Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Starblazer 'Rocket Age Adventures'

StarblazerRAA_GNREID.jpg, www.gnreid.co.uk

I like writing these kind of posts, I wrote one last year with my first work for 2000AD under my belt, it's a 'dream fulfilled' or 'mark it off the wish list' post. 

Back on January 25th 2010 I wrote a piece about a painting I had produced in homage to 'Starblazer' the digest sized sci-fi comic published by DC Thomson Ltd in Dundee. The post and painting received a fair amount comment and coverage from around 'the net' and I was lucky enough to see the image 'Stone of R'lyeh' published in the book 'Sci-fi Art Now' from Ilex Press.

As I stated in the post Starblazer ceased publication back in 1991 and DC Thomson has no plans to resurrect the title but if you read through the comments left you'll see a conversation about the roleplaying game 'Starblazer Adventures' from Cubicle 7 Entertainment Ltd. The writer of the game, Chris Birch, talked about why licensing Starblazer from DC Thomson worked for them and how, like myself, he had very fond memories of the comic. I've had the pleasure of producing a few pieces for Cubicle 7 in the last year (fate is a strange chap as fellow Scotch Corner contributor Jon Hodgson is now the Art Director of the company) and when I was asked if I was interested in producing the cover for a new Starblazer supplement I couldn't turn it down.

The supplement is called 'Rocket Age Adventures' and it allows the gamer to use the Starblazer rules as a more retro sci-fi, pulp style rocket ships and rayguns game. The brief called for "a nice dynamic piece with a load of rockets and rayguns and mysterious bulbous craft all coming bursting out at us framing a male and female character in nice rocketeer, bubble helmet style."

Sometimes I know exactly what I'm going to draw and the trick for me is to try and live up to my own vision of how an image should look. Artists and other creative people have been known to be notoriously critical of their own work and its understandable that if what's on paper doesn't match your own vision of how it should look that you will be negative about your achievements. I knew pretty much from the outset how I was going to be approaching this and my initial sketch was approved with one change… to add in another rocket.

StarblazerRAA_SketchPencil.jpg, www.gnreid.co.uk

Onto the pencils and as I have tendency to produce very tight pencil work it was a good indication for the client to see how the finished illustration was going to look. I then inked and set to colouring the piece. I wanted to have a marked difference between the man and woman and the elements that surrounded them so I kept the characters and the rocky planet surface in their original solid inked style but the rockets, robot and saucers I decided to paint and drop the inked line to give them a different kind of look. I had a lot of fun adding in little touches to this cover and by the time I'd finished I had decided that for me it's the best illustration I've produced this year, I think I nailed it on the head for this one and I'm very happy with it and thankfully so was the client who gave me special permission to show it off.

So in a very rare event I have a cover I'm very happy with, that the client loves and, although the comic disappeared 20 years ago, I think this could be about as close as you can now get to saying you've drawn a cover for Starblazer. Not bad I reckon.

©2011 Cubicle 7 Entertainment Ltd.


  1. I love this piece and couldn't think of a better cover for "Rocket Age Adventures". I am looking forward to showing it off to my family and friends over the holidays, they're all excited about my next book.

  2. When I'm doing the whole AD thing what I'm looking for is someone that you can explain the gist of the book to, say "Got it?" they say "Got it", and then they come back a bit later with a glorious piece of work that is everything I hoped it would be.

    Job's a goodun Mr Reid!

  3. Cheers Ken, glad you like it, it was a blast to do!

    High praise indeed MrH, I may have to use that comment as testimonial or perhaps get a T-shirt printed :) Many thanks for sending the job my way!