The cult classic comic Starstruck—well ahead of its time when initially released in 1985—has found a new life at IDW. An SF series that spanned galaxies and influences, Starstruck began as a stage play before its initial publication in Heavy Metal Magazine, later finding homes at Marvel’s Epic imprint and Dark Horse. Set in the distant future, it is a comedic space opera with a cast of strong female characters—a rarity in comics then and now.
In August, IDW began to revisit the Starstruck universe, releasing a 13-issue limited series, fully recolored by Lee Moyer and fine-tuned by series creators Elaine Lee and Michael William Kaluta. Thus far the first four issues have been released. Additionally, the series is being adapted into an audio play through a new company called Audiocomics, who also run a non-profit company that performed the original play as a benefit for comics legend Gene Colan.
Lee said she first received the call from Scott Dunbier at IDW and then from Audiocomics regarding the benefit, which was the first time she had thought about Starstruck in years.
“I suppose our time has come,” she said.
Lee describes the initial release of Starstruck in 1985 as “pushing the envelope,” the series was published in Europe first before finding its way to Heavy Metal Magazine. Lee notes that the prior to the advent of Watchmen and Neil Gaiman’s Sandman (published in 1986 and 1989 respectively) Starstruck’s non-linear story and large cast of female characters was hard for some readers to relate to.
“They always called us a cult comic,” she said. “Now with television shows like LOST and Heroes, people are used to non-linear stories.”
Dunbier had known Kaluta for many years, and having seen the original art said he felt that the technology at the time of Starstruck’s original release did the series no justice. Upon coming to IDW he starting thinking about re-release projects, and of course Starstruck came to mind.
Lee says she and Kaluta are very happy with the re-release, noting that existing fans of the series will be able to experience the Starstruck universe in a whole new way with the color enhancement.
“It’s an entirely new experience because of the color, but it’s more than that,” said Dunbier. “This really is Starstruck as it’s never been seen before.”
Because it was first released in Heavy Metal, the original series was laid out in a shorter, almost square format. To adjust the layout for the traditional comics format, Kaluta made the pages longer, in some instances resulting in new panels being added. He said that the longer format adds up to about four pages of brand new art. He has also added new pages within each issue—the beginning and ending will be the same, but ardent fans may notice new content within the story.
“This is the first time where the stories are handed to the reader the way that they should be read. In Heavy Metal they were so chopped up,” he said.
In addition to experiencing a newly colored series, fans can also enjoy part of the never before published Galactic Girl Guides material, inked by Charles Vess. According to Kaluta the majority of these stories are previously unreleased. He and Lee are also working on a new Starstruck Web site, which may contain additional material, such as previously unreleased Girl Guides featuring art from Linda Medley.
“We have a whole big universe,” said Lee. “We might do something like have a big panel from one of the comics and you can click on it and get all kinds of information on what things are.”
And of course, there is a Facebook group and fan page for readers, allowing fans to connect with Lee. “The truth is I’ve become really good friends with some of the fans through Facebook," she says. "But also, I married a fan. My husband was a fan, our color artist was a fan; I’m just surround by these great people who are so supportive.”
Facebook fans have other perks to look forward to as well—Kaluta said he will sometimes post new art “hot off the presses” to the group page for members to view. Kaluta said the response has been extremely positive, that between the new format, new coloring and regular release schedule fans are tickled.
And the universe is only expanding. Lee said that back issues can be purchased directly from IDW, and though a trade will be released sometime in the future she urged fans to support the single-issue run. In the spring, Lee will begin recording the audio plays, which will be available on CD and as a download. Though IDW has only committed to the initial 13 issues thus far, Kaluta says there are many more stories to be told.
“It’d be a wonderful thing to get the email or phone call that they’d like to go the next step. I’d be drawing even more,” he says.