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Sancho2

Sancho #2, cover art by Alan Nolan

Sancho is a comic series published by 20,000 Leagues. Created by Alan Nolan and Ian Whelan, Sancho, aka José Maria García, is a Mexican paranormal adventurer and former Roman Catholic priest. As a member of a secret Vatican exorcist squad called Victory, he travels the world battling demons, zombies, vampires and possessed naked ladies (Sancho's particular favourite ;)), along with Tom Frost, his six-inch sidekick.

Sancho began life as Pancho, an unfinished strip by Nolan intended for an unpublished fanzine in the mid-90s. Nolan drew another Pancho strip, intended as a submission sample for publishers, in the early 2000s. Then, in 2003, he attended the Bristol Comics Expo and was inspired by a small press panel to start self-publishing. He and co-writer Ian Whelan (who made the decision to change the name to Sancho, as Pancho was "a fat guy's name") reworked the sample strip into a full-length story, "Sancho's Last Case", in which the elderly Sancho, now a hermit in Mexico, investigates the desecration of the corpse of his late friend Father Donatello Cagliore, which turns out to be connected to incidents he investigated in his younger days, told in flashback, including the one where he met his elemental sprite friend Tom Frost. The story ends with Sancho's self-sacrificial death. Sancho #1 was published in December 2004.

Sancho #2, "Vampires of Dublin", published in 2005, took an anthology format. It included two stories of Sancho's younger days: "The Vampire's Midwife", in which Sancho and Tom Frost investigate the disappearance of the body of Bram Stoker in Dublin in 1986, by Nolan and Whelan; and "The Drowned Village", in which Sancho and Tom defeat a demon who has flooded a village in Japan, by Nolan (this strip was later published in the small press section of the Judge Dredd Megazine #245 in January 2007). The rest of the stories have a vampiric theme, including Nolan's "Carmilla Devereaux", "Bloodied Streets" by Garvan Giltinan and Ceri Pashley, "The Early House" by Derek O'Connor and Nolan, and "The Beast and the Boy" by Whelan and Adam Kee.

The third issue, "Return of the King", was published in November 2006. It retained the anthology format, but this time all the stories were about Sancho, contained within a framing sequence by Nolan and Whelan. "Resurrections and Revelatons", by Giltinan and Nolan, tells how Sancho quit the church after foiling an attempt to resurrect the depraved 11th century Pope Benedict IX in 1978 - an event that led to the death of Pope John Paul I. In "Far From Home", by Nolan and Charlie Gillespie, Sancho investigates the appearance of a World War II German U-Boat in the Australian outback. "Sins of the Father", by Nolan and Whelan, is a tale of Sancho's tragic childhood. "82 Comeback Special", by Nolan, Whelan and Davy Francis, involves zombie rock stars. Finally, in "The Return of the King", Nolan and Whelan bring Sancho back to life, his youth restored, ready for further adventures.

Issue 4, "Carnivale of Curiosities", was published in 2008, with a cover by Declan Shalvey. "Big Trouble with Little People", by Nolan and Whelan, brings Sancho back to Ireland to investigate the disappearance of a group of American tourists. "Zom-Blogger", by Nolan, tells of a stag night in New York at a burlesque club with a difference. In "Out and About in Dublin", by Ed Berridge and Bryan Coyle, Sancho tracks battles a wannabe-vampire and two undead cockney gangsters in Dublin. "Mary Bateman's Hen", by Pádraig Ó Méalóid and Nolan, is the story of a 19th century Yorkshire witch. "A Meeting of Minds", a prose story by Giltinan, has a Dublin occult investigator encounter Sancho while investigating the case of a dead priest.

Issue 5 was published in 2008, and featured five stories. "In Excess", by Michael Carroll and Nolan, sees Sancho investigate a series of mysterious deaths across decades. In "Riverboat Falls", by Whelan and Cian Tormey, Sancho hunts a family of zombies. "Toby Monster", by Whelan and Francis, is a parody murder mystery. Nolan's "Tales from the Hood" is a superhero story told in vox pops (which also appeared in the benefit anthology Sorry I can't take your call right now but I'm off saving the world). "Another Beginning", by Danielle Lavigne and Nolan, is about history repeating itself. The issue also features an inside cover illustration by Archie Templar.

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