both of us had similar but not exacting ideas so there was some alignment needed, but it was all about trying to capture that spirit of Warrior rather than any slavish re-invention.
What was it about the original Warrior that means people still look back on it so fondly?
ST: Warrior was a character driven anthology which was something very familiar to readers of British weekly comics, but also creator owned, which wasn’t. It was hugely influential, and brought some key comic creators to the attention of a wider audience. It didn’t last long, but while it did it burned brightly. Our Brawler cover design really pays homage to Warrior I think, but designer James Gray has very cleverly managed to come up with a layout that seems to trigger the memories of those that are familiar with Warrior without confusing those unaware of a title that hasn’t been published for almost forty years.
This first issue combines a fantastic mix of creators – some we know and some who are new to us – plus a fantastic cover by Staz Johnsson – how did you select your line up?
ST: Jason had a couple of names, I suggested a couple more, and then we asked them to pitch and considered each one. Tonally, we wanted great genre stories so we targeted writers we knew could deliver that, and artists who really understood sequential storytelling. A key part of the final selection process was to be sure that each of the ideas pitched had a strong central character concept – there’s no “lead” strip in Brawler. All of the stories could be, and all feature characters that can stand perfectly well on their own, in their own titles.
Brawler features a couple of familiar stories, such as Frankenstein Texas and Amnesia Agents, are these being serialised in Brawler and what was about this series that you wanted to include them?
ST: Again that’s a nod to the inspiration – as with the original Warrior we feature new stories about characters that have appeared elsewhere side-by-side with brand new creations. But it was also being aware that there was existing fanbase for the characters and their creators, and the tone and style of those concepts fitted Brawler perfectly. Frankenstein, Texas was one of my favourite comics of 2018 – so having a new Frankenstein story appear in our debut issue ticks a massive box for me. Also, it’s the only story that we knew would be kept in black and white because, well, David Hitchcock!
The first issue is funding now on Kickstarter, but how regularly is this going to be released?
ST: The first issue was always a test, really, to see if there’s an audience for Brawler. Clearly, given how well it’s doing on the Kickstarter, there is. I’ve a meeting scheduled with Jason Cobley at Portsmouth Comic Con (where Brawler #1 will make its debut) and theres only one item on the agenda: Brawler #2! What we’re not going o try and do is over-reach. We’re not going to be monthly, and even quarterly might be a stretch – but I’ve already shuffled the Time Bomb publishing schedule around to allow for some future Brawler releases.
This feels like quite a departure from your work on Flintlock, do you enjoy creating comics in different genres?
ST: Well, not too much of a departure for me creatively. My story in Brawler #1, Major Rakhana, introduces a female lead, and a historically steampunk genre – so I don’t think I’ve wandered too far off the path, there! The beauty of an anthology like Brawler though, is what the other creators bring to it, and that’s been terrific to be part of. Honestly, the concepts they’ve come up with – absolutely brilliant!
Speaking of Flintlock, will we be seeing a new volume of that this year? And also you recently completed the Clockwork Cavalier on Kickstarter, any plans to expand any more of your characters into stand alone series?
ST: I’ve just received the roughs for the next chapter of Lady Flintlock, actually, and they’re looking grand. Flintlock Book Four is due out later this year, it will contain some surprises for those who have been following the series so far, and the cover is just stunning. It’s by an artist who recently featured on the cover of 2000AD, so looking forward to revealing that once Brawler has landed. As for more spin-off books, hopefully they’ll appear in the future too. I know what I’d like to do – the challenge is fitting it all in!
You can back Brawler issue #1 on Kickstarter here. And to pick up a copy of Flintlock or one of Steve’s other fantastic titles then visit timebombcomics.com/shop. (Or keep an eye out for him at your local comic convention, you won’t miss him!)