Thursday, October 25, 2012
The Prisoner of Smash!
Back in the 1960s and 1970s, numerous British TV adventure shows had a comic strip version running in one or other of the many weekly comics of the time. From series that are now almost forgotten such as No Hiding Place and Orlando to the ever popular Thunderbirds and Doctor Who, it seemed natural for comics such as TV Express and TV21 to reflect the popularity of the small screen heroes.
There were exceptions of course. Although The Avengers, The Champions, Department S, The Saint and Danger Man all appeared as weekly comic strips, other shows such as Jason King, Randall and Hopkirk (Deceased) and The Prisoner never did. It's not too surprising regarding the latter as its quirky, satirical, surreal tone didn't really lend itself to the style of British children's comics at the time.
Except... there was an instance when The Prisoner appeared in a UK comic strip. The issue in question was Smash! No.109 and the character appeared as a guest star in Charlie's Choice, illustrated by Brian Lewis.
The plot of Charlie's Choice was simple but intriguing. Every week a different character from a contemporary TV show or historical documentary would emerge from Charlie's magical portable television, with hilarious consequences. (Well, slightly amusing consequences at least.) Brian Lewis was often (but not always) the artist and he skillfully captured the likenesses of the actors. His version of Patrick McGoohan here is excellent.
With this Prisoner spoof, none of the complexities of the series are addressed. It's just a simple story of Number Six on the run, escaping "that place" (the Village) and eventually returning due to his own error. Nevertheless, Brian Lewis could easily turn his hand to humour and adventure artwork and if there had been a comic strip version of The Prisoner back then I think the more realistic style Lewis used on strips such as Moon Madness would have suited it perfectly.
The Prisoner did eventually appear in comic form of course. Jack Kirby's aborted and never-published version in the 1970s would have been interesting, and in the 1980s, Dean Motter's The Prisoner: Shattered Visage was published by DC Comics in the USA.
I did a kind of parody of the devices and situations of the series in a Combat Colin serial in The Transformers around 1989/90. Here's part one...
(This Combat Colin chapter and the rest of the story can be seen in my book Brickman Begins, available here: http://www.lewstringer.com/page7.htm )
I've always liked the original Prisoner TV series and about ten years ago I created The Unmutual Website as a small news site. However after a couple of years I didn't have time to continue running it so I handed it over to a pal, Rick Davy, who is far more knowledgeable about the series than I and who has expanded the site into a fantastic news and information source. Here's the link:
Incidentally, here's a couple of comic strips I did for that website. A mixture of traditional cartoon and CGI imagery:
"Unmutual" was a phrase used in The Prisoner episode 'A Change of Mind' to refer to residents who refused to cooperate with the oppressive rules and establishment of The Village. Likewise, The Unmutual Website has no connection with any fan club regarding the TV series and is an independent news source that is free for all.
If you're interested in The Prisoner and its themes, or if you've never heard of it and you're wondering what the heck I'm on about, take a look around that site. You should find a few things of interest.