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New comic The 77 is the brainchild of Ben Cullis from Castle Bytham

A children’s tutor with a brilliant eye for animation has launched a new retro comic.

‘The 77’ is the work of Ben Cullis from Castle Bytham and a team of artists, writers and comic editors who have worked on everything from Roy of the Rovers, Eagle and The Beano, through to 2000AD and Judge Dredd.

“The name The 77 comes from the fact that many older comic fans see 1977 as a pinnacle year for British comics, when many mainstream publishers were producing outstanding graphic arts products,” said Ben, who works as an 11-plus exam tutor and teacher.

Ben Cullis (34746543)
Ben Cullis (34746543)

“It was also the year most associated with punk rock, and the influence of both those things led to me choosing a career in graphic design and creating some popular fanzines in the 1980s, which helped to built up my graphic artist contacts.”

Despite the retro nature of the new comic, Ben anticipates The 77’s readership will cover all age groups and blends sci-fi and fantasy, war-based strips, romantic fiction and ‘straight-up comic funnies’.

“The comic is packed full of amazing artwork and gripping storylines that will whisk the reader off to a different time and place for an hour or two, which is quite a blessing at this moment in time,” he said.

The comic cover (34746541)
The comic cover (34746541)

“I like to say that it is a love letter to the comics that made us.”

Ben has been ‘delighted’ with the response to The 77 from fellow publishers and comic professionals.

“So much so that many of them have been in touch saying that they’d like to get involved in future issues,” he said. “I’ve also had a lot of encouragement and some really useful advice.

“It’s not just old hands who are involved, though. We also have up-and-coming comic strip creators; most interestingly a 12-year-old from Dundee called Drew Marr, who has been a comics sensation since he was seven and who runs his own publishing company selling thousands of comics.”

Crowdfunding over the past year or so brought in the means to pay for the comic’s production.

“People were able to contribute in return for a comic, an artwork, a T-shirt or even the chance to appear in one of the first issue’s comic strips,” said Ben.

The first issue of The 77 is available to order here or people can e-mail Ben at BenKsy@mail.com for a postal copy.

Issue 2 of the quarterly anthology will be coming out in August.

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