On this day, 2 September 1978: Starlord
On this day, 2 September 1978 … The original plan for Starlord, as described by its sub-editor Steve MacManus in his forthcoming memoir, was to be a monthly, high-quality, science-fiction magazine aimed at an older readership than that of 2000AD (in part to cater for those 2000AD readers who might be outgrowing The Galaxy’s Greatest Comic) and to rival classy titles from abroad such as the American Omni and the French Metal Hurlant. It was a noble plan but one which never made it off the launch pad; instead, a decree from powers higher than both the Mighty Tharg and Starlord was issued to the effect that Starlord was to be a published on a weekly basis. ‘The editorial content had to be restructured to meet the demands of a weekly publishing schedule,’ remembers Steve, ‘and the changes left Starlord looking more like a stablemate of 2000AD than something that title’s readers could move on to as they grew older.’
On the evidence of this issue – the seventeenth of Starlord’s twenty-two-issue run – I would say that while it obviously never became a heavyweight magazine to sit alongside Omni or Metal Hurlant, it still achieved an admirable class and depth for a ‘kids’’ comic. The front boasts an early John Higgins painting – his only Starlord cover. Alan Hebden’s Mind Wars had run since issue two and was a telepath-based, galaxy-spanning space fable, to which Jesus Redondo’s sumptuous artwork brought a Euro-chic. Hebden also wrote alien zombie tale Holocaust, also with distinct artwork by Horacio Lalia – this week’s hospital-based instalment feels like an episode of The Walking Dead. Chris Lowder and Carlos Pino are on writer and artist duties for Ro-busters – a weaker episode of the serial which sees Hammerstein and Ro-Jaws on lunar-surface droid-duty.
For me, the most interesting aspect of this issue is the discovery of Brendan McCarthy providing the art for Strontium Dog – as far as I know, the only time he drew Johnny, as Carlos Ezquerra was always the regular artist and I believe Ian Gibson drew the remaining instalments of this particular story, ‘Demon Maker’, which also features Johnny’s sister (presumably the same sister we meet as a young girl in the later ‘Portrait of a Mutant’ epic in 2000AD).