Tuesday, September 01, 2015

The changing face of TV21

I have a pile of new British comics and books to review but, in case you think I've forgotten that this is mainly a blog about vintage British comics, let's take a look at how TV21 changed its cover design over the years. 

TV Century 21, as it was originally called, launched on Wednesday 20th January 1965 with this bold logo and its distinctive newspaper-style cover...

A year later with issue No.52 (January 15th 1966), the comic had its first revamp to celebrate the arrival of the Thunderbirds strip to its pages. The new box-style logo was more flexible for the cover designers, able to be placed in the corner of the page, or under a headline (as shown), or even on a few occasions, tilted 90 degrees to one side.

That design continued for quite a while, until issue No.141 (September 30th 1967), when it was redesigned as a banner again, now incorporating the Spectrum logo. Captain Scarlet had arrived in TV21 in a big way!  

A few weeks later, with issue 155 (January 5th 1968), came huge changes for the comic. The title was simplified to TV21 (which everyone had always called it anyway), the logo was more basic, changing its colour and background colour every week, and most dramatically, the unique newspaper-style covers were replaced by a regular Captain Scarlet strip. (This cover illustrated by Ron Embleton.) Presumably sales had dipped and this was an attempt to show potential readers that TV21 was a comic, not a magazine, but in doing so it lost some of its character I think. 

The covers were very dynamic though, particularly this one by Mike Noble. Issue 162 (Feb 24th 1968) was the first to show how adaptable the new logo could be; one week it could be a banner, the next week it could be restructured like this, to suit the cover image. 

Several months later, a merger gave us TV21 and TV Tornado with issue 192 (September 21st 1968). The comic was moving even further away from its original concept, with more non-Anderson material (Department S, The Saint, etc) and free football cards! Cover art by Frank Bellamy though, so that's something.

Drastic steps to regain the comic's identity were implemented with issue 218 (March 22nd 1969), as a new logo and newspaper design hearkened back to the early styles. 

That first series of TV21 ended with issue 242, - or it did until last year, when an official all-new TV21 No.243 was produced as an extra in Network's Supermarionation Blu-Ray boxset (see here). Editor Martin Cater gave us a new logo in a grand TV21 tradition. 

The second series of TV21 began with a couple of weeks delay due to strike action but in September 1969, TV21 and Joe 90 No.1 appeared. New logo, content heavily influenced by its merger with Joe 90, and bloomin' football on the cover! 

With the third issue, the blue background was replaced with a regular purple one...

...and with issue 4 (18th October 1969), the football photos were thankfully dropped in favour of cover paintings highlighting one of the stories inside...

Issue 36 saw the end of the Joe 90 strip so TV21 No.37 (6th June 1970) had another new logo...

It seems the editor was still deciding on a colour for the logo, as the following week saw 'TV' in red...

...but with issue 39 (20th June 1970) the new logo was tweaked and finalised, just in time for new strips to begin. The new strips had nothing to do with television programmes, perhaps to avoid paying fees to TV companies.

With issue 42 (11th July 1970), the cover paintings were replaced by the Star Trek strip starting on the cover. (Star Trek had joined the comic from Joe 90 when the two titles had merged.)This one by Mike Noble, although other artists such as Ron Turner and Harold Johns also had stints on the strip. 

TV21's cover format then stayed the same until the final issue of its "New Series" (No.105). The week after, it merged into Valiant dated 2nd October 1971, with the only strips passing over being Star Trek and non-TV strip The Tuffs of Terror Island. A sad decline for a great comic, but it had a good run!

(All of the covers shown here are scanned from my collection, except for new series No.42 which is from an eBay page.)


16 comments:

John Pitt said...

Excellent overview of arguably the greatest British comic of our generation! These are the kind of posts you excel at, ( more, please!)
If there was only ONE UK comic I could have every single issue of, it would be TV 21.
Great collection you have there, Lew, ( says he with a green face!! )

Lew Stringer said...

There's no point in jealousy, John. Everyone has things that are precious to them, in one way or another.

I have all the TV21's from the first series except for issues 2 and 28. Have about 40 of the second series, but that wasn't so good so I'm not bothered about filling those gaps. It's taken me 50 years to get all those though. :)

Paul McScotty- Muir said...

I agree with John another excellent review Lew. I never bought TV21 in its prime as I was never a big fan of comics that featured TV strips (no idea why & I still feel like that) and as I recall it was a bit more expensive than traditional UK other comics of the time - didn't TV21 have a price on the cover from issue 218 (1969) a I can't see one on the covers here. I have seen a few issues of 1960s TV21's in comic shops and they do look amazing, I really missed out on this book as a kid as I have seen a few of the strips reprinted in collections and they are gems.

I did pick up a few of the latter editions of the comic from around 1970 (after its glory days) and from memory they were not great, didn't they feature some Marvel strips like Silver Surfer & Spider-man ( or was that another comic?) - I love the Valiant merger comic shown here (I bought Valiant pretty much every week at this time)

Lew Stringer said...

You're right, they missed the price off issue 218. Bet that caused problems. No barcode to scan back then of course.

Yes, the later issues featured Msrvel reprint. I've covered it a few times on this blog but here you go:
http://lewstringer.blogspot.co.uk/2008/02/road-to-marvel-uk-part-3.html

paddykool said...

TV 21ST CENTURY!!! I loved it when it came out in 1965 and it seemed very grown -up in that big newspaper format and the quality paper.I can still remember being very excited about it but not as excited as I was about American Marvel comics which were firing on all cylinders at about that same time. I've still got a fair comic collection but strangely enough I never tried to keep any of the original TV21 issues. They were probably too difficult to store safely back then , compared to the neater american comics which seemed such an exotic novelty in comparison. We tend to forget how rare they were on this side of the pond .The end result is that i have none of the TV21's still in my collection. Maybe the new project will be to remedy that, eh?

Lew Stringer said...

I threw out all my early TV21's too, as I didn't start saving comics until 1967. I managed to reacquire them over the years though for very reasonable amounts, and most are in excellent condition. They'd be expensive to collect now, though but good luck!

John Pitt said...

It's my own stupid fault that I didn't look after/keep all of my original copies. I don't feel so badly about my ( also beloved! ) Power Comics, as at least I put those back in circulation back in '81, ( in a Darlington comic shol ), so I'd like to think that they all went to loving homes that really wanted them. Incidentally, the owner of said shop at that time had never heard of Power Comics before! He thought that Marvel UK,'72 was where it all started over here! He used a price-guide called The Ferret, in which there was noention!
Anyway, any attempts to reaquire any TVC21's on EBay have resulted in my being outbid and they have gone for absolutely silly prices, so good luck in finding those 2 missing issues!
As for me, better to have loved and lost ( comics ), than never to have had them at all!
By the way, I had been enjoying GA in TV Comic prior to TV21, way back from the days of Four Feather Falls, but when 21 came out, it was more "grown-up", ( as I had, slightly ). My one disappointment was that Space Patrol didn't cross over too. They could have dropped Burke's Law, for me!

Lew Stringer said...

I'm not that bothered about missing those two issues, John. Like you said, prices are expensive and those two would be particularly high in the condition I'd want. Issue 28 is a collectors item, more than the others, because it cover features the Dr.Who film.

I don't think there would have been the slightest chance of Space Patrol appearing in TV21. Unlike TV Comic, TV21 was produced by Century 21, and Space Patrol was considered to be a direct rival to Anderson's puppet series.

John Pitt said...

But didn't Sylvia Anderson have a hand in Space Patrol? I always thought of itore as a side-project than a rival. In fact, the entire series has been included as bonus footage on DVDs of either Twizzle or Torchy.
I'm fairly sure there was some involvment from the Anderson camp.

Lew Stringer said...

Are you sure, John? I don't think Sylvia Anderson had anything to do with Space Patrol. She was working with Gerry at the time. Also, the full series of Space Patrol was released on DVD. It'd have been quite a bonus if all 39 episodes had been included with Twizzle or Torchy.

John Pitt said...

If not Sylvia, then definately a third party from the Anderson camp had an involvment with SP.
Also, that's right about it being on one of those DVDs. I'll try and find one tonight and send you a link.

Lew Stringer said...

You might be thinking of Roberta Leigh?

John Pitt said...

http://gerryanderson.wikia.com/wiki/The_Adventures_of_Twizzle
Yes, Roberta Leigh. There's something about SP on the Twizzle DVD SOMEWHERE in here.

Lew Stringer said...

I expect they'd have to mention Space Patrol on the Twizzle DVD as it was part of her history but surely it wouldn't have included the entire series of SP on the Twizzle discs as you said? Perhaps Network had offered both Space Patrol and Twizzle as a special discount deal or something? I've only ever seen them as separate DVD sets.

John Pitt said...

Well , it looks like you're right about their not adding ALL the episoxes. I have been searching all day and I have found several mentions of
DVDs of Twizzle with the pilot of SP as the bonus, but no more than that one episode. So it looks like wherever I read it with "the full series" ( and I HAVE recommended this DVD to other bloggers too!), then this particular piece gave incorrect information. It certainly looks that way.
So apologies to anyone I may have unwittingly recommended this DVD to.

Lew Stringer said...

Well the fact that the Twizzle DVD set even featured the pilot of Space Patrol is news to me so thanks for that info anyway John! The only Anderson shows I have on DVD range from Supercar to UFO. I'm not that interested in any before or after those, so I wasn't aware what was on the Twizzle set. Thanks.

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