The 77 started off as a retro anthology with the tagline “Your future is history!” An off-shoot of the Facebook group 1977-2000AD, The 77’s mission statement was to re-create those halcyon days when the black and white British weekly ruled. The strips in the first few issues were great fun but definitely had Harlem’s Heroes, Rogue Trooper and Tharg’s Future Shocks in their DNA. This of course is no bad thing but I think it’s fair to say that this year something really interesting started to happen.
Publisher: The 77 Publications
Price: £2.97 in digital, £5.77 in print from the 77 Store
Full disclosure: I write for The 77 (The Last Man, Matilda Atkins, I Know the Secret of the Alien) and am fortunate to have worked with some great artists so far including Sarah Millman and Phil Elliott. The strip I wrote for the May issue was illustrated by legendary 2000AD and Doctor Who artist Mike Collins. The following issue featured a new strip illustrated by Judge Anderson, Sinister Dexter and Armitage artist Charlie Gillespie. Rom, GI Joe and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles artist Hal Laren was the artist on Division 77: Origins and the story Animal Kingdom was dawn by John McCrea (Hitman, Spider-Man, The Boys, Swamp Thing). More people were beginning to take notice of The 77 and wanting to be a part of it.
The current issue features the beautifully painted art of Ian Stopworth, bringing Paul Goodenough’s ecological warning tale Extinction 2040 to life. Galactic Geographic from Noel K Hannan and Warwick Fraser-Coombe takes the reader far into a time yet to come where as Jormun by R-DVE and Bruno Stahl takes us back to the age of the Vikings. It no longer feels like it’s got one foot in the past. Ironically, the things that it’s got in common with classic 2000AD is that it’s looking towards the future and isn’t scared to take risks.
As with any anthology there’s always being to be some strips you might like more than others but then that was always part of the charm of 2000AD, Action and Eagle. The 77 stable seems to be growing as well as this year also saw the launch of companion title Blazer, created by Steve Macmanus, The 77 Annual and the announcement of Pandora, a contemporary twist on the Misty format. If you are a fan of new talent like I am, part of the joy of The 77 and other similar titles (Shift springs to mind in particular) is discovering artists and writers you’ve never come across before alongside more familiar faces such as Ian Gibson and Kek-W.
One thing that does make The 77 stand out from its competitors is that it’s a lot of fun. It difficult to read an issue of a British comic full of future gladiators, time-travelling teenagers, aliens and sea-monsters without having a massive grin on your face and with the world in the state that it is at the moment, to me that seems reason enough to check it out!