Independent comics publisher Hibernia Comics, which recently released a collection of Sergeant Strong, from weekly title Valiant, as part of its Fleetway Files archive series, is working on a deep dive into the creation of the short-lived but influential publication, Starlord.
The weekly SF comic Starlord made its debut on British comic newsstands this weekend 45 years ago, a title that was the original home of characters such as Strontium Dog and Ro-Busters, and series such as “Planet of the Damned”. Both series transitioned to 2000AD when the two titles merged after just 22 issues, Starlord in part victim to Fleetway’s “Hatch, Match and Dispatch” policy of merging two titles, the lower-selling publication utilised to boost the sales of the other; and also a victim to production costs of the title as inflation soared, its glossy format more expensive than 2000AD’s newsprint.
As we noted last year, in a feature exploring the title’s early demise, sadly Starlord never became the adult SF comic as originally conceived, a British rival to Heavy Metal and similar titles, plans for the title stymied by management decisions that impacted the original plan for it to be a monthly, not weekly title.
Now, Hibernia Comics, who have published some fantastic Comic Archive projects delving into the creation of various British comics in the past, have teased they are working on a new project exploring the origins of Starlord.
“45 years ago the best British comics ever, in my opinion, published hit the newsagent shelves,” noted Hibernia publisher David McDonald this weekend.
“Starlord was edited by Kelvin Gosnell, who modelled it on European comics. He told me ‘I wanted it to be like the European titles like Eppo. These were standalone mags; not getting regular mergers; producing many albums every year as collections of the year’s stories, And not doing the rather sad badly thrown together reprints.’
“We had intended on having a Comic Archive celebrating Starlord’s 45th ready, but a secret project blew our schedule way off,”David continued, hinting at even more treats to come from this specialist publisher, which publishes its Fleetway Files of reprint titles under licence from copyright owners Rebellion.
“We have gathered together a lot of material for it and and have the input from Kelvin, Kevin O’Neill, Carlos Pino, etc etc, including gems like Kevin’s original design for Ro-Jaws.”
A publication date for the Starlord Comic Archive has yet to be decided, the independent but small publisher focused at present on its Fleetway Files series.
“We might get a chance to get to it later in the year, time will tell,” David hopes. As do we!
Sergeant Strong, the fourth release in The Fleetway Files, collecting hidden gems from the Fleetway and IPC archives, is available now. Written by Scott Goodall MBE (The Indestructible Man, Marney the Fox) and drawn by British comic powerhouse Eric Bradbury (Doomlord, Invasion 1984!), Sergeant Strong collects the complete amazing adventures of Britain’s first man in space.
As we previously reported, Rebellion have marked the 45th anniversary of Starlord’s debut with the release of a range of new T-shirts, pint glasses, and mugs available from the Rebellion online store, designed by Salvador Lavado.
• The new range of Strontium Dog merchandise is available now from the Rebellion online store at shop.rebellion.com
• Sergeant Strong | 88 Pages | Perfect bound | B&W | Only available here
• Planet of the Damned and Death Planet
Beyond the Bermuda Triangle lies a world so hostile to human beings that those stranded there know it as “The Planet Of the Damned!” – the basis of a story first told in the pages of Starlord.
When a Tri-Star jet crashes on this treacherous world, the survivors find themselves being relentlessly attacked by all forms native flora and fauna, including the monstrous Ab-humans. Fortunately they are discovered by Flint – another human resident stranded on this world long ago. With their axe-wielding guide in taking charge, some of the survivors may just find a way to return home alive!
In Death Planet, first published in 2000AD, it’s the 23rd century and the starship Eternity sets out from Earth carrying a cargo of colonists bound for new lives on distant worlds. When the ship is knocked off course, crashing on an unknown alien planet, Commander Lorna Varn and colonist leader Richard Cory must set aside their differences and work together to keep everyone alive.
• Check out Strontium Dog Search and Destroy: The Starlord Years on AmazonUK (Affiliate Link)
There was a time in the 22nd century where man s lawless spread out amongst the stars across new frontiers. Enter the Search and Destroy Agents mutants warped from birth by Strontium 90 fallout from the last, great war.
Known by the norms as Strontium Dogs , these men and women enact justice throughout a cruel and unforgiving universe. It s a hard and dangerous life where only the toughest can survive. Men like Johnny Alpha a mutant with the ability to emit powerful Alpha-Rays from his eyes!
• Check out Ro-Busters collections on AmazonUK (Affiliate Link)
• Ro-Busters: The Nuts and Bolts Volume One
2000AD brings you the first volume of the Ro-Busters, featuring the restored orginal coloured pages. Marvel at the adventures of Ro-Jaws, Hammerstein, Mr. Ten Percent, Chatterbox and Mek-Quake as they take on the toughest jobs in the universe – and plan the liberation of robot slaves! From the creative team behind the original ABC Warriors these stories are written by comics legend Pat Mills (Slaine) and featuring the art of some of the biggest names in the industry, including Dave Gibbons (Watchmen), Kevin O’Neill (The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen) and Mike McMahon (Slaine), this massive dose of Thrill-power is a must-have for all comics fans.
• Ro-Busters: The Nuts and Bolts Volume Two
The robots are in revolt! The boss of Ro-Busters Howard Quartz also known as Mr. Ten Per Cent (90% of him is robotic), has seen his stocks plummet due to his involvement in the attempted demolition of Northpool. In order to stop from going bankrupt, Quartz plans to destroy a number of his robots in a staged accident, including Hammerstein & Ro-Jaws! Having gotten wind of Quartz’s plan, the duo seek out the robot underground, who organise the safe evacuation of unwanted robots to a distant moon.
Before long, it’s man versus machine in a battle for freedom! This action-packed finale to the Ro-Busters strip includes star-studded backup stories from Alan Moore, Steve Dillon and Bryan Talbot.
Further Reading on downthetubes…
• downthetubes: This Week in 1978: Starlord heads back to the stars
• Starlord’s “Planet of the Damned” – Background news item
• Blimey! It’s Another Blog About Comics – Lew Stringer looks back at Starlord No. 1
• Great News For All Readers: Starlord – The Original Plan
• Great News For All Readers: Starlord No. 22
• Starlord 19 Cover Art by Graham Coton
• Nostalgic For My Childhood – Starlord comic at 40 by Mark West, published in 2018
• Sergeant Strong | 88 Pages | Perfect bound | B&W | Only available here
While on a mission to the dark side of the moon, a brush with a “roving nebula” changes Strong forever. This close encounter leaves him unable to remain an astronaut, but with a new set of peculiar abilities: abilities that bring him to the attention of Inspector Zero and Ghost Squad!
Sergeant Strong exemplifies the fast-paced, ultra-compressed style of British adventure comics of the 1970s, and it’s a rip-roaring adventure that mixes sci-fi with shadowy secret agents, and straight action with an undercurrent of the bizarre.
Starlord and 2000AD copyright Rebellion Publishing Ltd
Categories: 2000AD, British Comics, Comics, Creating Comics, downthetubes Comics News, downthetubes News