Writers: John Wagner, Alan GrantArtists: Ian Gibson, Massimo BelardinelliPublisher: Rebellion (£13.99, paperback)
Breaker breaker, good readers. Now Ace Garp and his space trukkin’ crew are back, bunk’s yer unk. So threes and sevens to ya, Earth diggers, and ten-ten till we do it again…
If this makes no sense, you’ve probably never read Ace Trucking Co. Space trucker Ace Garp and his alien crew plied their trade in 2000 AD from 1982 to 1986, becoming the magazine’s longest-running comedy saga ever.
Remember those light-hearted trucking movies of the late Seventies and early Eighties? Remember how Kris Kristofferson or Burt Reynolds kept us smiling with their light-hearted japery and fast-talking CB lingo, while running rings around the petty, incompetent authorities? Ace Trucking Co is basically this set-up in space. The characters talk in their own futuristic trucking slang as they haul their cargo across the galaxy. It’s a madcap knock-around that’s full of fresh ideas, with Wagner and Grant letting their imaginations run riot as Garp’s labours took him to all sorts of weird and spectacular places. Massimo Belardinelli proved the perfect artist to bring the alien landscapes and freaky characters to life too. It’s a prime example of how an intelligently-put-together team can get the very best out of each other, with the sum being greater than the already-great parts.
Perhaps its sci-fi trucking theme and pseudo-CB vernacular makes the stories appear a little dated, but with over 20 years having passed since they first appeared, they come across as pleasingly retro rather than stale and tired. Besides, the Eighties are back in fashion these days, right?
Unfortunately, The Complete Ace Trucking Co Volume 1 suffers from the same shortcomings as Revolution’s other recent 2000 AD reprints in this series. The collection has been put together with a distinct lack of care, with no index or even a contents section. There are no extras such as interviews with the artists or writers either. On the plus side, the stories are beautifully reprinted and at 320 pages, you’re getting loads of Garp for your bym (that’s money, non-truckers). It’s great to see three ‘bonus’ stories culled from the sci-fi specials and annuals too – I hate collections which call themselves ‘The Complete’ but ignore tales printed outside the main publication.
For all its early strengths, Ace Trucking Co went on way too long. This first volume ends with Ace and his crew in prison, and that’s where the entire saga should’ve ended. It seems clear the writers felt so too, but the story’s popularity with the readers forced its return over and again, long after the characters and storylines had grown stale. But that’s Volume 2’s problem. What we have here is Ace Trucking Co at its glorious best, and it’s well worth your money.
The Complete Ace Trucking Co. Volume 1 is out now.