The origins of Blazer lie in ex 2000AD (and more) Editor Steve MacManus’ satirical novel “The Sheerglam Conspiracy”, set within the good old days of British weeklies. Within that book are scripts for an imaginary comic, and these have formed the basis of “Blazer”, touted as a lost 1970s weekly discovered in a Singapore warehouse. All nonsense, of course, but part of the fun.
The makers of popular anthology “The 77” decided that it would be fun to make a comic out of Steve’s already completed scripts, and teamed him up with the some notable talent from the UK indie scene plus Dan Cornwall (of 2000AD and “Rok Of The Reds” fame). Delivered this morning was the result!
The first thing to stand out is the cover, which is bloody brilliant. It really screams out that this is a 70s comic for boys, repurposing interior art to great effect. There’s even foreign prices like what you used to get! The first two pages are given to editorial, contents and a few daft bits (including a “Top 3 stories” form to cut out and send in), and then it’s onto the action!
“Blazer” contains five stories, all wildly different. Opener “Godwin’s Law” is a rip roaring wartime jungle adventure, brilliantly illustrated by Dan Cornwall, then you’re whisked to the (then) present day as “Derringer & S’on” follows a “Fixer” in the US with his sidekick S’on. Yes, it’s quite groanworthy but it suits the publication and the strip’s not half bad either, with Colin Maxwell providing clear, clean art to direct the action well. The action is broken up by the “Blaze Away” page, featuring a few made up letters, a crap fact, a record review and a shite joke, just like in the old days!
The only colour strip is “Domenica’s Ring”, which brings us some lovely art from Peter Western, son of legendary comic artist Mike Western. It concerns a pop star, the titular Domenica, who is bonded to an ancient, magical and potentially lethal ring! Things come back to Earth with the first UK set strip “Boot Room Boy”. A homage to footie strips, this one sees back room worker Kenny Fortrose thrust into a murder enquiry when Barchester United get a swanky new foreign signing. Filippo Roncone supplies nice clear line art and shows a good talent for scenes requiring football action as well. The comic closes with “The Sheriffs Of Nottingham”, where a US sheriff manages to switch bodies with a UK beat bobby with, you know, consequences. It’s the weakest strip, for sure, and the use of “local” dialect makes it hard to follow, but I can see going forward it has the potential for some great hi-jinks as a UK plod acts like a hard nosed American lawmaker. Andrew Richmond continues the comic’s penchant for clear attractive black and white art, and also gets MANY bonus points for designing the non comic pages and that amazing cover.
The attractiveness of Blazer is really a nostalgia thing. If, like me, you have fond memories of comics like The Crunch, Action and Bullet (amongst others) you will love it. It even FEELS like a comic from those days, with the paper somewhere between original 2000AD and Starlord. In all honesty I thoroughly enjoyed reading it, happy with both the scripts and the art, with it feeling like a much more professionally put together product than it’s parent publication. The only thing that feels out of place is the fictional Sub Editor Dom Tom, as no 70s comic would have had a girl as the made up boss, and every time she is used it just comes accross as laddish buffoonery. Issue two is coming, so get yourself ready for more rough, tough action, and only let your sister read it if she lets you read her Buntys and Jintys.