I am on a bit of a nostalgia trip, reading an old comic book from my youth, and I have been for a while now. The one I’m reading is called 2000 AD, and I’ve reached issue 117. The cover is drawn by Ron Smith, who is an artist I have started to appreciate more and more since starting to read these ancient publications again. This is a wonderful image that captures some of the action from one of the stories inside the comic this issue, and allows Smith to show off his skill at rendering shiny, futuristic vehicles.

The story the cover comes from is the first one presented in this week’s issue, and it is a fun one. Judge Dredd sees a guy littering and yells at him to stop, but the man runs, committing ever more serious crimes as he tries to escape Judge Dredd. It’s a classic, and Smith’s art suits it very well.

Next comes Rick Random, which goes through a very swift change of pace in this issue. It had started out as a detective story, but it now becomes a war story, just like a lot of the others presented in the comic book. It’s a little disappointing to see this quite unique strip becoming more like all the others.

Next comes Strontium Dog, which is continuing its arc where the heroes have actually gone to Hell. It might be an alternate dimension that resembles our conception of Hell, but it is a fine distinction, and one that the story itself doesn’t spend too much time worrying about. Instead we get a lot of beautifully drawn action, with art by Ezquerra, who was born to draw Strontium Dog.

The story also shows Johnny Alpha using my favorite bloodthirsty invention from this ancient sci-fi comic book, the electronux. They don’t make a lot of sense, but they sure are cool. It also occurs to me that it might not be a great idea to use them underwater.

Dan Dare comes next, and it is beautifully drawn by Dave Gibbons, as usual, but it is just random action again. Dan is still fighting the same monster he started fighting two issues before, and he finally defeats it in a quite ridiculous way, using a very literal Achilles heel.

There has been a lot of action this issue, and a lot of great art, but the entire issue 117 is, for me, overshadowed by the advert on the back page. The adverts in these old comics from the late 70s are always interesting, but this one is even more so because I wrote away for the space calendar being advertised here. I pestered my mum into buying eight of the little plastic bottles of ice-cream topping I needed to send away the proof of purchase and get my calendar. The dessert topping company were involved in a few sci-fi promotions, including a TV advertisement that had the topping bottles flying like spaceships.

I’m not the only one who remembers this thing, either. Here is a blog post about the 1979 Jif Space Calendar. As the post explains:

3 paper labels from these things plus £1 got you a space calendar that would tell you what day a date fell on right through until ‘2001 ad’!

This was a great calendar, with parts that glowed in the dark, and I can still remember it in pride of place on my wall. It also made a storyline in Calvin and Hobbes more enjoyable for me. The arc is about collecting proofs of purchase to order a free gift, except Calvin wants a beanie not a calendar. In one of the strips from this run, Calvin excitedly tells Hobbes that he has eaten enough cereal and has enough proofs of purchase to order a beanie. Hobbes tells him it says to allow six weeks for delivery. Calvin is shocked! In six weeks, he’ll be old. Hobbes pats his head and says his beanie will be the talk of the rest home. I remember being just as shocked as Calvin at how long my gift would take to arrive.

Galaxy Dog (Dark Galaxy)

Start Reading the Dark Galaxy Trilogy

Galaxy Dog is an epic space opera. What starts as an ordinary invasion of an alien planet, brings to light an ancient archaeological site of huge importance. A young man called Knave makes a life-changing discovery there and rises from a lowly position as an infantry trooper to become a player among the powers of the galaxy. This is the story of his rise, and the story of the fierce and independent woman and the feisty robot who help him.