Starblazer: Forgotten Fantasy Fiction In Pictures

Starblazer – Space Fiction Adventure in Pictures was a British small-format comics anthology in black and white published by D. C. Thomson & Co. Ltd.

The comic book magazine was launched in response to the popularity of science fiction in the 1970s at the cinema and on television. A science fiction comic had first been considered by Ian Chisholm and Jack Smith, editors at DC Thomson, in 1976. A decision was made to launch the comic in September 1978. Smith was the first editor. His successors in the role were Bill Graham and Bill McLoughlin.

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Starblazer reached 281 issues, running from April 1979, to 1 January 1991. The front cover was printed in colour while the back page featured an ongoing subject that was relevant to space. This included pictures of astronauts, brief details of the missions they were on, artificial satellites and the planets and planetoids of the solar system. The first three issues were published monthly, changing to two issues a month from issue four until the last issue in 1991.

Partway through its run, from issue 168 onwards, the anthology changed format. Instead of a single front cover and a black and white subject on the back, a new all-colour ‘wrap around’ cover was instituted, most of the time showing a collage of subjects from that issue’s storyline. The subject matters also appeared to have a more adult emphasis and there was a heavier focus on fantasy storylines. The cover title also changed format slightly to Starblazer – Fantasy Fiction in Pictures; despite the title change, there were still a considerable number of science fiction storylines up till the final issue.

The Starblazer issues suffered from poor distribution, being rare in parts of Scotland and almost unknown in the rest of the United Kingdom. Due to a downturn in the general comic market, many newsagents never stocked them, or later would only take subscriptions. This contrasts sharply with the Commando comics from the same publisher that have enjoyed countrywide widespread distribution since their origin in the 1960s. Also, a slump in the science fiction genre affected the sales.

British comics creators to have worked on Starblazer include Grant Morrison, Walter Cyril Henry Reed, John Smith, Mike Chinn, Mike McMahon, Colin MacNeil, Cam Kennedy, John Radford and John Ridgway. There were also a number of European and South American artists who did other work in British comics, such as Enrique Alcatena. Also Mike Knowles. Before the comic was launched he was one of a group of writers selected by D. C. Thomson to come up with stories for the comic.

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