Sunday, August 26, 2007

Starblazer Memories by Tony O'Donnell

* Please give a big Bear Alley welcome to Tony O'Donnell, long-time pal and a damn fine comics' artist. Tony sent this over in the wake of my recent (and totally self-indulgent) 'Starblazer Memories' columns. This is turning into a bit of a series...


I still remember buying the fist issue... what excited me was the thought that actually getting to work on Starblazer seemed infinitely more possible than, say, breaking into 2000AD or even 'American Comics', this was still the 1970s and Barry Smith was still the only Brit to have achieved that feat.

Then I learned that Grant Morrison was both writing and drawing Algol the Terrible for Starblazer - and getting £500 for his efforts! This was REAL money... we were on £10 a page with Near Myths, OK it was less than £10 a page on Starblazer but they only wanted two to three pics per page.

I sent samples off to IPC and DCT (Starblazer) in March 1979, I got a very nice reply from Doug Church. I will always remember how good it felt to read that letter, even though it is now lost: "of all the samples recently submitted to our office, yours were among the best."

He advised me that it would be best to broaden my range of samples as they were all SF and suggested I find a good Agent, recommending the Temple Art Agency.

Then all that was forgotten... Starblazer sent me a trial script!

Looking back, my first attempt at a Starblazer was a disaster. My infatuation with Gil Kane's Starhawks style competed with the ever present influence of Frank Bellamy and John Buscema and my inability to draw! I remember phoning the office -- the presumption! -- I was told that I was not ready yet but the spaceships were good! I was sent £10 for use of Letratone... my first cheque from a Publisher. I did not think of The SF Bookshop in Edinburgh, the publisher of Near Myths as a Publisher at that time.

It was another four years before I got to draw my first Starblazer - SPACE GHOST.

I enjoyed working on Starblazer and I regret now how often I avoided the opportunities to draw more of them...but the 'grass was always greener elsewhere' or so I believed at the time. My other regret is that my lack of confidence in my own work led to my using far too many 'embarassing ' swipes...although I can recall a Starblazer that vitually recycled the previously mentioned Starhawks strip by Gil Kane.

(* All Starblazer artwork is © D. C. Thomson. Typically, I can't find copies of Tony's earlier, more science fictional Starblazers, so these pics come from later issues: the cover is issue 197 which has interior art by Segura; the alchemist is Melthas from no. 192, 'The Face of Evil'; and the sabre-toothed beast is from no. 226, 'Prince of Fear'. Ray Aspden has kindly supplied an image from no. 152, 'DoomWorld', one of the ill-fated [and some might say ill-conceived] role-playing Starblazers. Ray adds, "I hasten to add that I'm not a raving egoist -- it was D. C. Thomson who came up with the space trooper's name! I'd originally called him Stig, as can be seen in picture 79 when Bill McLoughlin missed a bit of his sub-editing.")

1 comment:

  1. Interesting article. Wonder if there'd be a market for Starblazer books now? Be cool if they were as thick as a paperback book. Longer stories or anthologies? Or half new, half reprint?

    Any chance of an article about Commandos poorer cousin, Sabre Library?



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