Sentinel – The Sci-Fi, Fantasy, Horror Comic
The first thing that strikes the reader about Sentinel is the cover. Does that logo look familiar? It might do to many of us, being a tribute to those classic Starblazer issues that D.C Thomson brought us so many years ago, adapting their popular Commando pocket book format (and providing an audience for early work from the likes of Grant Morrison not to mention amazing illustrations from the likes of Ian Kennedy.)
The Starblazer cover is a good indicator of the theme of Sentinel. The book is a tribute to some of the greats of British comics, crossing multiple genres from sci-fi to horror. The black and white weekly, delivered through the door from the local newsagent. From the spacefaring and future shocking likes of 2000 A.D. to spooky (and groundbreaking) girls comic Misty these books dominated the market with sales far in excess of any comic today. All age ranges were catered for and the books didn’t pull any punches with their themes, storylines or art.
Those weekly books were an imaginative foundation for a whole generation, maybe multiple generations. At the back of our minds, inky residues of memory, thought worlds of cheap paper filled with the fantastic, the melodramatic and the bizarre.
Those lingering memories certainly seem to have had an impact on Allan Holloway, writer for all of the six issues of Sentinel published so far. Ed Doyle is the mainstay as artist, but with a few other artists also featuring including Paul Spence, Morgan Gleave and Ian Beadle.
Among the standout issues for me was issue 3 ‘A Fare to Remember’. This tale of space cabbies hit a strong Ace Trucking Co. vibe and the visual influence of Massimo Belardinelli is clear (just to emphasise the point, he also gets a namecheck in the issue). With nods to the sit-com Taxi, the movie Taxi-Driver and probably a few more I missed, this is a funny and fast-paced issue.
I also enjoyed the tribute to legendary girls horror comic Misty – oddly enough there was a strip in Misty called The Sentinels (about some tower blocks that are a portal to a Nazi dystopia!). Misty Moore, is a tale of bullying schoolgirls and the homicidal consequences with a supernatural edge. The story is dark and indeed quite bloody, with an interesting twist – very much capturing the vibe of the original, especially the strip Moonchild, which was goth before there were goths. Like many of the other books this one seeks to emulate the penciled art style of the original.
There is plenty more to choose from, including gladiatorial dragons, and the lushly illustrated fantasy strip Kazana the Slayer which was closer to the Trigan Empire than Slaine.
The book has some rough edges and while it looks towards the likes of 2000 AD it is still an amateur comic and falls short of the quality standards of those great British weeklies of the past. However Sentinel delivers solidly entertaining comic stories with a nostalgic twist that will appeal to many readers.
The next phase for Sentinel sees the return of the hero of the first issue, courier Doyle Braddock. The book is funding on Kickstarter now and you can check out the campaign here.
You can find more about Sentinel comic on their Facebook Page.