Now that Ahoy’s Bronze Age Boogie: Swords Against Dacron! is available wherever books are sold, readers can take a trip back in time to the wildest parts of the 1970s in this collected trade featuring issues #1-6 of the wacky action comic. But first, before hopping into that time-travel machine, The Beat has a very special exclusive preview.
In addition to the book synopsis and cover art, below you’ll find the introductory essay by writer Stuart Moore, as well as five exclusive interior pages from the Bronze Age Boogie trade paperback. Without further ado…
“I SAY IT’S NOSTALGIA AND I SAY THE HELL WITH IT!
“Her name wasn’t Roxane, but let’s call her that. She was two years older than me—a glamorous high school junior—and I’d met her in the American Studies class they’d accelerated me into. She was smart, kind of shy, and having grown up part of the time in France, she had two native languages. I thought that was the coolest thing I’d ever heard.
“Roxane and I weren’t close—I don’t think we ever actually hung out together. But I had that affection for her, just short of a crush, that a nerdy adolescent feels when someone older accepts them for who they are. I liked it when she worked shifts at Tiger’s Deli. We’d exchange awkward hellos while I scavenged through the shelves for the latest science fiction magazine that some poor publisher had decided to cast out into a dying market.
“One day she sold me a copy of Marvel Preview #4. I was a little embarrassed. The character on the cover, “Star-Lord,” looked pretty silly. I was into Analog, Fantasy and Science Fiction, that sort of thing. I’d cut way back on comic books in the past year. They seemed childish, like something I’d outgrown.
“Something about this book called to me, though. And inside was an editorial by the late Archie Goodwin that echoed my own reservations. It was called “I Say It’s Space Opera and I Say to Hell With It!” and in it, Archie talked about his disdain for shoot-em-up, western-fiction- derived science fiction. “Guys running around in ridiculous costumes, usually tights,” he wrote, “with fishbowls on their heads—zapping crazed BEMs with their ray guns. Intolerable!”
“But then Archie went on to explain that he’d inherited editorial duties on this book, with the title character, Star-Lord, already in place. He’d also recently been introduced to the space-opera fiction of Jack Vance which, he said, ‘opened up a whole area of enjoyable reading I’d been too snobbish to sample.’
“I read that magazine over and over again. And it was a magazine, large-sized in black and white, with two mind-blowing features—Star-Lord and the short-lived Sword in the Star—as well as articles and features. It looked very different from the format we’re using at AHOY, but in their way, those Marvel magazines were an inspiration for our own comic magazines.
“And now I’ve written/edited/co-created a comic book series inspired, in a more direct way, by Marvel Preview and its ilk: Savage Sword of Conan, of course, but also the various Kung Fu and horror ’zines from a variety of publishers. The phrase BRONZE AGE, which comics historians use to refer to the comics of the ‘70s and ‘80s, is actually in our title.
“Which brings up an awkward question: Is this book an exercise in nostalgia?
“That may not sound like an awkward question—to you, anyway. But I’m deeply suspicious of nostalgia. I think of it as a bit of a trap: a warm, sad feeling that ultimately leaves you cold and alone. I’ve always preferred to look forward, to move on to the next project, the new challenge.
“Nostalgia is also a very personal experience, which makes it a tricky exercise for a writer. Old comics, old movies, mean something very different to every person who’s read or seen them. There’s nothing wrong with that. But trying to evoke a period—to recreate a feeling—is a difficult game. You’re likely to miss the mark with most of your audience, because that feeling is different for everyone.
“So yeah, I’m suspicious of nostalgia. In fact, I’m probably as suspicious of it as Archie Goodwin was of monsters, blasters, and space westerns.
“Yet here I am, writing a foreword for a book awash in 1970s cultural concepts, and getting misty about high school friends and buying comics at Tiger’s Deli.
“All I can say is: I think this book is more than just nostalgia. Yes, we’re playing with certain types of characters and plot devices that have largely dropped out of the cultural conversation. I’ve also sprinkled in a few narrative techniques you don’t see so much in modern comics, like those crazy illustrated-text pages that characterized some of the more literate Marvel books of the ’70s. But all that is used sparingly, only when it serves the story.
“One thing’s for sure: I am incredibly lucky to have Alberto Ponticelli and Giulia Brusco in the VW microbus with me. They make BOOGIE look like what it should be: a modern comic about the 1970s (and other time periods), a title that looks at home next to Saga and Seeds and Seven for Eternity. Alberto’s characters are expressive and evocative; his settings seem incredibly real. And I couldn’t believe it when he told me he was a longtime martial arts teacher. You’re about to see that expertise in full-color action.
“I’ve known Giulia for a long time, but never worked with her before. I knew she was good, but the first pages she sent took my damn breath away. I’ve been doing this for a while, and I’m not easily impressed. But wow. WOW.
“So I hope you enjoy BRONZE AGE BOOGIE. But meanwhile, I’m left sitting here in 2019, a time incalculably different from 1975, with the same question: Is this nostalgia?
“A classmate once asked Roxane, who (remember) was fluent in both English and French, which language she thought in. She paused, blushed, and shook her head. I don’t know, she said. Both?
“Maybe that’s the answer to my question. BOOGIE is nostalgia, and it isn’t. It exists, it lives, in both the world of 1975 and the world of today. If your taste in comics runs to Man-Eaters and Tom King’s Mister Miracle (mine sure does!), then I encourage you to experience our book for what it is. On the other hand, if you’re a fan of Savage Tales and the original (Kirby) Mister Miracle, I hope you’ll get an extra charge out of the period references and occasional Easter eggs.
“As for me: I was fortunate enough to get to know Archie Goodwin a little, in a time roughly equidistant from then and now. He was an amazing guy—funny, smart, down to Earth, liked and respected by virtually everyone in the comics industry. He is much missed, and I still laugh when I think of some of the stories he told me. I’m rambling. What I’m trying to say is, if Archie could get over his snobbishness toward space opera…
“…maybe I can make peace with nostalgia.
“Keep dancing!” — Stuart Moore, 2019
Story: Stuart Moore
Art/Cover: Alberto Ponticelli
Colorist: Giulia Brusco
Extras: Shawn Crystal
What do you get when you combine all the best-loved pop culture genres of the 1970s: apes, monsters, Kung Fu, sword-and-sorcery, and cosmic adventure? You get BRONZE AGE BOOGIE, an intense, character-based action-fest with plenty of style! This volume collects the complete six-issue series.