Historical comics aren’t something I dabble in very often, but after reading the first two chapters of Flintlock when they were serialised in ComicScene magazine, I was pretty much hooked by this beautiful looking and compelling series.
Written by Steve Tanner, the actual issues that go under the Flintlock banner also contain other stories based in the 17th or 18th century, but half of each is given over, and rightly so, to the titular strip.
Flintlock is the story of a highwaywoman (although all the victims assume she is male) who seems to rob coaches simply because she bloody loves it. Aided by her maid confidant, Lady Sarah Flintlock is a wanted figure, and the story concerns those trying to bring her in, as well as her own exploits.
One of the main selling points in the first three issues of how well Tanner’s free flowing script goes with artist Anthony Summey’s clear linework. It’s bold, clear art that rewards a deeper look, with fantastic use of shadows and fine historical detail. I think I can safely say that I’m a fan, and the fact that it’s also written so well makes Flintlock one of the best historical strip I’ve read. In part four, art furies are surrendered to Garth Sleightholme (of Spacewarp fame) and I have zero quarrels with his work here, I just miss Summey like a long lost lover (sniff).
Elsewhere, the supporting stories all have their own strengths, with the three part “Shanti: The Pirate Queen” shining in particular. As with Flintlock, it treads familiar territory (PIRATES!) but Tanner takes things his own way to craft an entertaining read. Another intriguing story concerns “The Clockwork Cavalier”, who is basically a clockwork/robot law enforcer in 18th century London. Although a premise for much silliness if in the wrong hands (mine, probably), it’s a deadly serious tale that grips the reader and left me wondering where the hell he came from, perhaps a question to be answered in the future. The other main strip is “Molly and The Trickster Thief”, where two 18th Century ladies dress up as men and get into scrapes. Only two episodes in (both self contained) it’s a great strip.
Also of note is the one off (so far) “Sparrowhawk”, with the novel setting of Australia in 1795. Peg Sparrowhawk is a rough spoken woman who is brought in to solve a murder, and is also an immediately likeable character. It seems Tanner really does like to write female lead characters, as every story features them, and rather than annoying or “woke” it’s refreshing and entertaining. None of the characters are over sexualised, they just happen to be women. Okay, the Clockwork Cavalier isn’t a woman but I’d be surprised if Tanner hadn’t considered it.
In conclusion, I’d highly recommend Flintlock 1-4 to anyone who simply enjoys good stories well told. You won’t get confused, you won’t be faced with shoddy art, and you WILL be educated, as each issue also contains short essays on some of the historical facts and stories at the end, each of which are a nice addition to the issue in hand. Great covers, too, including a proper banger from Ian Kennedy.
Volume 5 is now active on Kickstarter (target SMASHED already), and you can add all or any of the previous issues onto your pledge, so it’s the perfect time to jump on board. Hopefully I’ll be able to review number 5 on here soon so keep your eyes peeled.
Or issues can be bought from Time Bomb comics (as well as lots of other nice things).