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Starblazer

Starblazer

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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.

Issues were 281, the first published in April 1979, and the last published on 1 January 1991. The front cover was printed in colour while the back page featured an ongoing subject that was relevant to the space programme. This included pictures of astronauts and brief details of the missions they were on, other subjects were satellites and the planets and planetoids of the solar system. Issues 1 - 3 were issued with monthly periodicity. From issue 4, there were two issues a month; this periodicity continued until the series reached its end 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 later style of Starblazer cover from Issue 200, which had a wrap around effect. Also showing an emphasis on Fantasy storylines, this was the first appearance of the Kingdom of Anglerre.

Prior to the new format, there had been several issues that had been classed as interactive fiction, with the title Starblazer - Space (or Fantasy) roleplaying game in pictures similar in idea to the then popular Fighting Fantasy and Lone Wolf gamebooks, but this idea was quietly dropped after a few issues when it proved unpopular.

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.

In May 2007 Cubicle 7 Entertainment announced that they were producing a licensed Starblazer role-playing game using the FATE 3.0 system. The game was released by Cubicle 7 in August 2008, at Gen Con Indianapolis, followed by a hard-cover edition in June 2009. In July 2009 it was nominated for three Ennies.

An exhibition was held in Dundee in 2009 to mark the 30th anniversary of the title and attracted comics creators like Alan Grant and Warren Ellis.

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