The brand new issue of TV21 turned up today, just as it used to on a Wednesday back in the 1960s. Colonel White is back in charge of the letters page and all the strips begin new adventures. John Burns' Lady Penelope is particularly exciting, and it's good to see Gerry Embleton drawing Stingray.
In case you hadn't already read my earlier blogs on the subject, this issue of TV21 is a special one-off edition that is part of the package of goodies within the Supermarionation box set. The concept of this comic is that it's issue No.243 of TV21, dated September 13th 2069, - the issue that one imagines might have been published in 1969 had Joe 90 comic not merged into its pages. An issue of TV21 from an alternate reality if you like!
The Brains behind this brilliant idea is editor Martin Cater of Network, the company responsible for the excellent box set. Assembling a team of comic creators he has constructed a 24 page comic that perfectly echoes the TV21 of yesteryear. It's even the exact size of those early editions and carries the same story logos that were designed in the 1960s. The content though is all-new!
The strips include all the Gerry Anderson shows produced in the 1960s, so in addition to Supercar, Fireball XL5, Stingray, Thunderbirds, and Captain Scarlet plus Zero X we also have Joe 90 (who never appeared in the first series of TV21 until the relaunched merger with his own comic) and The Secret Service (which never previously appeared in TV21 at all). There's also a pitch perfect Agent 21 strip by Brian Williamson and a Zoony the Lazoon strip by myself, plus a Project Sword prose story. Graham Bleathman is also on board with a new cutaway of the Mars Space Probe.
It's good to see my old friends Mike Collins and Bambos contributing good stuff, and Antonio Barreti's Secret Service is a spot-on sixties homage, but I'm sure they'll forgive me when I say the highlight for me was the centrespread strip, - Lady Penelope by John Burns! The veteran artist is still a master of his craft and these pages look so authentically 1960s that for a moment I felt I was back in that decade. Rest assured though that this is definitely brand new material!
John Burns isn't the only veteran artist involved, as Martin Asbury has contributed a two page Captain Scarlet strip and Gerry Embleton is back at the helm of Stingray! Embleton's style may be a little looser than it was but the skill is as sharp as ever. This is good stuff!
The comic even comes with a free gift in the form of six postcards of TV21 covers for the following few issues! Sadly those issues do not actually exist, but wouldn't it be great if they did?
Lest we forget though, this issue of TV21 is only available as part of Network's Supermarionation box set and the main content of that set are the blu-ray discs with a brand new documentary, selected episodes in High Definition, and Stephen La Riviére's book Filmed in Supermarionation. For the full details see Network's website here:
It's been an absolute pleasure to contribute to the history of TV21, - my favourite adventure comic of my childhood, and certainly my favourite comic of this year! For one day, the brighter, optimistic 21st Century is with us once again.