A Brief History of Starlord

Unfortunately, a particularly violent episode of Inferno, featuring an attempted barbequing of a leading character, and various other mindless slayings and injuries, slipped out under the editorial radar whilst Bob Bartholomew was otherwise engaged. When Bartholomew finally saw the pages, the bigwigs at IPC were furious, threatening 2000AD with immediate closure. Ultimately, it cost Landau his job as Editor, and he was sidelined onto Battle. Sanders dragged Steve MacManus off of his Sub-Editor's position on Starlord to take charge of 2000AD in the interim, with the aim of merging the two titles under Gosnell.

Starlord was due to survive the merger as the lead title, but its sales were in more rapid decline, so 2000AD got the upper hand. Even now, there are those that insist Starlord was selling more copies than 2000AD, and would have survived on its own, whilst others say that 2000AD had lesser sales, but was the more identifiable brand, which is why it absorbed Starlord. The cold facts show that both comics were in sharp sales decline, but Starlord was on a bigger downward curve, and was also the most expensive to produce. The hatch, match and dispatch policy normally resulted in a cumulative circulation increase of around sixty percent for the merged title. In the end, economics won the day, and Starlord was axed after just twenty-two issues.

Company policy dictated that at least half of the cancelled title would transfer to the merged title. 2000AD reaped huge benefits by gaining Starlord’s two best strips. Strontium Dog and Ro-Busters bolstered the 2000AD roster, allowing it to drop some turkeys it was running, such as Ant Wars. With a return for the popular Robo-Hunter promised in the near future, 2000AD and Starlord gained in sales and looked assured. MacManus took over as editor when Gosnell was taken off the title to supervise IPC’s next project, Heroes, now more familiar to readers as the next short lived title, Tornado, a disaster area, more at home in the fifties than the late seventies. For all its bluster, Victor Drago was simply Sexton Blake, renamed after failure to secure the copyright. Wagner’s Walk offered a sequel of sorts to Action’s Hellman of Hammer Force, but the strips all lacked something. Tornado’s twenty-two issue run sounded the death knell for Starlord, as once again 2000AD absorbed the defunct title. The Starlord name was dropped after Prog 126. Starlord managed to push out three annuals of decreasing quality between 1979 and 1981 before falling off the map altogether.

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