The latest issue of Ron Turner’s Space Ace (Volume 7) is out now, featuring three wonderfully retconned stories by the late comics artist (and writer) perhaps best known for his work on “The Daleks” strip for TV Century 21, but whose career encompassed many comics projects and a huge body of memorable illustration work.
Edited by Ron’s longtime agent and friend John Lawrence, published in colour, restored and updated by Doctor Who and Hellblazer artist John Ridgway, we’re treated to three fine stories centring on hero Space Ace, thrown into mystery and adventure while keeping Earth and the solar system (and indeed, in one story, time itself) safe from alien menace.
As noted in previous reviews of this nostalgic publication, don’t expect to find a realistic vision of the solar system in these SF romps. Like “Dan Dare” in Eagle, this 1950s strip emulated the SF novels and magazines of the time, envisioning a solar system populated by all manner of intelligent alien life, a lot of it pretty unfriendly to humankind. (And, given the amount of alien life shot or blown up by Space Ace, that’s hardly surprising).
But do expect a glorious sense of adventure and breathless enthusiasm for the subject matter as Space Ace races back in time to beat a Martian invasion (“The Time Transmitter”), saves a careless expedition from a hungry dinosaur-like Garg (“Trouble on Titan”, Ron’s second-ever Space Ace serial) and saves an entire civilisation from destruction (“Slaves of the Zirkons”, first published in Lone Star Magazine for January – June 1955), despite being threatened with his own death – and being made to wear incredible brain enhancing headgear that look like glorified ladies salon hair dryers!
Throughout, Ron’s art captures the imagination with imaginative visuals and storytelling, brought up to date by John Ridgway’s careful and complementary colour work.
I recently discussed the work John’s done on Space Ace with one of the downthetubes team and the editor of several classic comic collections, which prompted some heated debate about “ret-conning” of comic art and how far a modern editor should go in the restoration of material. I’m aware that for some, opinion is divided on whether strips such as this should be coloured at all, let alone updated further to present them to a modern audience.
Personally, as someone who isn’t old enough (no. really) to remember these tales the first time around, reading them for the first time, I’m firmly in favour of the work both Johns have done on these strips, which serve not only to show Ron’s work in good light but also maximise the potential appeal of this retro strip to a modern audience.
Obviously, I don’t know for sure but given the interviews with Ron Turner that have featured in this magazine, my gut instinct is to suggest that the artist himself would have welcomed the work – and done it himself, were he still with us.
Ron Turner’s Space Ace is a fun, action packed retro romp, the stories still inspirational (as, perhaps, “The Time Transmitter” was to the makers of the film Timecop, such is the similarity of concept and even some dialogue). Leave your science head at the door and step back to the future for a thoroughly enjoyable collection of great SF yarns.
The issue also features another short interview with Ron Turner about his creative process on Space Ace and John Lawrence also reveals he’s working on a Dalek strip, “Deadline to Doomsday”, started by Ron but never completed in 1998. The strip will hopefully appear in the fan magazine Vworp! Vworp! Issue Three with art by Lee Sullivan. The issue will include an interview with Ron about his time working on “The Daleks” for TV Century 21, plus examples of some of his previously unpublished Dalek artwork.
• Ron Turner’s Space Ace Issue 7 costs is £8.95 UK, £12.50 for Europe and £14.50 for international orders. Copies may be obtained via PayPal (please use friends and family option) at: email@example.com. Otherwise cheques (UK funds only) payable to: John Lawrence, to 39 Carterweys, Dunstable, Bedfordshire, LU5 4RB
• Also on downthetubes: Our review of Space Ace Volume One | Volume Two | Volume Three | Volume Four | Volume Five | A “Sneak Peek” of Space Ace Volume Six | Review of Space Ace Volume Seven | Volume Eight | Volume Nine | Volume 10 | Volume 11 | Volume 12 | Ron Turner’s Beyond
All images © The Ron Turner Estate