Wednesday, January 03, 2007

The spin-offs

Last year when I began my hopefully eternal quest to re-read all my 2000ADs (and scan in the best panels), I didn't begin a the beginning, because that would be no fun. Instead, I began with Starlord (Star Lord?). I'd read a bunch of these years ago, but this time I made the effort to get through the bloody lot. Only 22 comics, but they proved to be quite slow reading, as I find many older comics are.

Anyway, I was quite excited about writing at length about the short-lived sister magazine to 2000 AD. But then Redeye magazine published a rather splendid article all about it, so it felt redundant.

But, I'm going to have a go anyway. And then I'll take on Tornado. And then Crisis. A bit of Revolver. (By a bit, I mean 'Dare', since I've never actually seen an issue of Revolver itself). How about some 'Deadline'? I always thought that was a sister to 2000 AD, being as it featured the work of 2000 AD creators - and wasn't it founded by then-stalwarts Steve Dillon and Brett Ewins? But it's not listed on the 2000 AD main site, so I guess it has no other connection. Hey ho, I might give that a go, too. And then of course there's Toxic!, which I recently picked up a short run of. Weird. Hey, I might even get onto the fanzines like Dogbreath, Zarjaz and Futurequake, which all seem to improve with every issue (not that I've read the early ones).

Judge Dredd the Megazine, is, of course, no mere sister title to the galaxy's greatest. It's a fine organ in it's own right. I've also found it to be vital reading continuity-wise.

And with that, we can segue back into the main event:

Keen-eyed readers will have noticed that I've already posted a number of Starlord scans, not least in the brief discussion of Johnny Alpha, who debuted in issue 1. He, along with Ro-Busters and Timequake made it into 2000 AD. The early stories of all three strips are inessential, but they are fun. Before we dive into all that critic analysis business, let's get some basics out of the way. StarLord launched in 1978 about a year after 2000 AD. Looking at the dates, at the same time as Prog 64, which perhaps coincidentally sported one of the worst covers ever, perhaps to urge readers to look elsewhere on the shelves of their local newsagent.

Starlord had some pretty exciting covers (except for the final issue) - this one is I think my favourite:

I mean, who wouldn't want to play a SCI-FI GAME, especially if it involved a warping chessboard and Strontium Dogs (which of course it didn't). Besides these delights, Starlord was more expensive, but had more pages, better quality paper, and several colour spreads. And after issue 3, it only had dates, not issue numbers, which sucks. According to the Redeye article and Bish-Op's almighty 'Thrill Power Overload' (can't wait for the book next month), as filtered through my fuddled memory of the two, StarLord was the superior comic, and 2000 AD was slated to merge into it. For whatever reason, it happened the other way around. Frankly, the strips in 2000 AD were just plain better, so it makes sense to me.

Of course, I say this having read the 2000 AD stuff of the time about 14 years ago (when I was 14), and the Starlord stuff last year (when I was 27), so perhaps I'm being unfair. But I think it's fair to say that Starlord the character is a little straight compared to Tharg, and this somehow reflects in the tone of the magazine, even if the strips themselves are pretty classic 2000 AD-style stuff.

Before I go any further, I must stop to share this awesome letter, which I think reflects that attitude, and also opens a lovely window onto the world of the comics reader in Britain's comics heyday.


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