It’s time to thrill once more to the heroes and anti-heroes of yesteryear in the SMASH! Special. Featuring seven all-new adventures of some of the greatest Brit superheroes of all time – including Steel Claw, The Spider, and House of Dolmann – this is one you really don’t want to miss!
Editor Keith Richardson is the man responsible for putting together the SMASH! Special and gathering a truly smashing group of comics talent that includes Charlie Higson & Charlie Adlard (Steel Claw), Rob Williams & John McCrea (The Spider), Suyi Davies Okungbowa & Anand Radhakrishnan (Mytek the Mighty), Simon Furman & Chris Weston (House of Dolmann), Tom Raney (Johnny Future), Maura McHugh & Andreas Butzbach (Thunderbolt), and Helen O’Hara & Valentina Pinti (Cursitor Doom).
Now… Time to sit down and talk SMASH! with Keith Richardson!
Hello Keith – As the man responsible for putting together the new SMASH! Special, what sort of things can we look forward to seeing?
KR: Prison breaks, zombie attacks, giant simian robots, alien invasions Royal cameos, weird Scottish customs and talking dolls!
So, what’s the story behind putting together this particular special and choosing the title?
KR: I wanted to dust off some of the great action/adventure characters (mainly from the 60s) who we didn’t initially buy following the first acquisition deal with Time Warner. The Spider, Mytek the Mighty and The Steel Claw are all fantastic strips with characters who more than deserve a new lease of life and we have had plenty of fans getting in touch and asking that we bring them back.
We went back and forth under which title to use – Smash! is the perfect fit for an action anthology so that’s the title that we used.
Many credit the titles of the ’70s for introducing strips which were anarchic and full of antiheroes, but the truth is that the likes of Lion and Valiant were doing this years before. The Spider is a villain, out for himself and his ego! He only helps the forces of good so that he can test his mettle against other criminal masterminds and prove that he is the best! And what a rogues’ gallery he has – Crime Genie and The Living Totem are truly inspired.
I particularly like the House of Dolmann as it is so bizarre and actually quite creepy. Here is this seemingly nice genius who wants to fight crime with his small, automated robots. All great fare for a kid’s comic. But through adult eyes…he projects personalities upon these automatons, using his talents for ventriloquism to give them all unique voices…they argue and fight all of the time when out on missions, sometimes almost jeopardising the outcome! And it is all Dolmann! The guy is completely out to lunch in those original stories!
With this SMASH! Special, as with the previous Specials you’ve put together, it’s a fascinating mix of new and established names?
KR: I always mix new and old names on all anthologies that I commission. It makes good sense to have some established creators because you know what to expect and you know that the quality is going to be there. But it is very important to always be on the lookout for new talent. It may not work out in every case, but when you find a DaNi, Henrik Sahlstrom or an Andreas Butzbach it makes it all worthwhile.
I ended up with Valentina’s portfolio after it was picked up at San Diego Comic Con. The line art on her sequential pages was really nice, but all of her pages were superhero-themed so I had to wait for the right project on which I could use her. Helen O’Hara is probably best know to most people as a freelance film review and co-host of the Empire Podcast. I love her reviews and excitement for the superhero genre, so I approached her to write the Thunderbolt strip.
I am over the moon with how Steel Claw turned out. It is everything I expected and more. The original strip was so off the wall, straddling different genres and constantly reinventing itself every new story arc. It always felt like a weird amalgamation of The Prisoner, The Invisible Man and James Bond, with a little dash of 50s B-movie sci-fi. Bearing all that in mind, who better to work on the script than Charlie Higson, the man who has written Young James Bond and loads of sketches for Vic Reeves and Bob Mortimer!
As for Charlie [Adlard] on art chores, I always wanted this strip to be B&W and I think Charlie’s B&W work is great. He is also terrific at drawing great fight scenes – see Code Flesh for proof of that!
And finally, where do you see things going with these heroes in the future?
KR: Obviously I would love to do more with these characters. I guess that we have to wait and see if this special does well, which in the current situation that the world finds itself in, is no mean feat. That being said, all of the stories here are complete, but open-ended, ripe for a continuation.