Thursday, 14 May 2015

Happy birthday, Starlord, No, not that one. The other one.

Star Lord, IPC, Strontium Dog

Forget your Guardians of the Galaxy. Those of us who grew up in Blighty in the 1970s know there's only one Starlord - and that's the comic that was launched by IPC magazines almost exactly thirty seven years ago this week.

When I say, "almost exactly," the cover date was May the 13th, though, as so often happens with these things, I do believe it may have been in the shops before that.

I thought I only had two issues of it but a quick peruse of the Grand Comics Database tells me that I actually had three issues.

My memories of what was in them are fairly vague. Obviously, from the cover above, Strontium Dog was in it. I do believe Ro-Busters may also have been in it before both strips migrated to 2000 AD when Starlord folded after just twenty two issues.

Why did it fold, when 2000 AD was such a success?

I don't have a clue. Maybe the 12p price tag put people off. Maybe there was only room for one sci-fi mag in Britain at the time. Maybe it was something else altogether.

From what I can recall of it, it seemed more grown-up than 2000 AD and was printed on flatter, smoother paper. I seem to recall there being something in it about some explorers trapped on a world that had acid rain, and also some sort of strip about a brother and sister with psychic powers.

Then again, I may be remembering completely wrongly.

Regardless, this post contains the covers to the three issues that I had. Why Clint Eastwood's on one of them, I have no clue. I can't say Dirty Harry's ever struck me as being a sci-fi concept but what do I know? Clearly IPC thought otherwise, and they ran a successful comic company and I didn't, so they were probably right and I'm probably wrong.

I do love the way that issue manages to cram a reference to Clint Eastwood, The Spy Who Loved Me and Close Encounters of the Third Kind into one cover. You couldn't accuse them of not trying.

I'm indebted to Lew Stringer's blog for reminding me of this epoch-making birthday.

Star Lord, IPC

Star Lord, IPC


HannibalCat said...

I had and have all the issues, sans free gifts of course, and still love them. Timequake was my favourite story at the time, though Strontium Dog remains the most well known. A sadly truncated run for a fine 70's comic.

Anonymous said...

I believe the stories you're trying to recall were Mind Wars and Planet of the Damned, Steve.

That's an interesting question about why Starlord wasn't a success, since Strontium Dog and the Ro-Busters went on to be popular in 2000AD (and arguably, it was when the two titles merged that 2000AD really started to hit its stride - before that, only some of the Dredd stuff was really that good).

I think you're probably right about the price - the idea may have been to produce a better quality comic aimed at older readers, but frankly the stories, taken together, just weren't good enough to match the better reproduction. Same happened with Crisis a while later.

Nice one Steve - you going to do Tornado next?


Anonymous said...

I believe the stories you're trying to remember were Planet of the Damned and Mind Wars, Steve. Although I recall Planet... as being about people accidentally lost in the Bermuda Triangle (or something like that) rather than explorers as such.

Anyway, its an interesting question why Starlord wasn't a success, given that Strontium Dog and RoBusters went on to long, popular runs, and its fair to say that the merger of both titles was when 2000AD first really hit its stride.
I reckon you're right about the price - frankly the stories taken together just weren't good enough to match the better reproduction and justify those extra pennies. Not unlike Crisis a while later.

Nice one, Steve - you doing Tornado next?

Anonymous said...

Sorry, forgot to sign that last comment


Steve W. said...

It's weird. I have no memory at all of Tornado or of its merger with 2000 AD. Looking at the covers on the GCD, it looks like it was somewhat unfocused. It seemed to be a war comic, a football comic, a humour comic and a science fiction comic all rolled into one.

Anonymous said...

Well, Steve, that doesn't seem confused to me at all, its just a description of a British boys comic of the 70s, which were often a mix of genres.
But the times were against that kind of thing by 1980; and with the reversion to the standard cheap format (after the failure of Starlord) I think potential readers like yourself may have been put off by something that seemed intended for a younger age group...?


Anonymous said...

I bought the first three issues, no doubt encouraged by the free gifts, as a pre-teen. From memory the material wasn't likely to appeal to a much older audience and so the Clint Eastwood reference was probably lost. I suspect anyone old enough to have seen Dirty Harry or the sequels would have found these a bit tame. Looking at the run of covers, they seem very busy, without being particularly attractive.

Daren (DW)

John Pitt said...

Now THIS is the comic that the fledgling 2000 AD SHOULD have been! It wasn't until it absorbed this comic that it became the legend that it went on to become!
Incidentally, I have no recollection of Tornado, either!

John Jenkins said...

In case anyone's still interested, some geezer's posted scans of the whole run here -

I had all of them. Where they went, I have no idea. Strontium Dog was obviously the stand-out feature, even then. I was about 15 at the time and absolutely besotted with Ezquerra's art style.

Steve W. said...

Thanks for the link, John. It's nice to know they're still available out there.

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