Publication Dates: 13th May 1978 – October 7th 1978
Number of Issues Published: 22 (#13th May 1978 – #October 7th 1978)
Color: Color Cover; Mostly Black & White Interior
Paper Stock: Newsprint
Starlord was a short-lived weekly British science fiction comic published by IPC in 1978 as a sister title to 2000 AD, which had been launched the previous year in anticipation of a science fiction boom surrounding Star Wars.
Starlord was planned as a fortnightly title for older readers, with longer stories and higher production values than 2000 AD and the rest of the IPC boys’ comics stable, but this proved too ambitious. Episodes were shortened, the number of colour pages was reduced, although the better quality paper and printing were retained, and Starlord was published weekly at a higher cover price than 2000 AD.
– Strontium Dog, a series about a mutant bounty hunter created by writer John Wagner and artist Carlos Ezquerra.
– Ro-Busters, a robot disaster squad created by writer Pat Mills and artist Kevin O’Neill, although it was more usually drawn by Carlos Pino or Dave Gibbons.
– Mind Wars, a series about two psychic teenagers in the middle of a galactic war, written by Alan Hebden and drawn by Jesus Redondo (concluded in #22, but briefly returned for a sequel in the 1981 Starlord Annual)
– Timequake, featuring a tramp steamer skipper reluctantly recruited into Time Control, an agency which fought to prevent anyone tampering with time.
– Planet of the Damned, a passenger jet vanishes in the Bermuda Triangle and the passengers find themselves on a hostile alien world. Written by Pat Mills (as RE Wright).
– Holocaust, Carl Hunter, a private detective, discovers a government cover-up of an alien invasion. Written by Alan Hebden.
As well as 22 regular issues there were also three Annuals dated 1980–1982 (though each published at the end of the previous year) and one Summer Special.
IPC found that publishing two weekly science fiction titles split the market, and Starlord, with its higher cover price, was cancelled after 22 issues and merged with 2000 AD in “prog” (issue) 86 of that title. Its last issue was dated 7 October 1978. Starlord was actually the better selling of the two titles, the decision to end it being dictated by the higher production costs of Starlord as opposed to 2000 AD’s cheap newsprint format. 2000 AD’s line-up was strengthened by the merger: Strontium Dog became one of its most popular and long-running series; and Ro-Busters continued on in 2000 AD for a while and led to an enduring spin-off, ABC Warriors, which still features today. Timequake also briefly featured.
Starlord was edited by Kelvin Gosnell, who was also editor of 2000 AD, although he mostly concentrated on Starlord and left 2000 AD to assistant editor Nick Landau. After Starlord merged with 2000 AD, Gosnell became editor of new comic Tornado.
Like 2000 AD, Tornado and Scream!, Starlord had a fictional editor, a bouffant-haired superhero also called Starlord, and each issue was supposed to be a primer for survival in the galaxy. When the title was cancelled and merged with 2000 AD, Starlord announced that his mission on Earth had been successfully completed and he was off to battle the evil Interstellar Federation on other worlds, though he urged his readers to “keep watching the skies” (his catchphrase). When a 2000 AD reader asked after Starlord’s whereabouts in a 1999 issue though, 2000 AD editor ‘Tharg’ claimed that “While Starlord has not been sighted on Earth since 1979, rumours that he was seen in a McDonalds in Basingstoke cannot be entirely discounted”. On another occasion, it was claimed that he was “out in the Rakkalian Cluster, singing lead soprano with an Alvin Stardust tribute band”.
Annual 1980-1982, Guide to the galaxy, Summer Special 1978