Kickstarting Comics: Time Bomb’s ‘Dick Turpin And The Vengeful Shade’ #1 Stands Up And Delivers

by Olly MacNamee

Time Bomb Comics is one of countless independent comic book publishers that are doing things for themselves here in the UK, and in recent years publisher and writer Steve Tanner has been forging away at the creation of his own shared universe over in his successful Flintlock comic book anthology series. It just happens that in this case his shared universes is set in 18th century England. The time of ‘Mad’ King George, Napoleon Bonaparte and the legendary highwayman, Dick Turpin.
Dick Turpin is a staple of any young UK school kid and even had a popular prime-time show here back in the 80s. It was a no-brainer, then, that Tanner would eventually turn his sights onto this historical legend who’s own true life has become more myth than fact, with Time Bomb Comics adding to this with it’s latest volume, Dick Turpin and the Vengeful Spirit, currently up on Kickstarter here.

Alongside the rather rough-and-ready Dick Turpin of this comic book is the more gentlemanly Tom King (no, not that one), a fellow highwayman of the time. Tanner has then teaming up to rob from the rich and… well, take it for themselves. These aren’t the nicest of people, no matter how much spin we’ve had on these two vagabonds over the years. And, it’s to Tanner’s credit that Turpin and King never quite come off as heroes, even if the people they are upholding are worse. Indeed, while the ending is a good bit of fun – especially after all the horrific going-ons they witness across the night of their entrapment – we cannot forget that these two only have one goal in mind  in a great ending that will have you smiling.
Interestingly, I don’t think I’ve ever come across a take on Dick Turpin quite like this one, mixing real-life scoundrels with a tale of the supernatural, but it works extremely well. After all, this was the era in which gothic literature first rose from its grave, and the vengeful spirit of the title is an apt inclusion in this tense, rural horror, Something us Brits excel at.

Turpin and King’s plans go astray almost immediately and they find themselves, along with their intended victims, having to seek shelter from a suitably melancholy and moody storm at a nearby country house. You know, the type that are always haunted. Or, at least, that’s what we tell you visiting Americans whenever you venture over here to check out our history, in lieu of you not having much of one yourselves.
Having taken up sanctuary from the storm, the landed gentry and these two rogues of the road soon find that things only get worse as the spirit of the house makes itself known. A spirit with a vile and gory sideline in tormenting these folk trapped in the house with this phantom from another era. And, of course, a gruesome backstory to explain why he still wanders the corridors of this once proud country abode.

Even a glance at the accompanying art should show you what a professional publication this will be with long-time Time Comics’ artist, Roland Bird, producing such remarkably energetic and emotive artwork. But then, he was blessed with a mentor in legendary inker and all round nice guy, Mark Farmer, who has certainly left a mark on his protégé. Add to this the appropriately mirky colors of Brett Burbridge, who helps sustain the gothic tone fo this tale, and you have a riveting period horror that has the feel of a classic British horror production, akin to the likes of 1968’s The Witchfinder General. It’s certainly a title that stands up and delivers.
Dick Turpin And The Vengeful Shade #1 is still up and running on Kickstarter, so you can still back it if you’re a fan of classic British horror or just good comics.

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