Saturday, September 24, 2016

This week in 1971: COUNTDOWN No.33

Here are a few pages from the issue of Countdown that went on sale Saturday 25th September, 45 years ago, in 1971. 

Before 2000AD proved them wrong, publishers felt that science fiction comics were old hat by the 1970s and wouldn't sell. One case in point being Countdown, which lasted just over a year before changing into TV Action and given a more action/adventure theme. 

Despite its short run, Countdown featured top of the league artwork by some of the premiere artists in the industry at the time. Editor Dennis Hooper proudly credited all the artists on the strips; something other British comics shied away from back then. 

With TV21 a poor shadow of its former self by 1971, Countdown had gained the licence to run strips based on Gerry Anderson TV shows. Effectively, it was more like TV21 than TV21 was at the time, and even reprinted some strips from the glory days of that title. In the main though, Countdown featured new material, such as the UFO serial on the front and back covers of this issue, with art by Gerry Haylock.  

Countdown featured a complete 7 page story every week, usually based on a Gerry Anderson show, but sometimes it was entirely original. Dangerous Drive being one example, being a futuristic thriller featuring a James Bond type named Andreas Caspo. Art by Rab Hamilton, who had previously drawn the Secret Agent 21 spy series for TV21.

The serial entitled Countdown was also originated solely for the comic. Although using spacecraft designs from the movie 2001: A Space Odyssey, there was no other connection to the film. Stunning artwork by John M. Burns...


Doctor Who began a new serial with this issue, nicely illustrated by Frank Langford. Before any purists say anything, we really didn't care that he was often referred to as "Dr.Who" back then. It was an abbreviation used everywhere, on merchandise, comics, TV listings, and even the TV series credited him as such for a while.


Add reprints of Stingray and Fireball XL5, a few science features and the humour strip Dastardly and Muttley and you had a great 24 page comic for 5p. 

3 comments:

Mikeodee said...

A comment on the related TV21 entry today lamented One Eyed Jack not being included in the recent Rebellion acquisition. I'm similarly disappointed about John Burns' Countdown strip. I read that the original artwork for the Countdown strip is actually sitting in the Daily Express archives, an acquisition, apparently, by the Express when it bought an art agency some years back. Maybe if the rebellion reprints are successful, this will encourage a reprint of 'Countdown' - I would love to see a quality collection of this. I wouldn't be surprised, though, if this wasn't further complicated by the spacecraft designs being - I think -acknowledged on first publication as based on Kubrick's 2001, A Space Odyssey.

Andrew kerr said...

Did they use any of Burns'work for the 'Zero G'special on '89? Or was that before the Trinity acquisition?

Lew Stringer said...

Reprints in the Zero G special, Andrew. I covered it back in April so if you check the archives on the right you'll find it.

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