Comic Strip / Striker
is a comic strip that has appeared in The Sun
newspaper, Nuts magazine, and its own comic
. It was created by Pete Nash.
Initially, the story focused on Nick Jarvis, who played as a striker for Thamesford Football Club. After several years, he was headhunted by Eric Openshaw, the owner of Warbury Warriors, which Nick joined as player-manager. His playing career was ended when his leg was bitten by a shark
. He remained as manager for some time, but the name of the strip didn't become an Artifact Title
, as by now the focus was on the whole team and not just Nick. Eventually Eric sold the club to Chinese investors. The new chairwoman was Li Ming, with Eric being kept on as Chief Executive. She fell in love with Nick, and they almost married. But he called it off, prompting her to deliberately run down the club, which she had by now inherited outright after her father died. The club was bought by an Arab investor called Sheik Mustapha Futti Kalub
and Eric and Nick were sacked. This ended the story for a few years, but then it came back, with Li Ming having decided to buy back the club, in order to get back together with Nick. This time they did end up married, only for her to get murdered by agents working for her brother, who was on death row back in China. This resulted in Nick inheriting the club. However, the Chinese weren't happy about the money he had also inherited, and froze his bank accounts. As a result, the club missed a payment on a TV station Nick had recently purchased, and the club ended up in administration. That got them a 30 point penalty for the start of the 2015-16 season. The Chinese lost the court case only for Eric and Nick to both get arrested after the guardian of one of the players told the press that he'd been bribed to say he was his guardian in order to allow his immigration.
- Anyone Can Die: Tended to happen a little more in the strip's early years, when main character deaths were somewhat rare, but certainly did happen. It's lessened since the move to using 3D graphics due to the time and expense that would be required in constantly making new character models, with the only deaths of long-term characters since then being goalkeeper Teflon Davis in 2002, and Warbury owner Li Ming Wong in 2014 (the latter of which ended up being undone three years later).
- Art Evolution: Was originally hand drawn, but nowadays is rendered in 3D using a computer.
- The Bus Came Back: Eddie Carlton, the second owner of Thamesford seen in the strip and one of the earlier villains in the story, returned after an absence of three decades in 2017, after Warbury's joining the World Football League led to him reappearing as owner of Mexican club Acapulco Aztecs.
- Canon Immigrant: Joe Rock, a character from The Premier, the strip which replaced Striker in The Sun from 2003 to 2005, was incorporated into the strip at the newspapers' behest.
- Cartwright Curse: Nick Jarvis's love interests have a habit of dying, or else leaving after having something horrible happen to them.
- Catchphrase: A few characters have them. For example, Eric often says "Muddy Mildred!".
- Character Development:
- Nick Jarvis started out as a young and enthusiastic player, then became a more mature and focused player-manager (and later just a manager), before turning into a fairly jaded and cynical club owner.
- Vanessa Openshaw was a Rich Bitch who slept with half the male population of Warbury for the decade or so after she was introduced, but Took a Level in Kindness after becoming pregnant and giving birth to her son Todd. Granted, she did lie to Eric about Todd's parentage (Nick being his actual father), but that was out of a desire to avoid hurting his feelings as much as anything else.
- Eric Openshaw began his time in the strip as a fairly wily, if occasionally clownish, business tycoon. After a couple of years this reversed itself, leading to him becoming more of a clumsy buffoon who nonetheless has moments of Crouching Moron, Hidden Badass.
- Corrupt Corporate Executive:
- More than a few of these have popped up at Thamesford and Warbury over the years. The former club had Eddie Carlton and later Rodney Crampton, who both tried to run the club into the ground to line their own pockets and tried to bump off Nick when he became inconvenient. The latter club had Charles Bullion-Browne and Jeremy Grubbett, who bought the club from Eric in 2002 and actually did succeed in getting it shut down for a while, only to have to sell it back to Eric when he derailed their scheme with a little Loophole Abuse.
- Subverted by one-time Warbury chief executive Boris Anokov, who despite actually being a Russian gangster who had come to the UK on a faked passport in order to escape assassins from a rival gang, did act within the law while working at the club itself, keeping his criminal activities separate, and only embezzling the club in order to escape when it became clear that the assassins had picked up his trail (and even then only to the extent that it just put them under a mild budget crunch until Li Ming bought them later that year).
- Eric Openshaw is a low-grade version of this himself, usually having the club's best interests at heart, but quite willing to bend the rules in order to make a quick buck for himself.
- Expy: When it left The Sun for the first time, they replaced it with another football comic strip called The Premier, which recycled some old storylines.
- Genius Ditz: While Scrapper Griswell can quite often come across as an idiot, he is very knowledgeable about football-related matters, as evidenced by his spotting a mistake in the FA's coaching examination papers.
- Nice Job Fixing It, Villain!: After being kicked out of the club, disgrunted former Warbury player Ricky Cronan burned down the club's original stadium... thereby trigging a big enough insurance payout to solve Eric's financial problems and build a new stadium, while also voiding a bet that Eric had placed with a business rival, which would have forced him to hand over the club for nothing in the event of them not being promoted to the Premier League the following year (which they weren't).
- Older and Wiser: In a villainous twist on this trope, Eddie Carlton after he returned to the strip in 2017. During his initial stint in the strip, he tended to resort to threatening people and even having them beaten up if they got in his way. By the time of his reappearance, he had come to favour Pragmatic Villainy.
- Punny Name: Happens sometimes. Warbury was for a while owned by Sheikh Mustapha Futti Kalub. Get it? Must have a footy club!
- The Rival: In the strip's early years, fellow striker Gary Lewis was this to Nick, to the point of trying to frame him for underage sex in the strip's debut storyline simply because he felt threatened by Nick. It only ended when Gary was Put on a Bus to Hell in the strip's third major storyline, though he did appear again for two more storylines.
- Wham Episode: Usually tends to happen once every year or two. The first major one was only the strip's third major storyline, "Lewis the Louse," which saw the death of initial Thamesford chairman Alec McCabe, and Nick's rival, Gary Lewis be sent to prison.
- What Happened to the Mouse?: Groucho Mendoza, one of the longer-lasting players in the Warbury era and one of the few players who didn't vanish during the 2010-2013 hiatus, suddenly disappeared around early 2015 with no explanation. While one can imagine that either Dave Boreham made good on his threat to get rid of him, or he was forced to retire for some reason, what happened to him has never been addressed.