Striker first appeared as a daily comic strip in The Sun, Britain’s biggest-selling newspaper, on November 11, 1985 and is owned by its creator Pete Nash, a former Fleet Street journalist.
The strip has followed the adventures of its hero Nick Jarvis from his debut as a 20-year-old footballer to his present day role as the billionaire owner of fictitious football club Warbury Warriors.
Striker is unusual for a comic in that it is followed by a predominately adult male audience, with nearly 40 per cent in the 18-36 age group. Another feature that sets it apart from other strips is that its characters age in real time.
From its raw beginnings a hand-drawn, black-and-white comic strip, its style of artwork changed noticeably over the years until, in 1998, Striker became the first comic strip in the world to be created entirely in 3D animation software. This was done with the intention of laying the foundations for a transition to full animation at a later stage and enabling multiple artists to work on it without changing its style.
The new realistic look of Striker in conjunction with its core football theme also made it commercially viable to attract corporate sponsorship - and in 2001 Richard Branson’s Virgin Mobile became Striker’s first sponsor, paying to have its brand on the Warbury kits seen in the strip and on the printed strip in The Sun. Virgin Mobile described it as one of their most successful sponsorships ever and renewed their option to extend for a second year. Other sponsors have included Talksport and Gillette.
From late 2003 to mid-2005, Striker was published as an independent weekly comic, helped by the support of fans who raised nearly £200,000.
In 2013 Striker’s increasing popularity was reflected by The Sun increasing both its size in the paper to nearly half a page and its frequency from six to seven days a week.
Pete Nash’s right hand man is 3D animator and modeller Simon Ravenhill, who has worked for Striker since 1999. He and Pete now produce both the printed strip in The Sun and the motion comics between them, with Pete starting and finishing the process and Simon creating the 3D assets and final renders.
In 2015 Pete began discussions with several gaming companies with a view to developing the football action in Striker from still images to full animation. As of August, 2017, a demo version has been developed but the final process of delivering the game to audiences is still in the pipeline.
In 2016 Striker launched its own Planet Striker YouTube channel and showed a complete storyline in a daily motion comic version.
Christmas, 2016, saw the release of the first book of Striker: The Complete Collection – a 300-page A4 hardback featuring all the black-and-white Striker stories from 1985 to 1990. Volume 2 (1990-1994) was released in late May, and Volume 3 has a release date of September, 2017. It is anticipated the collection will eventually comprise at least 15 books.
Further plans under consideration for 2017 include a crowdfunding campaign, which would be aimed at raising funds to develop Striker into new areas, including animation, online comics and merchandising.