Readers from outside of the UK might not be aware that 2000AD and Star Wars have a number of close links. When Star Wars finally landed in the UK on 27th December 1977, the UK was primed and ready for its arrival, having heard tales of its monster success in the States all summer and autumn.
When the first prog arrived in newsagents on Saturday 26th February 1977, the world was a very different place. Leo Sayer was number one in the singles charts with When I Need You, while Rumours by Fleetwood Mac entered the UK album charts at number 57. It would go on to become the 9th biggest selling album of all time with over 40 million copies sold, much like fellow ’77 release Bat Out Of Hell by Meatloaf, the 6th biggest selling album of them all which would arrive in September and sell 43 million. And Saturday Night Fever would shift 40 million, the 8th biggest seller of all time. The Silver Jubilee, The Sex Pistols, Bjorn Borg’s second Wimbledon championship. In short, 1977 was a very good year for artists of every kind.
By Prog 8, Star Wars would have its first mention in the letters pages of 2000AD. With a copy of the film secured in the basement screening rooms at 20th Century Fox’s UK headquarters, word began to get out about this world-changing, once in a lifetime event film that was causing Beatlemania levels of hysteria in the States. By June, with the UK release of the film still 6 months away, elements of Star Wars were sneaking their way into Progs. Lazer Swords, and mentions of the film on covers primed fans for its arrival, and Star Warriors would appear in the Futurefocus posters. It’s this synergy between film and comic that has led Michael Carroll to write the first entry in a series of blogs looking at those connections.
It’s well documented that the imminent arrival of Star Wars and the expected consequent boom in science fiction popularity was one of the key elements that inspired 2000AD. What’s not so well documented is the surprisingly high volume of Star Wars references that actually appeared in 2000AD. A few months ago while searching through my back-issues I became aware of how often Star Wars was mentioned in the comic and decided to start compiling a list. While there’s a good chance that I’ve missed one or two references, I think I’ve caught all the good ones.
This first part only covers the first 190 issues (or “progs” — short for programme) of 2000AD, which takes us up to the end of 1980. If this feature proves to be popular enough, I might do a follow-up.
We definitely need a follow up article, taking us further into the 2000AD era and highlighting the many writers and artists from the magazine who would later produce stories in the GFFA.