1977 (Progs 1 – 45)
February: The Galaxy’s Greatest comic, 2000AD is launched. Prog 1 is priced 8p (Earth money). The editor is advertised as Tharg the Mighty, an alien from Betelgeuse, who will soon answer readers’ letters from his Nerve Centre.
The first issue features a revived Dan Dare (formerly of legendary 1950-69 comic, The Eagle), Invasion! about a Soviet-inspired attempt to occupy 1990s Britain, Flesh, a time-travelling dinosaur drama, future sport thriller, The Harlem Heroes and M.A.C.H.1. All of these are, at least in part, created by 2000AD’s original editor, Pat Mills.
As of 2020, of all the British comics competing for shelf space in the newsagents of 1977 only The Beano, Commando and 2000AD survive today.
March: Judge Dredd, top lawman in the crime-ridden futuristic 21st/22nd century metropolis of Mega City One debuts in Prog 2. Dredd quickly becomes the comic’s most popular, well-known and enduring character.
May: Dredd Robot Wars story begins (Prog 9).
July: Pat Mills resigns as editor after 19 issues and is replaced Kelvin Gosnell. Mills remains a very active presence in the comic.
August: The price rises to 9p. The first of Tharg’s Futureshocks (occasional one-off stories, usually with a twist) appears (Both Prog 25). Other new stories this year include Shako and Inferno.
September: Judge Dredd’s brother appears in The Return of Rico! (Prog 30).
The first 2000AD Sci-Fi Special appears. It initially appears under the name, Summer Special Supercomic, becoming the Sci-Fi Special from 1978 onwards. A Dan Dare Poster Magazine is also published in the summer.
The first 2000AD annual also appears, dated 1978.
April: US sci-fi magazine, Heavy Metal is launched.
September: The first Eagle Awards ceremony for British comics.
October: The controversial Action comic comes to an end. Contrary to popular belief, it is not banned.
December: George Lucas’s Star Wars is released in the UK, seven months after it is released in the US in May. An unexpected massive hit, its release triggers a science fiction boom which to some extent, continues to this day.
Science-fiction magazine, Starburst begins, also in December 1977.
Chris Hallam is a freelance writer. Originally from Peterborough, he now lives in Exeter with his wife. He writes for a number of magazines and websites including The Companion, Yours Retro, Best of British and Comic Scene – in which he wrote about Judge Death, The Ballad of Halo Jones, Dan Dare, The Eagle, Metalzoic and Alan Moore’s Watchmen. In the past, he wrote for Metro.co.uk, Radio Times, DVD Monthly and Geeky Monkey. He co-wrote the book, Secret Exeter (with Tim Isaac) and A-Z of Exeter – People, Places, History. He also provided all the written content for the 2014 annuals for The Smurfs, Furbys and Star Wars Clone Wars as well as for sections of the 2014 South Park annual and all the 2015 Transformers annual.