Blazing A New Trail
Blazer! is a brand new British anthology which just kicked off and here’s former 2000AD editor Steve McManus talking about its genesis…
Blazer! began as the working title for a new comic being developed by Goodenough Publications in my novel The SheerGlam Conspiracy.
The novel charts a circulation war between two rival comics publishing companies in 1970s London. To establish an outright dominance in the market, one of the companies hires two scriptwriters to create a new title, which is codenamed GNP 13.
Having introduced the notion of a new comic, I felt it my duty to the reader to describe what strips would be in this fictitious title, supposedly being readied for launch in the spring of 1974.
Before I knew it, I found myself scripting the first episodes of each strip. And I felt quite pleased with myself when it occurred to me to include the scripts as an epilogue in The SheerGlam Conspiracy.
And that was that, until some months after publication when I received a phone call from Ben Cullis of The77 Publications. I learned that The77 was to be a picture strip publication inspired by the comics of the 1970s.
I was delighted by Ben’s proposal that the Blazer! scripts be drawn and lettered for bi-monthly publication in The77. And so it was that The Tinkling Triangles and The Collector were published, drawn respectively by Kiwi newcomer Brendon Wright and industry titan, the super talented Charlie Gillespie.
In his role as editor, Ben suggested the remaining strips be published in a title of their own, naturally called Blazer! Ben set to work pairing artists with the scripts, and at some point he asked me to devise a new strip to fill the 32-page pagination he was working to. This led to me asking Peter Western if he would like to collaborate with me on Domenica’s Ring, and it was an absolute privilege for me when Peter readily agreed.
BLAZER! GIMME THE FACTS!
Blazer! is a 32-page, indie anthology comic in the style of the British newsstand weeklies of the 1970s such as Battle Picture Weekly, Action, 2000 AD and Starlord. In one sense, it is more a reflection of Lion comic or Valiant comic in that its strips cover a variety of genres rather than being specifically about war, sport or science fiction.
Following a successful Kickstarter, which raised £8,866 from four hundred and one backers. Blazer! will be published in April, priced £4.95, under the auspices of The77 Publications. A second issue has been green-lit for publication in the autumn.
The group editor is Ben Cullis, ably assisted by the designer and sub-editor Andrew Richmond. Dan Cornwell, Colin Maxwell, Peter Western, Filippo Roncone, Andrew Richmond and Ian Baker draw the strips. Scripts are by Steve MacManus. Dominika Brodowska appears as sub-editor Dom Tom and the photographs of her are by Peter Western. Blazer! Is published by The77 Publications Ltd. Distributed by Comic Toolbox Ltd and The77 Publications.
GODWIN’S LAW: DRAWN BY DAN CORNWELL
Fire-and-brimstone fan the flames of an unlikely resistance in the foetid jungles of Burma during WW2.
DERRINGER & S0’N: DRAWN BY COLIN MAXWELL
Ace pilot Jack Derringer served his country in ‘Nam – now he serves himself, guarding America’s super rich.
DOMENICA’S RING: DRAWN BY PETER WESTERN
Italian starlet Domenica Totti discovers the ring she was given as a child has developed lethal powers.
THE BOOT ROOM BOY: DRAWN BY FILIPPO RONCONE
Murderous goings on at Barchester United jeopardise wee Kenny Fortrose’s fervent dreams of soccer stardom.
THE SHERIFFS OF NOTTINGHAM: DRAWN BY ANDREW RICHMOND
Tetchy cop Tod Steiger finds himself patrolling Nottingham’s mean streets — deprived of his beloved Smith & Wesson!
GIMME THE FICTION: THE DISCOVERY OF BLAZER!
One evening, whilst attending the 2019 Singapore Comic Con, a member of The77 publishing team got lost on the way back to her hotel. Feeling a little worse for wear, she strayed into the Singapore docks area, where she passed the night inside what appeared to be a disused warehouse. Waking the next day, in the chilly interior, she found she had covered herself in what she took to be discarded newspapers. As her eyes became accustomed to the morning light, she realised her bedding was in fact copies of a British comic. On further inspection, the warehouse proved to be packed with shrink-wrapped bundles of the title, each one in pristine condition. It was only then that the amazing truth slowly began to dawn on the hung-over fan. She had stumbled upon the Holy Grail of the British comics collecting community, namely the first issue of Blazer!, whose 90,000 copy print run had inexplicably vanished shortly after being loaded into a distributor’s lorry some forty-five years earlier.
The story behind the mysterious disappearance of Blazer!’s first issue will be revealed in The SheerGlam Succession, the second volume in Steve MacManus’ intended SheerGlam trilogy.
Available to buy from here: https://the77comic.bigcartel.com/