EAGLE FLIES AGAIN Editor and Publisher Ian Wheeler Editorial Assistant Mary Wheeler Design John Freeman CONTRIBUTORS Writers Hello and welcome to the Eagle Flies Again Science Fiction Special. With Doctor Who making a triumphant return to our television screens (and wasn't it a great season?), we thought it was appropriate to take a look at some of the great science fiction characters who have graced the pages of our favourite comics over the years. We're all big science fiction fans here at EFA – I run the Doctor Who Appreciation Society and our very talented, very overworked designer John is the editor of Titan's Star Trek Magazine and a former editor of Doctor Who Magazine. He's also edited titles covering just about every major sci-fi franchise from Star Wars to Planet of the Apes via Babylon 5! Please note that this is a double issue and will count as two issues of your subscription. This is a one-off special and hence does not have an issue number. Our next regular issue – Issue 13 – will take a look at The 13th Floor and other spooky stories from the pages of Eagle and Scream, so send us your thoughts on The Collector, Bloodfang, Doomlord or any other spooky or monstrous stories. Finally, don't forget to check out our new Eagle Flies Again website (www.downthetubes.net/efa) which includes interviews from past issues no longer available and other information about this magazine. See you next time.
Ray Aspden, Martin Baines, Andrew Darlington, John Freeman, Dave Pugh, Richard Sheaf, Lew Stringer, Barrie Tomlinson, James Tomlinson, Shaqui La Vesconte, Ian Wheeler
Original Art for this issue Rufus Dayglo, Nigel Dobbyn, Bill Naylor, Paul J. Palmer, Dave Windett and Brian Williamson
The Lost Eagle Tapes Gerry Embleton
Cover/Dan Barton Art Andrew Chiu
Special Thanks to... Syd Jordan and all the comics creators who responded to our questionnaire about SF and their favourite SF comics – we were bowled over by the huge response of over 50 British comics contributors! If your answers aren’t in this issue, visit our web site: www.downthetubes.net/efa Thanks also to: Graham Baines; Steve Holland, Pat Mills, Richard Sheaf, Matt Yeo, Titan Books – and Comics International’s Chris Bunting and Silver Bullets for such generous reviews and SFX and Spaceship Away! for their continued support. Dan Dare and Eagle are copyright the Dan Dare Corporation Ltd. All other images are © their respective publishers and creators. In particular, EFA acknowledges the copyrights of IPC and Egmont Fleetway.
EAGLE FLIES AGAIN is a non-profit making venture and no infringement of copyright laws is intended. We apologise if we have done so.All articles are © the individual writers.
BACK ISSUES EFA #11 which includes interviews with John Wagner and Dan Abnett is available for £2.00 including postage and packing. EFA #12 – a tribute to artist Mike Western with a covr by Barrie Mitchell – is available for £2.00 including postage and packing. The Best of EFA #1 is available for £3.25 including postage and packing. All other issues are now completely sold out! Please make cheques, postal orders payable to: IAN WHEELER
SUBSCRIPTIONS Cartoon by Gerry Embleton
The 13th Floor for our spooky 13th issue! NEXT ISSUE... Remembering Richard Sheaf recalls spooky and scary stories from Eagle and we recall the short-lived horror comic Scream and examine the possibilities for its revival. That's all wrapped up in a special 13th Floor cover by Martin Baines. Issue 13 – available for Hallowe’en 2005!
To order the nest issue is £2 or £7 for the next four. This does not include any “Best Of” Compilations Please make cheques, postal orders payable to: IAN WHEELER
HOOKJAW COLLECTED! Spitfire Comics is to publish a collection of Hookjaw stories from the archives of the once-controversial British comic Action in Spring 2006. Inspired by the success of the Jaws book and subsequent films, Hookjaw centred on the story of a great white shark, whose terror was substantially increased by the acquisition of an enormous spear hook embedded in the monster's jaws. Written by Ken Armstrong and Action's creator Pat Mills and illustrated by Ramon Sola, Hookjaw was much more gory than its inspiration, with more flesh-ripping and definitely more bone-crunching! In fact so much more gore that the strip and the comic in which it featured back in the mid-1970s was considered a moral outrage by the likes of the Evening Standard, the Daily Express and moral crusader Mary Whitehouse, who all accused the comics publishers of corrupting to the nation's youth. The controversy resulted in the title's suspension in October 1976, despite huge sales of around 160170,000 a week, and subsequent re-launch in a much diluted form some two months later. Sales fell away and the comic eventually merged with Battle. The Action material is now owned by the Egmont Group, and publishers Spitfire – a division of the Paisley-based Superhero Mediastore – hope further classic releases will be forthcoming from the deal. Spitfire's website is asking for fans’ choice of reprint, which includes choices such as the classic Johnny Red from Battle. Collected Hookjaw Volume 1 is due to be released in Spring 2006 and will consist of the first two chapters of the collected stories, comprising of over 100 pages, which are currently being professionally restored and cleaned, with the book being perfect bound in gloss card covers, similar to the quality of the 2000AD collections initially published by Titan and now Rebellion. "I think it's a great idea," Pat Mills told Eagle Flies Again of the A plane crash at sea provides a light snack for Hookjaw. reprint plans. "I wish them well...There seems to be real interest in the Battle/Action/2000AD nostalgia market from 30 somethings right now." Pre-orders are currently being taken at the Spitfire Comics web site and the book will also be solicited to comic shops through Diamond Distribution and at online stores, such as Amazon. Web Links • Spitfire Comics: www.SpitfireComics.co.uk • For a terrific online history of Action comic, visit www.sevenpennynightmare.co.uk
TOXIC TURNS 50 Egmont's TOXIC comic is celebrating its 50th issue, released 31 August. TOXIC seems to have been quite a success for Egmont. When it was launched in October 2002 it was a gamble: a magazine trying to capture the elusive boy's market, with features on the latest DVDs, toys, PC games, football, with an irreverent tone of modern "gross out" humour. The gamble paid off. Team TOXIC, originally a strip running across the foot of four pages swiftly upgraded to a regular twopage strip, and other strips such as Rex and Pig Brother were soon added to the mix. TOXIC's four-weekly schedule shifted to three-weekly after a year, and the start of 2005 saw it become a fortnightly. Rival magazines have also appeared, such as Panini's Marvel Rampage, which is very much in the TOXIC mold, but without the toilet humour. It could also be said that The Dandy's 2004 revamp owes a little to TOXIC's influence too, with the introduction of fart gags and 'Team Dandy' to the veteran comic. “I'm a massive comic fan and planned for them to be included from day one,” says TOXIC’ editor Matt Yeo. “I was adamant that we should have regular comic content in there, although there was internal resistance and I used to hear the same old argument of ‘kids don't like comics...’, ‘kids don't read comics...’ “Comics always struggle in the UK to be seen as something other than a juvenile kids' medium,” feels Matt. “But children are smart and enjoy comics for what they are. And I think that has a lot to do with TOXIC's success. We never talk down to our readers and always produce a magazine that they'd want to read, not one we think they should be reading... “I have a lot of respect for British comics history,” Matt adds, revealing that in addition to the current strips “there are more on the way soon...” (Continued overleaf)
19 years ago, IPC's Oink! comic outraged parents and retailers with its toilet humour and was shifted away from the children's section by one major chain of newsagents. Perhaps Oink! was ahead of its time, because today TOXIC, for all its jokes about bodily functions, can be found acceptably displayed in the comics rack of Tescos and Asda. Even The Beano now features Dennis the Menace's kid sister Bea flinging smelly nappies at her victims! Despite the milestone issue, Matt and his team are not resting on their laurels. “We'll pull out all the stops to deliver something special for issue #100!,” Matt laughs. “My team and I are all very passionate about producing the most entertaining, fun, crazy kids magazine that we can and reader research and feedback plays a big part in that. “We're also always trying to stay two steps ahead of the competition (of which there is plenty now) and have a few tricks up our sleeve that will be revealed soon.” • Read an interview with TOXIC editor Matt Yeo on www.downthetubes.net
DREDD CON VI DATE CONFIRMED Dredd Con VI will be held on Saturday 1 October 2005 at the Oxford Union Society. Dreddcon VI will open at 10am and run until 5.30pm.
BRITISH TALENT INVADES FRANCE Top British creator Pat Mills is helping British talent get a foothold in the French market. Mills, co-creator of 2000AD, has been writing such titles as Requiem: Vampire Knight for publisher Nickel some time. Book Six, with art by Olivier Ledroit is due out in November 2005. But he's also working on another title, Broz, with art by Adrian Smith. Book Two due out in November 2005. "Adrian Smith is known from his work on Warhammer and is a Brit artist," Mills told EFA, "so it's a positive step forward to have Brit writer and artist working for France. Requiem seems to have been a great success for Nickel but sadly has yet to find an English publisher (the strip ran in Heavy Metal for a while but not a complete run). The story centres on a soldier who thinks he has died on the Russian Front during World War two. Instead, he finds himself on Resurrection, a nightmarish planet and becomes Requiem, Vampire Knight, and begins to look for his lost love, Rebecca. Meanwhile, he finds himself drawn into a cosmic conflict between strange gods and in which he may be the key…
DOOMLORD RETURNS! One of the problems about re-reading your old Eagles is that the more you read them, the more worn-out they become. This is a particular problem with the non-glossy issues which were printed on thin, rather poor quality paper. The answer to this problem is to release compilations of the most popular Eagle stories. Usually, this falls to a big publisher like Titan who have enjoyed great success with their Dan Dare and Charley's War volumes. But Eagle fan David McDonald has now entered the fray with a licensed collection of the first drawn Doomlord story – and he's done an absolutely brilliant job. Doomlord was a shape-changing alien, long before the term 'morphing' became part of the science-fiction landscape, who travelled to Earth with the task of judging mankind but, instead of destroying them as his masters intended, grew to care for humans and became their protector against a plethora of other alien menaces. This first volume of Doomlord adventures features the popular Deathlords of Nox story in which the aforementioned Deathlords are sent by the Council of Nox to destroy Doomlord for failing to carry out his mission to destroy mankind. Writer Alan Grant, freed of the practical restraints of the earlier photographic stories, is able to have Doomlord transform into everything from a bird to a dog! With a superb, glossy, photographic cover and excellent reproduction throughout, this is a lavish, highly collectable compilation. The collection includes a reminder of the first three photographic Doomlord stories to get people up to speed, which is useful for anyone lacking those issues. There's one minor problem – an episode is missing, but this was due to an oversight on the editor's part (David tells me he scanned the strips from the Best of Eagle specials which themselves excluded that episode, in which Doomlord makes an unannounced appearance at a New Year party, much to the surprise of the attending guests!). In actual fact, the flow of the story is surprisingly uninterrupted. It's great that someone is willing to invest their own time and money into keeping the memory of Doomlord alive. If you care about New Eagle's memory, then please support this book. Ian Wheeler
Doomlord: The Deathlords of Nox costs £5 plus 79p P&P, available from: David McDonald, Cappagh, Castlebar, Co.Mayo, Ireland Please make cheques or postal orders payable to David McDonald A new vampire book by Mills, Claudia, with art by Frank Tacito is now being published, with Book Two out in 2006. • Unofficial Requiem Fan Site: www.trollmaane.net/requiem
TITAN’S CLASSIC COMIC REPRINTS CONTINUE Although its publication was slightly delayed, Titan Books first collection of The Spider comics (reported last issue) should now be on sale. The company has several other reprints in the pipeline as well as more original Wallace & Gromit stories from a variety of creators, tying in with the release of Aardman Animations first Wallace & Gromit feature, Curse of the Were-rabbit (a new comic is also being launched, with some new strip in September, from sister
company Titan Magazines, edited by Steve White). Included in the new releases are Dan Dare: Operation Saturn Part Two by Frank Hampson (also out now); James Bond: The Spy Who Loved Me; collections of
The Real Ghostbusters from the fondlyremembered 1980s Marvel UK comic; and the eagerly awaited first collection of Steel Claw stories, The Steel Claw: The Vanishing Man, due on 23 September, with a stunning new cover by Brian Bolland.
hen most fans talk about British science fiction comics today, it’s characters such as Dan Dare, Judge Dredd and the Transformers that probably first spring to mind, along with comics such as Eagle, TV21 and 2000AD. But science fiction and fantasy heroes have a rich history in British comics, although the genre didn’t really come to the fore until the 1950s. The first true science fiction hero is probably Denis McLoughlin’s Swift Morgan, first published by T.V. Boardman in 1948: but even before the Second World War there were comics heroes with science-imbued abilities. The stories of Derickson Dene, Super-Inventor, a scientist and adventurer, ran briefly in 1939 – 1940, in Amalgamated Press’ Triumph, with titles such as Derickson Dene in Sabotage and War. Prior to this, DC Thomson featured text stories in Rover featuring super-powered characters, such as Invisible Dick – a schoolboy who sniffed a bottle of ancient Egyptian liquid (the product of ancient Egyptian science?) to turn invisible – way back in 1922. There’s probably little chance of a hero sniffing mysterious bottles these days. (In the 1960s, when Invisible Dick returned in the fondly-remembered Sparky, his invisible powers were the result of owning a torch with a black beam that made things invisible). The pre-war years also saw publication of characters such as Waldo the Wonder Boy, a super strong schoolboy in 1929, and The Flaming Avenger – an inventor and owner of a radio shop who created an armoured suit with a built in flame thrower – in 1933. But science fiction comics per se were still rare. It’s probably fair to say that the Daily Mirror’s Garth, a super strong time traveller whose adventures spanned past, present and future, was the first long-running British SF comic strip. First published in 1943, artists on the strip, which ran until 1997, included John Allard, Frank Bellamy and Martin Asbury. The newspaper strip proved a success for decades, although the character evolved over time. Syndicated across the globe, there’s often been talk of a big screen version of the hero, but a although there has been discussion of a revival of Garth, fans are still waiting. The 1940s saw a huge number of superhero characters, filling a gap left by the lack of availability of US superhero titles because of the war. Many of these proved short-lived, but characters such as Hotspur’s Iron Teacher – a superstrong robotic tutor with an energy weapon built into its eyes – proved a long-running success, although the character didn’t become a comic strip until 1972. Strips such as the Beano’s Iron Fish – submarines piloted by two school children – first appeared in 1949, but it is Dennis McLoughlin’s Swift Morgan which marks the decade for SF comics fans, first published in 1948. The strip appeared in a 12page rotogravure comic that also featured Mcloughlin’s Roy Carson detective strip and, later, Buffalo Bill. The 1950s saw the arrival of science fiction
John Freeman delves into the often weird but unforgettable past glories of British comics to highlight some of the best SF and fantasy strips and comics...
Robot Archie: born in the 1950s, revived in 2005 for DC Comics Albion mini series.
heroes that have proven more enduring. Dan Dare featured in the Eagle and has been revived more than once, as well as featuring in a recent animated series. The 1950s Marvelman may have had more ridiculous stories than those penned by Alan Moore for Warrior when he revived the character in the 1980s, but they were read by more people than Dez Skinn’s brilliant but short-lived anthology title ever was. Then there’s Robot Archie, who first appeared in Lion in 1952, now being revived by DC Comics in Albion; and Jet Ace Logan ran in Comet from 1956. The strip survived a merger with Tiger in 1959 and has been republished in many foreign editions. Spurred by the huge popularity of science fiction on film and televisions, the 1960s saw a veritable explosion of SF strips, and superhero-styled characters abounded. TV21
The much-missed Garth, from the Daily Mirror
comic undoubtedly led the way, a title that expanded on Gerry Anderson puppet series such as Stingray, Thunderbirds and Captain Scarlet and featured the stunning art of Mike Noble, Frank Bellamy, Ron Embelton and many others. In addition to a spell on Fireball XL5 for TV 21, Don Lawrence was drawing The Trigan Empire for Look and Learn – for me, the only reason to be buying that magazine – and strips such as The Steel Claw, Brian’s Brain, Mytek the Mighty and Kelly’s Eye ran in a variety of comics titles. Even the humour comics were peppered with SFstyled heroes: Doctor Who appeared as an adventure strip in TV Comic, while characters such as Sparky’s brilliant I Spy strip and Odhams Grimly Fiendish, are unforgettable. TV shows were to prove an inspiration for many a science fiction strip from the 1960s onwards. Star Trek appeared in the short-lived Joe 90 comic, the strip surviving mergers with TV21 and, later Valiant. Look-In, the “Junior TV Times”, debuted in 1971: down the years, it featured two page strips featuring shows such as Sapphire and Steel, written by Angus P. Allan and beautifully drawn by Arthur Ranson; the Bionic Woman by John Bolton and The Six Million Dollar Man; Space: 1999, The Tomorrow People and Robin of Sherwood. But with the beginning of the 1970s, SF comics seemed at a low ebb: Eagle was long gone, merged with Lion, and the fabulous Countdown, featuring new strips inspired by Gerry
Anderson’s UFO alongside Doctor Who and some TV 21 reprints, proved short lived. It became TV Action after just a year of publication, putting emphasis on strips based on police action shows that dominated television at the time. On the independent scene, Bryan Talbot enjoyed kudos for The Adventures Luther Arkwright, an adventurer across parallel worlds, one of the first graphic novels ever published in the UK. Superheroes continued to be popular, thanks to the arrival on Marvel UK in the early 1970s. Despite the continued success of fantasy strips in many girls comics, it wasn’t until the launch of 2000AD in 1977 that science fiction was put well and truly back on the boys adventure comics map. The well written title introduced its fans – some still reading the comic today – to the likes of Judge Dredd, a more anti-hero styled Dan Dare and the time travelling terrors of strips such as Flesh. Starlord followed soon after, although its better quality paper seemed to count against it and the comic merged with 2000AD, bringing the likes of Strontium Dog to its pages. Over at Marvel
Psychotic cyborg Pressbutton, drawn by Steve Dillon. Pressbutton first appeared in music paper Sounds before a run in the classic anthology title Warrior.
UK, the company had great success with Star Wars and Planet of the Apes – the latter proving so popular it out lasted its American counterpart, leading to publication of strips from the US comic Killraven re-drawn with apes heads stuck on the heads of the lead characters. MUK’s Dez Skinn launched Doctor Who Weekly in 1979 – and the modern Doctor Who Magazine still publishes a comic strip to this day. The 1980s saw the launch of Warrior, which, despite its short run – it ran for under 30 issues – proved a springboard for many creators into the US comics market. MUK had considerable success with Transformers and other licensed titles such as Thundercats and The Real Ghostbusters, while IPC relaunched Eagle – the inspiration for this fanzine – and published its own licensed SF comics, such as MASK. We should not forget the creeping horror of Scream!, either, which included SF themes in many of its strips. Declining comics sales in the 1990s brought a sad end to every boys adventure comic, with only 2000AD and Judge Dredd: The Megazine surviving into 2005.
Zoids, one of Marvel UK’s licensed comics, drawn here by Jeff Anderson. Writers on the strip included Grant Morrison. Yes, that Grant Morrison.
Web Links General sites www.internationalhero.co.uk This excellent site charts the development of non-US comics heroes with plenty of potted biographies of many British characters, right back to the 1920s.
www.bbc.co.uk/cult/comics/features/serious_comics.shtml Former 2000AD editor David Bishop’s short guide to modern British adventure comics. Whether this site will survive the ongoing cull of the BBC’s cult pages for much longer remains to be seen.
2000AD Online www.2000adonline.com Sapphire and Steel, drawn by Arthur Ranson, from a 1979 Look-In story
Despite Rebellion’s continued support for 2000AD and its associated titles, and Titan Magazines continued publication of reprint Star Wars and Futurama Comics, it seems unlikely any publisher will risk launching a new science fiction adventure comic onto the British news stand today, although small press SF-inspired titles such as Spaceship Away, the anthology title Omnivistascope and many others abound. Unfortunately sales remain small despite frequent online promotion and the support of Comics International. All mainstream publishers face massive distributor resistance to new comics titles unless they are prepared to invest heavily in marketing and pay for shelf space – which effectively puts paid to making a new comic a lasting success. The high cost of marketing a new title, in competition with the games companies and other media brands vying for teenagers’ pocket money, also seems to prohibit such projects. Unless there is a seed change in the way publishers can reach their potential audience, the days of science fiction comics seem consigned to memory – and celebration in fanzines such as Eagle Flies Again...
The official website of "The Galaxy's Greatest Comic", 2000AD. As well as the full rundown on every writer and artist who's ever slaved for Tharg, there are also profiles of every single character, a massive Dredd Zone, and details of every prog. Also on the site are strips to read online, downloadable wallpaper, games, screensavers and the like, a fan-fiction area and guidelines to submitting your own work to 2000AD.
Garth www.tegneserier.org/indexer/mb_eng.html A list of Garth (and Modesty Blaise) strips, including artist and writer credits
Above: Garth by Frank Bellamy Below: Swift Morgan
Jeff Hawke www.jeffhawke.com This Italian web site has an English language alternative detailing the adventures of the popular character from the Daily Express, created by Sydney Jordan. Knight Features (www.knightfeatures.com) still offer Jeff Hawke for syndication around the globe today.
Swift Morgan www.leylander.org/intercom/DenisMc A site dedicated to the work of artist Dennis McLoughlin (1917 – 2002), once described as a “one man art department” and perhaps best known for Swift Morgan, the Roy Carson detective series and the Western title Buffalo Bill.
Brian Bolland said, ‘If you have not encountered the aliens in Jeff Hawke you have not lived!’ Dave Gibbons, similarly, loved the Jeff Hawke strips, illustrated by Sydney Jordan, and persuaded his parents to buy the newspaper in which it was featured. Alan Davis also describes Jordan’s science fiction vision as ‘something never seen before in comics’. Sydney Jordan is one of the true greats of British comics. The artist, a native of Dundee, he’s perhaps best known as the creator of Jeff Hawke “the world’s longest science fiction newspaper strip”, published in the Daily Express, and Lance McLane for the Daily Record. Both comic strips were syndicated around the world. Since the conclusion of the Lance McLane strip, Jordan has been involved in many projects including Time and Miss Jones, film storyboarding and work for magazines such as Analog, New Scientist, Nuclear Free Scotland and World Magazine.
Martin Baines chats with the co-creator of Jeff Hawke, which appeared in the Daily Express for many years until 1974 and has been translated and published in countries all over Europe...
EAGLE FLIES AGAIN: Your first commercial work was the strip Dora, Tony and Liz, which appeared in the Scottish Sunday Mail in 1951. The following year, you moved to London where you worked alongside Jim Holdaway, the artist on Modesty Blaise. What was Jim like and what sort of work did you produce with him? SYDNEY JORDAN: Dora, Tony and Liz was an important debut for me as it gave me some idea of what it is like to work to deadlines! When I was fortunate enough to be taken up by a small studio in the Strand, the BayleySouster Group and met Jim and worked with him on a series of comics sponsoring fitness through exercise, a kind of Charles Atlas regimen for body-building. It was a chastening experience! Jim drew with such skill, clarity and style and with apparently effortless draftsmanship that my early efforts seemed lumpen and graceless by comparison. In 1953, he drew a special comic to mark the coronation of Elizabeth II and his rendering of the procession to the Abbey was simply stunning. His unique style brought Modesty Blaise to vibrant life after his newspaper debut with Romeo Brown placed him in the ranks of the great. He died too young. EFA: In 1954, you submitted an idea for a science fiction strip, which turned into Jeff Hawke. Why do you think the strip was commissioned? I have mentioned elsewhere that in 1954 the Daily Express had Lord Beaverbrook's son, (Sir Max Aitken} on the editorial board along with Hugh Dundas. Both of them had fought in the Battle of Britain, during which Dundas' brother John was killed. I think the slightly serious aspect of the strip and its obvious familiarity with RAF procedure and aircraft, was enough to raise their interest. Remember, the war had only been won nine years before.
Survival, drawn by Colin Andrew, published in 1960.
EFA: What inspired or influenced the look and design of Jeff Hawke? SYD: My interest in aircraft, which was instrumental in my having studied at Miles Aircraft's technical school just after the war, coupled with a love of literature and storytelling, led me to think in terms of a technically accurate adventure strip with a sciencefiction core. The work of writers like Ray Bradbury and A. E. Van Vogt inspired me to look for the 'otherness' in things and the cinematic artwork of Alex Raymond's Rip Kirby and Milton Caniff's Steve Canyon pointed the way to achieving a realism which would lend credibility to the slightly off-centre nature of the sci-fi stories. EFA: After a couple of years, you started to collaborate with the scriptwriter, Willie Patterson on Jeff Hawke during what Italian fans of the strip regard as the golden age of the comic strip. How did you first meet and what do you think was the reason for this successful period? SYD: Willie and I first met when he moved to a house near my home in Perth to which my family had moved from Dundee just a few months before. We could so easily have missed one another! We struck up a friendship through common interests and even at the tender age of 12 he displayed an emerging intellect that was, to say the least, precocious! Together we explored the worlds of archaeology, music, art and literature as well as the embryonic science of rocketry. Eventually, we both took the road to the south where the Miles Aircraft company with government backing, had established an aeronautical college for aspiring aircraft
A panel from the Italian version of Hole in Space, drawn by Syd, published in 1967.
Sydâ€™s work for the story Chacondar! published in 1970
An episode of what Syd Jordan describes as the “outlandish” story about the god, Pan, Sitting Tennants, published in 1972
Another panel from the Italian version of Hole in Space, drawn by Syd, published in 1967.
designers. Exposure to the salubrious environs of a small Berkshire aerodrome and billeted in a splendid country house, our perception of life as a glorious adventure full of possibilities, was given a major boost after the years of wartime austerity in Scotland. Our literary education a hallmark of Scottish schooling at that time, was thus augmented by the physical experience of living with fellow students
from many countries, some of whom had actually escaped death from Hitler's gas chambers. EFA: Who has influenced your artwork and your writing? SYD: When I began working with Bill McCail in his little studio in Dundee in 1950, I met a number of artists who were either ex D.C Thomson men as he was, or
Shorty’s Secret, drawn by Martin Asbury, published in 1972
still working for that celebrated publishing house. Friendly and helpful, they helped me to handle the problems of comic strip drawing. Bill's business partner, Len Fullerton, was a formidable wildlife artist but had also ventured into Flash Gordon territory with a strip entitled Argo Under The Ocean. This he drew, in the Alex Raymond style, and I soon began to collect Raymond's Rip Kirby strips appearing in the Daily Mail at that time. Raymond's photographic accuracy and economy of line, influenced my style from there on and was the yard-stick with which I measured my own efforts. D.C Thomson, had a group of writers before and after the war, who were masters of their craft. Their stories were ingenious, wellpaced and beautifully written in terms of comic book literature. I was brought up on them and their influence never left me. Later, Ray Bradbury's 'left field' approach to science fantasy and before him, the works of H. G Wells, William Hope Hodgeson (The House On The Borderland), Poe, Bram Stoker and the many volumes of the 'creepy story' type tales which I gathered in the 1950's, all opened a window into the bizarre and exotic. EFA: Apart from the time you worked with Patterson, you wrote, unlike most British artists, your own stories. What was your favourite and why? SYD: I think that Sitting Tenants was a story which, considering the outlandish premise, worked better than I thought it would when I started it. The notion of an extra-terrestrial landlord calling a halt to Mankind's tenure of Earth was pretty wild but it allowed me to
Brian Bolland’s work for the final Jeff Hawke story Heir Apparent.
comment on everything from 'green' issues through the occult to an ending which brought in a burst of English poetry, Elizabeth Barratt Browning's chilling take on the Great God Pan's attitude to Humanity: A Musical Instrument. EFA: Jeff Hawke lasted throughout the ever-changing decade of the 1960s. What techniques did you employ to maintain the freshness and innovative appeal of the strip? SYD: Spaceflight technology spurred on by America's determination to put a man on the moon by 1969, provided the constant updating of hardware design for tales like Moonstruck, Rogue Star and The Day The Moon Nearly Exploded. But the main run of 1960's stories was based on the encounter with aliens or earthbound adventures involving past happenings and their present consequences or scientific anomalies and, in the case of Chacondar!, a mixture of modern hitech, myth and unabashed fantasy! EFA: During the 1950s and 1960s, there were many other pieces achieving fame at the same time – Garth, James Bond, Modesty Blaise, Romero Brown, The Seekers to name but a few. What was your opinion of the rival strips and in what ways did your work differ? SYD: Garth came with a long and distinguished pedigree and in a way was the only other daily strip to deal in fantasy like Hawke. Steve Dowling, Frank Bellamy and Martin Asbury all bright a dynamism to the stories with their sure line and dramatic layout. James Bond was always going to be a winner because of the successful films, but John McLusky's realisation of Bond set the stark, slightly sinister style of line work that was later taken up and formalised by Jaroslav Horak, complimenting the movies perfectly. Romeo Brown and Modesty Blaise, created by the incomparable story-teller Peter O'Donnell were formidable rivals, not least because of Jim Holdaway's extraordinary power. Later The Seekers, drawn by one of Britain's most accomplished artists in the field, John Burns brought a more science fiction element in and combined it with Bond-like adventures. And what girls! I should add that Matt Marriot by Tony Weare, Gunlaw by Harry Bishop and Wes
Slade by George Stokes all bought the Old West to life with superb renderings of horses, primitive townships and, of course, the gunslinging villains and heroes of that shortlived but violent era. And, Gary Keane's Focus On Fact and many sports series showed how photographic realism can still be achieved with elegant yet graphic pen work. All of these features presented me with enough competition to 'keep me honest' as the motor-racing fraternity say and they represent the golden age of British newspaper strips. When Jeff Hawke ended you were invited to launch Lance McLane for the Daily Record. What were the differences and aims of this strip in contrast to your previous work? Lance McLane was born Lance McLaird but for some reason the Daily Record changed his name to something confusingly similar to Maclean in Hawke! I realised that a simple cloning of Hawke would raise difficulties with both papers and decided on a (then) more fashionable scenario, that of Earth at the end of her tether. With the protagonists operating from a Star Trek-like ship, the stories could be made 'harder' and more violent in the manner of the burgeoning American comic scene. I always regarded Hawke as the archetypal Englishman – able, gentlemanly and with unshakable integrity. Lance McLane's world didn't allow for that and although as a 'space surgeon' he did have a moral stance, he sometimes had to make draconian decisions. EFA: Theyen Rich, who later worked with
Counsel for the Defence published in 1961
you on Dan Dare, helped you with Lance McLane. How did you two first meet and in what ways did you divide the work between you? SYD: I first met Theyen hitching a lift on one of the very few Saturdays I drove to London from Surrey. Looking back, it was a remarkably improbable encounter and proved to be the beginning of a long association in which I watched his early promise develop into a strong imaginative style all his own, in spite of having to keep to the general look of the strip. His father is an artist and he comes from a talented family and what he brought to the strip was the energy and modernity of his generation. Here I must add that it was Paul Neary, one of Britain's most able comic book illustrators that helped form the look of McLane in the first years. His line work is strong, accurate and very modern and the intelligence he brought to bear on both story and artwork were formidable. EFA: Other artists such as Brian Bolland, Colin Andrew and Martin Asbury have also occasionally helped you. What were your reasons for using them and what do you now think of their versions? SYD: Colin Andrew whom I first met at Bill McCail's studio in 1951, was part of a group of artist friends who gathered around the studio that Brian Lewis, Gary Keane, George Stokes and myself set up in Shoe Lane off Fleet Street in the 1960's. Colin's a master of black and white using subtle cross-hatching where I would use the rather more mechanical Letratone. His rendering of the aliens in 'Survival' is eerily convincing and his characterisations are superb. (Could Murphy be anything other than an Irishman with eyes and hair like that). He is the man whom I described as someone who gives you ' wall-to-wall' drawing and is one of those maddening (to me!) artists who looks as if he is simply running over an invisible tracing which his mind has imprinted on the page!! His colour illustrations of historical incidence are simply stunning... Brian Bolland? What can one say? Here is someone who worked patiently away on his art until he had breached the walls of Xanadu itself – the great bastion that is American Comicdom! His intricate fulsome artwork has graced the covers of so many US publications and brought a contemporary
what was the strip about? SYD: Time and Ms Jones was the brainchild of Marise Morland a friend of Theyen's who I subsequently met. The idea is that Elvira Jones lives in the 23rd century, a time when women are the dominating gender and men somewhat wimpish! Time travel is a reality but is strictly controlled. Elvira persuades a young and adoring TT engineer to build her a personal machine to meet some of the powerful and charismatic men of the past and occasionally right some small wrong which won't upset the time stream. The strip ran in the Funday Times for seven months in 1988 but I suspect the content was becoming to adult for that publication. But she'll be back!!
look to the two Titan reprints of my work, ensuring an instant response from those who otherwise might never have seen Jeff Hawke. I rather think he enjoyed working on Hawke's aliens himself and again, his powerful three-dimensional artwork stands out in the Heir Apparent story without losing the look and flow of the rest. Martin Asbury is another artist to whom I owe a debt of gratitude. At a juncture when I was in the need of spare time he filled the breach with beautiful artwork which fitted seamlessly into the story (Shorty’s Secret). Like the other mentioned above, he didn't stint on anything, took no shortcuts and gave as much to Hawke as he would have given his own creation. He too is a warrior who has tackled every kind of comic work with distinction and has made a name for himself in the world of film storyboarding – a demanding and exhausting business. I even persuaded John Bolton to bring his lovely fluid figure work to a section of Lance McLane and I am flattered to think that he and his fellow 'ghosters' thought enough of the strip to associate themselves with it in this way. I would love to have had the inimitable Dave Gibbons join the ranks with his sure,
powerful and dramatic line and Alan Davis whose work, like Dave's, so well challenges the best of the American comic masters. They and the generation after them, have taken comic and graphic novel art to new levels of brilliance and I find myself learning still, each time I see their work. All of the 'ghosters' gave me respite from what was an ongoing treadmill. What I also admire about them is that they organised their workload in a way that I found difficult – I always said I was a writer who can draw a bit.
EFA: Since then you have been working on film storyboards and scripts, how have you adapted to the differences that this new medium entails? SYD: I have said elsewhere that I never found drawing easy and that writing is more natural to me, possibly because of that literary education I mentioned. Script-writing for films is obviously more complex than writing for comics because of the demands of timing, characters which have to be more fully realised and perhaps most importantly the absence of a captive audience (until you win your first Oscar!) There are egos to circumvent and an army of people whose job it is to keep you from getting near the Spielbergs of this world. That doesn't mean to say that comic writers can't make it into movies. Storyboarding demands speed an eye for camera angles and a knowledge of cinematic do's and don'ts. I actually ghosted my boards for Trevor Goring in L.A sending the pencils by fax from him to draw over in his more open style. In this way we covered The Tin Cup, Independence Day, Terms of Endearment etc and I found it quite exhilarating. I had previously worked on advertising boards for him and at Helicopter Studios in Soho so I knew what to do but it was difficult to move from the tight photographic drawing of the strip to the loose economic style which the work requires.
EFA: Lance McLane was later syndicated as Jeff Hawke around the world. How did you amalgamate these strips? SYD: When the Daily Express syndication department realised they were running out of stories for their long term clients, I said they could use the McLane stuff, suitably doctored. I am afraid with 'one great leap' time and I simply had Hawke fall into another dimension through an accident aboard his ship! I started by taking of McLane's beard but in the end, settled for a simple change of names and text.
EFA: During 1996, the Planet on Sunday launched Dan Dare for one issue. What were your first impressions when you took control of this strip? SYD: I knew from the outset that neither the time nor the money would allow for the kind of marvellous reprise of Frank Hampson's fantastic artwork which Don Harley has produced but I thought I might score in terms of the story. I was working to bring back all the familiar characters and started with Digby and of all people Flamer Spry in a love affair with a vintage Spitfire! I am sure that Theyen and I would have tightened things up in terms of quality – the second and third pages were beginning to show that. As I said at the time, Frank's Dan Dare is a hard act to follow!!
EFA: Tell us a bit about Time and Miss Jones; where and when did it appear and
EFA: The pages you have drawn so far depict a Dan Dare vastly different from
Frank Hampson’s creation – would you agree? What research did you use to create this version? SYD: Inevitably, my take on a new Dan Dare was going to be influenced by the more freewheeling nature of the Hawke stories. I looked at the Revolver version and thought it a little disrespectful but wickedly funny and the idea of the Treens being absorbed into the human fold was appealing. EFA: You worked with Theyen – what work on the Dan Dare strip was he responsible for? SYD: The work was pretty much divided equally, with Theyen bracing himself for the drawing of a London vastly different from anything seen before! EFA: How would the story have progressed if it had continued? SYD: We were hoping to produce a plausible reason for the joining of forces of Earthlings and Treens and had in mind a threat from galactic space so terrible that the solar system itself was endangered (phew)! EFA: Now that Spaceship Away is publishing Dan Dare, are there any plans to relaunch this strip? SYD: It’s possible – and I think our version would be sufficiently different from the more traditional stories and style to avoid any sense of repetition. Spaceship Away gives such a startlingly authentic reincarnation of the old Eagle pages that once again I would approach the idea with respectful care. EFA: In the last two years, publishers have started to reprint old British strips. What do you think of the Titan book compilations of, for example, Dan Dare, Modesty Blaise and James Bond, and would this be a possible option for the reprinting of Jeff Hawke? SYD: Titan Books gave me the chance to speak to my fans in a way that had eluded me before. Now with the publication of Jeff Hawke's Cosmos, the fan club magazine, not only do I get to prattle on in its pages but the stories are being reprinted in their entirety and contributors such as Steve Holland and Duncan Lunan discuss strips and comics in the science fiction pantheon and, in Duncan's case, current astronomical and space flight news as well as critiques of the Hawke stories as they appear. The Italians have just published a five-story volume in their La Republica series. So Hawke still lives! EFA: At the moment, what are you now working on and what future projects can we expect to see? SYD: I’m currently putting together an idea for a 12-part 'strange stories' type of comic with a super-science backdrop but with a Dickensian beginning and a far-future finish.
Web Links JordanSpace www.fumetti.org/jordan/en/jhenfram.htm Published in English and Italian, a complete online guide to the strip and its characters.
The Jeff Hawke Fan Club www.jeffhawkeclub.org.uk The British Jeff Hawke fan club was launched in early 2003: Yearly subscription rates are £15 for UK members, £23 for overseas members. You receive three magazines. Each issue of the magazine features serialised strips of the original strips, plus articles and comments by Sydney Jordan. Production values on this fanzine are excellent. Future plans for the club include more annual events, providing an oppourtunity for enthusiasts to meet. Send your cheques made payable to Jeff Hawke club with a stamped addressed envelope to: Jeff Hawke Club, 6 The Close, Alwoodley, Leeds LS17 7RD.
Thanks to Syd for taking the time to talk to Eagle Flies Again.
With Gerry Anderson’s New Adventures of Captain Scarlet generating plenty of excitement in the UK, Shaqui La Visconte reflects on the Century TV 21 comic strip adventures of the original version, drawn by some of the masters of British comic strip art… TV Century 21’s comic strip version of Captain Scarlet and the Mysterons, which debuted in September 1967, was the first new Gerry Anderson television series since the start of TV Century 21, nearly three years previously. Stingray was already halfway through its first UK screening when the comic launched, and Thunderbirds well into production, so TV Century 21 would have had little impact on the making of these series. But when Captain Scarlet debuted, many aspects of Century 21 media – novels, annuals, records and, of course, the TV Century 21 and Lady Penelope comics – were crossing over. It’s interesting to speculate how much the tail had wagged the dog to influence the new series. For a start, Captain Scarlet and the Mysterons is the first (and perhaps the only) puppet series to clearly state the year it is set – 2068 AD – in its opening scenes. One has to wonder if, like Thunderbirds and Zero X before it, the comic strip was originally planned to launch early in 1968, after adequate television exposure and the usual annual reshuffle of strips. Instead – perhaps because the title needed re-promoting – the strip began at the end of September ‘2067’. This brought the continuity of TV Century 21, whose conceit as a “future newspaper” setting all cover stories 100 years in the future, into conflict with its originator, in a similar way the Zero X strip had earlier. But the wheels of pre-publicity for the new
The Angels from Lady Penelope comic – just one ‘prequel’ leading in to the launch of Captain Scarlet and the Mysterons on TV and Century TV 21 in 1967.
Captain Scarlet strip had already been rolling for months, with The Angels, drawn by John Cooper, beginning at the start of the year in Lady Penelope. Was their inclusion in the series format deliberate so a strip could be run, when in so many of the other series, the female leads were almost incidental? Finally, the tone of the television series now seemed to reflect the dry nature of the other main TV Century 21 strips, with little characterisation or humour. Ironically, the strip incarnation of Captain Scarlet would actually treat the format with more consistency and some better dramatic potential. Summer 1967 saw the first major turning point for the comic, with issue 125 of TV Century 21, dateline 10 June, being the first cover to feature a photo from the new series, with the secondary headline Captain Black Heads Expedition. The same issue saw a Spectrum Maximum Security Vehicle sneak into a crime detection feature, under the title ‘armoured police car’. That same week, after a previous ‘report’ about a mysterious plane ‘crash’ appeared in the comic Solo, the publication blamed a ‘hostile agency’ under the name of the Mysterons. The finger, as the first episode succinctly puts it, was on the trigger, and there was no going back, as the film Thunderbirds Are Go! had already established that the flight time to Mars was six weeks. Even so, it took 12 weeks for TV Century 21 to report that Black’s same expedition had been lost, implying that perhaps the ill-fated mission may have been on the red planet for some weeks before their fateful encounter. Meanwhile, strange things had been happening on Earth, with mystery planes (Issue 132) which sometimes attacked fighters (Issue 133) and a large UFO or space station seen over parts of the world, getting a final confirmed sighting for the cover of issue 137. A link was drawn between these and the lost Captain Black, as all three sported the same stylised ‘S’ symbol, which had
Harmony Angel ends up in the sea as the Mysterons attack, in the second part of the first Captain Scarlet and the Mysterons adventure in Century TV 21 in 1967. Art by Ron Embleton.
actually appeared as early as April in The Angels. Full page features revealed this ‘S’ to stand for ‘Spectrum’, tying in with the strip Front Page as TV 21 ‘reporters’ finally uncover the truth. After three weeks, and an amazingly speedy trip from Mars later, Black’s mission returned to Earth, and the
new secret organisation was unveiled in full. The following week, as the tie-in strip started in Issue 141, the cover bore the headline ‘Captain Scarlet and the Mysterons’, with a large photo of a man in a red version of Black’s uniform. The text proclaimed: “This man is Captain Scarlet! According to
Below, top: Captain Scarlet takes no chances dealing with a Mysteron threat to Cloudbase. Below, bottom: Scarlet and Black confront each other once again as the Mysterons threaten Earth. Art by Ron Embleton.
A stunning action sequence by Mike Noble, in one of his first Captain Scarlet strips. Noble recalls that when initially commissioned to work on Captain Scarlet, the intent was to do four colour pages (presumably front, two pages inside and possibly back). However, this would have doubled his workload from his previous strip (Zero X), as well as taking twice as long, and the second and third pages remained black and white.
Spectrum, he is indestructible. This fantastic statement is the conviction of the personnel of the new Spectrum Security Organisation.” After a brief recap of events that would later be seen on TV in The Mysterons, TV 21’s own incredulity was stated. “This is
Spectrum’s story. I don’t believe it. Events will prove who is right.” And prove them they did. With the new show making its debut that week (on its ‘native’ ATV Midlands at least – some regions held back transmission until the new
Although more often associated with Thunderbirds, Frank Bellamy was also called on to draw this icy Captain Scarlet adventure for TV 21.
year), some readers would know the truth. Not to be outdone, in the very first strip Scarlet is killed in a separate prelude – a remarkably clever ploy on the part of the writer – to be resurrected for the story proper. TV 21 was forced to eat its words two issues later, and declare Scarlet ‘Indestructible’ (or, curiously, ‘undestructible’ in the text!) as a headline. Oh wait a minute, ‘Is Scarlet Dead?’ asks the cover of issue 146. No he’s definitely alive, declares issue 148. It was no wonder TV 21 stopped its famous news covers soon after this – it could have gone on like this forever... This change came in the new year, with Captain Scarlet expanding to the first four pages – the first strip since Thunderbirds to have more than two – including the front cover. For some, this move made TV 21 less than the special thing it had been, and like most other comics available. One suspects, as editor Alan Fennell had moved on to been replaced by Chris Spencer, that this was the new editor trying to make his own mark. Editions became colour-coded (e.g. issue 158 is ‘Orange Edition’), and the front-page news stories were transferred to page five to become ‘Stop Press’. This seemed almost a superfluous move, as it must surely have been the news covers that drew attention the comic in the first place. The quality of reporting also seemed to drop, with some rather apalling puns creeping into the mix. With Captain Scarlet now the strip in TV Century 21 Agent Twenty-One, the fictional
Century TV 21: A Potted History Launched in 1965, City Magazines flagship title TV21 (starting out as TV Century 21) is considered one of Britain’s classic comics. It not only featured strips based on some of the 1960s most popular television shows – principally those created by Century 21 Productions headed by Gerry Anderson such as Stingray, Thunderbirds and Captain Scarlet – but humour strips such as My Favourite Martian, Get Smart and The Munsters. The early issues also featured the fondly-remembered standalone The Daleks strip based on the mechanical cyborgs from Doctor Who (The Doctor was unavailable, running instead in Polystyle’s TV Comic). Its success was not just down to the content but the quality of the material. Artists included Frank Bellamy, Mike Noble, Ron Embleton, Don Lawrence, John Cooper and many others, some of whom had worked on Eagle, producing stunning visuals from tightly written scripts from the likes of Angus Allan, Alan Fennell and Tod Sullivan. At its launch the comic was presented as a tabloid-style “future newspaper”, printed on high quality paper and drawing its stories from 100 years in the future. This conceit, featuring attention-grabbing headlines from the 21st Century usually combined with photographs from the Gerry Anderson shows – some shot especially for the comic – gave it a unique appearance and, despite its high cover price compared with other 1960s comics (7d), the title was incredibly successful. At its peak, after the introduction of Thunderbirds, the title was reportedly selling some 630,000 copies per week. For the most memorable part of its run, TV 21 carefully combined all the disparate universes of Gerry Anderson’s shows into one cohesive whole. Despite the obvious differences of the TV shows that inspired them, the comic strips saw no reason why characters from Stingray or Fireball XL5 should not rub shoulders with those featured in Thunderbirds and Captain Scarlet. There were two series of TV21, the first running for 242 issues from 20 January 1965 to 6 September 1969 (but dated 20 January 2065 to 6 September 1969), absorbing TV Tornado in this period, before merging with the short-lived Joe 90 comic, becoming TV 21 and Joe 90. The second series, rebooted with a second Number One issue, ran for 105 issues from 13 September 1969 to 25 September 1971 (but this time carrying the date that it was actually published) before being incorporated into Valiant. By the time the second series of TV21 finished the only strip based on a TV series left in the comic was Star Trek (originally part of the Joe 90 comic line-up), which continued in Valiant. The quality of TV21’s Gerry Anderson strips is so high many have been reprinted many times, in comics such as Countdown and more recent Gerry Anderson-inspired comics including Fleetway Editions 1990s standalone titles, Stingray, Thunderbirds and Captain Scarlet. Sadly, few albums have been published, however. The title’s strong art and storytelling proved an inspiration for many comics creators including myself and is regarded as one of the most collectable British comics, up there with Eagle. (Even if I never won any of their weekly competitions!) John Freeman
One of Ron Embleton’s stunning illustrations used in the end credits of the original Captain Scarlet and the Mysterons. You have too wonder exactly how Scarlet would retrometabolise after being chewed to pieces by sharks though, don’t you.
editor of the comic since its inception, let Colonel White share editorship as Spectrum had a recruitment drive for ‘Shades’ – junior agents who could report Mysteron activities or anything else unusual. The United Kingdom was divided into 12 colour-coded ‘Operational Areas’, each reporting to a
Spectrum Captain. This apparently allowed the TV 21 editorial team to organise letters and competition entries more effectively, though some areas responded more than others, and would lead to an interesting turn of events the following year. It also enabled TV 21 to run a knockout competition of wits
Captains Scarlet and Ochre face rock snakes first seen in the Thunderbirds are Go feature film, in an adventure set on Mars that made plenty of use of TV 21’s own mythology. Art by Mike Noble.
between the Shade regions, to determine which was best. The strip itself would be handled by a rotation of artists. First was Ron Embleton, who oversaw the initial 17 issues and brought a colourful realism to the stories. Embleton, whose other credits include Stingray for Century TV 21, was also responsible for the end title paintings for the series itself, and some frames of the strip echo the flavour of these. TV 21 regular Mike Noble then transferred from Zero X and gave the stories and characters some much need dynamism that the new correctly proportioned puppets of the series lacked. The extra pages required each week also meant the odd story were drawn by ex-Dan Dare artists Keith Watson, who had already contributed a few strips to the 1967 Captain Scarlet annual, and Don Harley. Like previous TV 21 strips, Captain Scarlet prided itself on pushing the boundaries of the format of the series on which it was based. The Mysteron achilles heel of electricity, the use of practical electrode weapons, and Scarlet’s ‘sixth sense’, were used more frequently and consistently. Editor Alan Fennell is reputed to have found the idea of an indestructible hero boring, as there was no jeopardy, and possibly briefed writers to use these dramatic devices to their
fullest. Added to this, and never considered in the series itself, are the attempts by Captain Black to either remove Scarlet as a continuing hindrance to Mysteron plans, or bring him back under their control. Conversely, it is made clear in a few stories Spectrum would like to capture Black alive, and somehow free him from the power of the Mysterons. Throughout, Black himself remains in his Spectrum uniform, which is an interesting decision. The series implies he prefers a covert existence, but TV 21 makes him bolder, and he is able on occasions to convince non-security personnel he is still an active member of Spectrum. It is also stated that there may be many Mysteron agents on Earth at any given time, whereas in the series they were only created as a specific threat to a chosen target. Some stories are inspired – Secret Mission weaves the series into the TV 21 history as Scarlet is used by the Mysterons to assassinate the Bereznik President, but it is his indestructible nature which prevents an impending war as he convinces the military all Spectrum officers are like him. Scarlet’s vow of a personal, as opposed to a professional and military, agenda against the Mysterons as a result of this, promise more for the character, but sadly does not seem to be followed up. However, Scarlet’s conflict with the Mysterons does seem to get personal when up against Captain Black in future installments, although this is probably as much for dramatic reasons than continuity. White Missing (aka Martian Menace) has a similar premise to the TV episode Avalanche, with a mass attack on the Mysteron complex to rid Earth of the threat for once and for all. Likewise, Blue Mysteronised seems developed from the TV story Treble Cross, with Captain Blue successfully passed off as a Mysteron agent. Bluff and counterbluff make this a standout story too, and twin targets give for a bittersweet victory as Spectrum saves one but loses another. As opposed to the usually optimistic endings of other strips, even in the face of massive odds, the Captain Scarlet strip is much darker than its television counterpart from the outset. The thought of Colonel White contemplating suicide with an electrode gun, rather than risk
becoming a Mysteron, gives an idea of the tone of these early stories, one that would not be matched again until Gerry Anderson’s first live-action series, UFO. Unfortunately, the standards showed signs of slipping rather quickly into more fanciful tales, such as Spectrum being forced to use mothballed World War 2 planes in the story Seat of Power. The premise of Ant Attack is interesting, but the story is let down by a somewhat unbelievable solution. Conversely, the premise of an amnesiac Scarlet under Black’s command in San Francisco Incident seems a little contrived, but is worth it for Mike Noble’s art depicting combined Spectrum forces trying to stop the rogue MSV. One has to ponder if this was another
sign of changed editorship and direction for TV 21, and whether the perceived decline would continue. Certainly, scant weeks after Captain Scarlet took the front page as a strip, the size of TV 21 was reduced in size. Despite such an incredible start to this new era, it almost seemed as if TV 21 was starting to burn itself out... Read more about the history of TV 21 on The Gerry Anderson Complete Comic History web site, where this article appears in full. It was compiled with the help of Ronald Kroon, Kim Stevens and Chris Dale. All text © The Gerry Anderson Complete Comic History, and its respective writers. This article is reproduced with kind permission. All images © their respective copyright holders.
Web Links The Gerry Anderson Complete Comic History www.technodelic.pwp.blueyonder.co.uk This terrific site is slowly building into an exhaustive guide to the comics based on Gerry Anderson’s classic science fiction series, including creator interviews, overview features and much more Spectrum Headquarters www.spectrum-headquarters.com Great overviews of both the series and the artists who worked on the Captain Scarlet TV21 strips Graham Bleathman www.grahambleathman.co.uk Cutaway artist Graham Bleathman created many stunning Captain Scarlet-inspired illustrations for Fleetway Editions Gerry Anderson comics which reprinted many of the Century TV 21 strips. Fanderson www.fanderson.org.uk The superb Gerry Anderson fan club also has a web site. Check this for news on Anderson productions, including The New Adventures of Captain Scarlet. Captain Scarlet Official Web Site www.captainscarlet.com
Spectrum works with Stingray’s World Aquanaut Security Patrol to try and foil a Mysteron plot in a special crossover story. Even at Marineville, there are Mysteron agents...
CAPTAIN SCARLET IS INDESTRUCTIBLE! YOU ARE NOT! DO NOT TRY TO EMULATE HIM!
Nick Abadzis, Artist, Publisher, Writer Currently working on: A "real" space graphic novel, due 2006 from new US publisher First: Second Web site: www.nickHugo Tate by Nick Abadzis abadzis.com All-time favourite SF comic character? Toughie... it all hinges on childhood memories, so Ro-Jaws for looks and Doctor Who for brains. What's your favourite SF comic strip that you've worked on? I haven’t worked on many SF strips, and any 2000AD, Marvel or Vertigo scripts I've written have been horror or fantasy. The nearest I got really was working on Luke Kirby and Vector 13 in 2000AD. Luke Kirby was a laugh, if a bit daunting. I got to ink the great Steve Parkhouse and he taught me loads. Which comics artist best known for their SF strip do you most admire? I’m a big Moebius fan but if I was picking a British artist I guess it would have to be Steve Parkhouse, with Dave Gibbons a close second for all the Doctor Who strips he drew that I read when I was a kid... The Tides of Time was awesome! John M. Burns and Mike Noble also deserve honourable mention for all the great TV tie-in strips they drew in Look-In: Timeslip, Space: 1999, The Tomorrow People, The Bionic Woman etc. Do you read science fiction or fantasy? If so, who’s your favourite author? I do and it’s Stephen Baxter, a giant of hard SF who also knows how to write great characters. If you could work on a comic strip based on just one sf television series or film, which would it be? Be a laugh to do some artwork for a Doctor Who strip one day. The return of Doctor Who -- a good or bad idea? At time of writing, the first episode of the new series will be transmitted in four days time. Right now, it feels like a good idea. Is Star Trek dead or just resting? Star Trek has become the McDonalds of TV SF, sadly, and as such a franchise it’s difficult to believe Paramount will ever let it just die. But I hope the powers-thatbe there don’t do any more ill-advised prequels.
Jaspre Bark, Writer
2000AD’s Gronk by Nigel Dobbyn
When we sent out a short questionnaire to many British comics contributors asking them for their views on the best SF comics, we were simply bowled over by the huge response to our appeal! 20
Currently working on: Strontium Dog Novel, Fantasy Novel for Games Workshop, Mr Monster meets Flaming Carrot for A1’s Bojeffries Terror Tome and a host of other things. Web site: www.ttapress.com/discus All-time favourite SF comic character? The Metabaron from the Incal What’s your favourite SF comic strip that you’ve worked on? Autocrats Anonymous for 2000AD. It was voted best strip in the prog. Which comics artist best known for their SF strip do you most admire? There are hundreds, off the top of my head Kev Walker, Herman Huppen, Andreas, Moebius, Enki Bilal and Garry Leach. Which comics writer best known for their sf strip do you most admire? Alejandro Jodorowsky Do you read science fiction or fantasy? If so, who’s your favourite author? Barrington J. Bayley, Philip K Dick and Ursula Le Guin (plus countless others). If you could work on a comic strip based on just one sf television series or film, which would it be? The Twilight Zone. It’s still the scariest, most thought provoking series ever made and Rod Serling is the coolest man to have ever lived.
The return of Doctor Who – a good or bad idea? Definitely a good idea. I didn’t realise I cared at all about it until I got very excited when I saw the trailers. Is Star Trek dead or just resting? Actually I think it’s in a sort of half life or undeath, shambling along like a zombie going through endless re-runs. You know that at any hour of the day someone in some part of the world is watching an episode. They should probably ram a stake through its chest though.
David Bishop, Editor and Writer Currently working on: Writing The Phantom comics for Scandinavia and Australia, writing novels based on 2000AD strips Nikolai Dante and Fiends of the Eastern Front. All-time favourite SF comic character? Judge Dredd What’s your favourite SF comic strip that 2000AD’s Nikolai Dante you’ve worked on? Nikolai Dante. He’s complex, entertaining and has genuine depth. Dante is the sort of character you’d like to meet in real life. Which comics artist best known for their SF strip do you most admire? Carlos Ezquerra. Can tell a story with a few lines, shows great passion for his work and designed such iconic characters as Judge Dredd and Strontium Dog. Which comics writer best known for their SF strip do you most admire? John Wagner. He cocreated many of the great British SF strips of the past 30 years, rarely produces a mediocre script and is just as home writing comedy, action or dramatic stories. Do you read science fiction or fantasy? If so, who’s your favourite author? I rarely get to read for pleasure these days, but I have a fondness for writers like John Christopher and John Wyndham. If you could work on a comic strip based on just one SF television series or film, which would it be? Ultraviolet, Channel 4’s 1990s vampire saga. The show only ran six episodes but had the potential for many, many more stories. It also had a great premise, interesting characters and an interesting look. The return of Doctor Who – a good or bad idea? Good. Is Star Trek dead or just resting? Resting. You can’t kill a franchise, like vampires they always come back eventually.
Neill Cameron, Artist Currently working on: Bulldog Empire, an original British Sci-Fi comics series Web site: www.neillcameron.com All-time favourite SF comic character? Absolutely, without hint of the possibility of a question, the Transformers. I had a wee bit of a giant robot obsession as a child, something I am gleefully rediscovering in adulthood. The Marvel UK Transformers stories by Simon Furman, Will Simpson, Jon Bulldog Empire Ridgway, Barry Kitson et. al were absolutely the coolest things I had ever seen, and pretty much the reason I started drawing comics in the first place. What’s your favourite SF comic strip that you’ve worked on? Bulldog: Empire! It’s just fantastic fun. The writer, Jason Cobley has created in Winston Bulldog and his world a brand new yet genuinely iconic British comics character, somewhere between Dan Dare and Biggles. And then I get to come along and mix in my own giant robot fixation, and... aw, it’s just been great fun to draw and hopefully will be to read! Which comics artist best known for their SF strip do you most admire? Katsuhiro Otomo for Akira, one of the best bits of Science Fiction I’ve ever come across in any medium. Just staggering. Which comics writer best known for their SF strip do you most admire? Katsuhiro Otomo, again! Do you read science fiction or fantasy? If so, who’s your favourite author? Kurt Vonnegut is probably my favourite author full stop, and Slaughterhouse 5 my favourite book, and that has time travel and aliens, so it’s science fiction! If you could work on a comic strip based on just one sf television series or film, which would it be? Ooooh, Doctor Who, because a) it’s just great, and b) ti would be the most fun in the world for an artist – one minute you’re drawing space stations, then Edwardian London, then giant spiders. All with foxy ‘assistants’ running around the middle of it. What’s better than that? The return of Doctor Who – a good or bad idea? So far: a very, very, very, very good idea! Is Star Trek dead or just resting? Either is fine, as long as I don’t have to watch it.
Nigel Dobbyn, Artist Currently working on: Billy the Cat for The Beano Web site: www.nigeldobbyn.com All-time favourite SF comic character? The Gronk from Strontium Dog in 2000AD What’s your favourite SF comic strip that you’ve worked on? Strontium Dogs – Return of the Gronk/ The Darkest Star, written by Garth Ennis, because my teenage years were heavily influenced by reading 2000AD. My artistic development was particularly changed by Carlos Ezquerra. Pre 2000AD, most of my main influences had been American, but the abundance of European artists being used in 2000AD (plus the discovery of Metal Hurlant at about the same time) gave me a new perspective on comic art. Belardinelli, Redondo and Azpiri were all influences, but the greatest of these was Ezquerra, so it was an absolute honour to be allowed to draw the Gronk and to design stuff in the Ezquerra style. I was so keen to keep the character going that I produced a proposal for a solo Gronk series afterwards. Called 101 Gronks, it involved the rescue of Gronks being bred in captivity for their fur. As the series progresses, due to the fragile nature of the Gronks’ constitutions, the title gradually reduces in number! A few survive, though. It would have been great, honest! Sadly, the proposal fell on deaf ears. I asked John Wagner recently if he would ever bring the character back. The answer was a resounding NO!
Rufus Dayglo, Artist Currently working on: A1, Flaming Carrot /Mr Monster team-up All-time favourite SF comic character? Judge Dredd What’s your favourite SF comic strip that you’ve worked on? Judge Giant/ Giant from Harlem Heroes, because I read Harlem Heroes as a kid. Which comics artist best known for their SF strip do you most admire? Mick McMahon, the UK’s greatest artist ever Which comics writer best known for their SF strip do you most admire? John Wagner Do you read science fiction or fantasy? If so, who’s your favourite author? Tim Powers (The Anubis Gates etc.) If you could work on a comic strip based on just one SF television series or film, which would it be? Tron – lightcycles, Moebius design work and computer tanks! The return of Doctor Who – a good or bad idea? Good! Gives us ol’ codgers something to grumble about..."Call that a Cyberman?! In my day..." Is Star Trek dead or just resting? DOA
Which comics artist best known for their SF strip do you most admire? The aforementioned Carlos Ezquerra (although I wish someone would take his computer away), but most of all Mick McMahon, primarily for his work on Ro-Busters and ABC Warriors, but also Slaine – Sky Chariots. Which comics writer best known for their SF strip do you most admire? At the moment, Alan Moore, for his work on America’s Best Comics, particularly Jack B. Quick. Do you read science fiction or fantasy? If so, who’s your favourite author? Iain M. Banks. If you could work on a comic strip based on just one sf television series or film, which would it be? The Fifth Element. There are plenty of opportunities for wacky designs – creatures, vehicles, architecture, costume. I think it would be great fun. The return of Doctor Who – a good or bad idea? It could have gone either way, but from what I’ve seen so far, it’s brilliant. Is Star Trek dead or just resting? As with Doctor Who, it could always be revitalised. Enterprise, though – yawn.
Phil Elliott, Artist Currently working on: Tupelo - 45 Revolutions Per Minute (right) Web site: www.elliott-design.com All-time favourite SF comic character? Moebius’ Airtight Garage What’s your favourite SF comic strip that you’ve worked on? Not really a comic strip, tho’ it did start out as one. I created short animations for the computer magazine, MacFormat, featuring a spacetravelling character called Jonni Starr, who’d originally appeared in a strip written by Darryl Cunningham. I started off with drawn images, which I crudely animated on my computer and then I had a go at some 3D animation. It was all pretty basic stuff but the animations ran, one a month, on the cover CD for almost three years. The animations were something totally different for me, having to get to grips with the computer and unknown software – the 3D stuff, video editing and music sequencers. As I say, it was all pretty basic, but on its own level, quite successful. Which comics artist best known for their SF strip do you most admire? Moebius. The guy’s a huge talent. I still have a fondness for guys like Kirby, Russell, Jeff and Bruce Jones, Neal Adams, Alex Toth, Al Williamson (his work on the Star Wars adaptions is excellent). Stuff that appeared in Star*Reach and Warren in the 70’s. Sydney Jordan, of course. Which comics writer best known for their SF strip do you most admire? Always enjoyed Don Mcgregor. Do you read science fiction or fantasy? If so, who’s your favourite author? Ray Bradbury If you could work on a comic strip based on just one sf television series or film, which would it be? Button Moon. I’d be no good at drawing Star Wars. I know my limitations! The return of Doctor Who – a good or bad idea? I look forward to seeing more. Is Star Trek dead or just resting? I lost interest in Star Trek ages ago. I just couldn’t keep up with all the spin-offs!
Richard Elson, Artist Currently working on: Atavar Book III for 2000AD, a couple of computer games and some other (noncomics) bits and bobs. Web site: www.nigelkitching.plus.com/AHAB All-time favourite SF comic character? The 2000AD’s A.H.A.B. Black Oblong from Kirby’s 2001. What’s your favourite SF comic strip that you’ve worked on? A.H.A.B./Atavar, for 2000AD. Monsters, robots, aliens and deep space; what more could a boy ask for? Which comics artist best known for their SF strip do you most admire? Brendan McCarthy; Britain’s greatest living genius. Which comics writer best known for their SF
strip do you most admire? John Wagner: the Legendary creator/writer of Dredd and Strontium Dog (how brilliant is that title?). Do you read science fiction or fantasy? If so, who’s your favourite author? Orson Scott Card writes an enjoyable yarn, but 1984 is by far the best SF book I’ve ever read; followed by A Clockwork Orange. If you could work on a comic strip based on just one sf television series or film, which would it be? Frankenstein (which is SF, not horror). In my opinion, Frankenstein is the greatest fictional character ever created. Having said that 2001: A Space Odyssey is my favourite all time movie, but Kirby has already bagged that one. The return of Doctor Who – a good or bad idea? If it’s good, it’s a good idea; if it’s bad, it’s a bad idea. Doctor Who always scared the living crap out of me as a kid. If it can do the same now to my (seen it all, done it all) son and daughter, I’ll consider it a roaring success. Is Star Trek dead or just resting? You know, I haven’t watched it for so long that I don’t feel qualified to offer a reliable diagnosis!
Alan Grant, Writer Currently working on: Judge Anderson and Young Middenface for the Judge Dredd Megazine; RoboHunter for 2000AD; Script for Dominator *2 animated movie; a new novel set in Scotland; Evil Ernie for Devil’s Due publishing. Gagstrips for Northern Lightz. And some other stuff I forget. Web site: www.alan-grant.com All-time favourite SF comic character? I have fond memories of The Iron Fish and General Jumbo...but I guess I have to plump for Adam Strange. What’s your favourite SF comic strip that you’ve worked on? Strontium Dog, because it’s set in Britain; it was created by my favourite creators, Wagner and Ezquerra; and it’s both tragic and very funny. Ironfish Which comics artist best known for their SF strip do you most admire? Carlos Ezquerra, whose artistic talent is matched only by his storytelling ability. Which comics writer best known for their SF strip do you most admire? John Wagner. Do you read science fiction or fantasy? If so, who’s your favourite author? I haven’t read SF or fantasy since I turned freelance 25 years ago, in case I found myself plagiarising other people’s stories. Prior to that I was a big fan. Favourite SF author has to be John Brunner, whose Last Stand on Zanzibar predicted much of our world today. Honourable mentions to Michael Moorcock and Harry Harrison. If you could work on a comic strip based on just one sf television series or film, which would it be? The Three Stooges in Space, if such a thing exists. I like the Three Stooges, but would like to toughen up their image somewhat. The return of Doctor Who – a good or bad idea? I don’t care. I was never a Doctor Who fan. Is Star Trek dead or just resting? If they’re only resting, I hope they have skimpier costumes when they come back!
Hunt Emerson, Artist Currently working on: Little Plum, Firkin The Cat, Phenomenomix, and a comic about John Ruskin. Web site: www.largecow.demon.co.uk All-time favourite SF comic character? I always liked DC Comics’ Adam Strange. What’s your favourite SF comic strip that you’ve worked on? Phenomenomix in Fortean Times Hunt Emerson Magazine. It’s the only one I’ve done! Which comics artist best known for their SF strip do you most admire? Bryan Talbot Which comics writer best known for their SF strip do you most admire? Bryan Talbot If you could work on a comic strip based on just one sf television series or film, which would it be? Captain Fantastic vs. Mrs. Black and the Blit Men from TV series Do Not Adjust Your Set, 1967. It starred David Jason and the great Denise Coffey., and I’d get the opportunity to meet or draw The Bonzo Dog Band, who were on the same series. The return of Doctor Who – a good or bad idea? Probably a good idea. I dunno. Don’t watch TV. Is Star Trek dead or just resting? Who cares?
Simon Gurr, Artist Currently working on: A graphic novel about Isambard Kingdom Brunel Web site: www.simongurr.com All-time favourite SF comic character? Dredd What’s your favourite SF comic strip that you’ve worked on? Future Shocks – The Enhancer, because it was my first work for 2000AD. Which comics artist best known for their SF strip do you most admire? Frazer Irving Which comics writer best known for their SF strip do you most admire? Alan Moore Do you read science fiction or fantasy? If so, who’s your favourite author? Not much. John Wyndham is my favourite. If you could work on a comic strip based on just one sf television series or film, which would it be? Doctor Who. It’s the only place I’d be likely to draw Zygons.
The return of Doctor Who – a good or bad idea? Very good. Is Star Trek dead or just resting? It died in 1969.
Bryan Hitch, Artist Currently working on: Too many things, but mostly Ultimates 2 for Marvel. Design work on Doctor Who TV series. Web site: www.theartofcomics.com All-time favourite SF comic character? If we take comics and their characters as science fiction then the answer has to be Superman. The One True Hero. What’s your favourite SF comic strip that you’ve worked on? The next one, probably, because I’m not the biggest fan of what I do and am always seeing the problems and pushing for the next step. I did quite like Authority and have the odd good word for Ultimates. Which comics artist best known for their SF strip do you most admire? Too many to list. Wally Woods SF work from EC was The Ultimates drawn by Bryan Hitch © Marvel stunning, Raymond’s Flash Gordon started an industry, Paul Gillon, Giminez, blah, blah, blah... Which comics writer best known for their SF strip do you most admire? Currently – Warren Ellis. Do you read science fiction or fantasy? If so, who’s your favourite author? Too few these days. I’m always researching something or studying a factual subject or somesort. Fan of the classics – Clarke, Harrison, etc. If you could work on a comic strip based on just one sf television series or film, which would it be? Superman. That first movie is one of the biggest motivating factors in my career. Take something outlandish and downright silly and make it something people can believe in. Last time that trick was done this well it was the Bible... The return of Doctor Who – a good or bad idea? Well... Is Star Trek dead or just resting? It needs a kick up the arse. It’s become so self referential hat it’s drowning in it’s own history. Why should Shatner be the only man to play Kirk? Other fictional heroes (Tarzan, Superman, Holmes, Batman, Zorro, Jack Ryan, etc.) have had many incarnations. It’s the characters, not the actors that are great. Everybody knows Star Trek is Kirk and "Beam me up Scotty". Reboot the series by starting from scratch with what Hollywood should have done ages ago: A big Budget Movie based on the original Star Trek. Matt Damon as Kirk, Jude Law as Spock, Martin Landau as Sarek, Gary Sinese as Bones, Jada Pinkett-Smith as Uhura, Robert Carlisle as Scotty (smoking fags all the way through) and tell the story of Kirk’s first command. Once the movie franchise is al up and running spin off a TV show with other actors in the roles. Once everybody’s used to it after the first time they’ll easily accept further variations. If it’s got Star Trek in the title all the fans will watch regardless of how much they complain, it’s the new audience you want and they won’t give a shit what came before. Not that I’ve though about this or anything...
Steve Holland, Writer Currently working on: Storm translations, Trigan Empire, Spider, Steel Claw reprints, etc. Web site: www.hankjanson.co.uk All-time favourite SF comic character? The Steel Claw. The stories and artwork combined perfectly;
they were dark and creepy (although it did go through the occasional ridiculous phase) and there was genuine tension in the cliff-hanger endings because Lewis Crandell was human and could be killed where other characters seemed invincible. What’s your favourite SF comic strip that you’ve worked on? During my (very brief!) career as a scriptwriter I only ever wrote one SF comic (a Starblazer) and that featured Mikal Kane, created by none other than Grant Morrison. Which comics artist best known for their SF strip do you most admire? Don Lawrence. Do you read science fiction or fantasy? If The Steel Claw so, who’s your favourite author? Frank Hampson – Dan Dare was hugely inventive within the boundaries of then current scientific knowledge and, as a writer of ‘hard SF’, Hampson surpassed most of his contemporaries. Best period was when Alan Stranks was writing the scripts (1953-58) and the Hampson studio was producing its best artwork. Do you read science fiction or fantasy? If so, who’s your favourite author? Very little these days, although I did pick up The John Varley Reader to relive my SF reading days of the 1970s/80s. Always favoured hard SF (Niven, Benford, et al) and "Golden Age" pulp (Williamson, Van Vogt, Heinlein, et al) over fantasy. The only modern author I’ve kept up to date with is William Gibson, although I’d definitely read more Neal Stephenson and Peter Hamilton if they could keep their novels under 1000 pages. If you could work on a comic strip based on just one sf television series or film, which would it be? Bladerunner, because it combines a lot of elements I like: futuristic crime noir. The world needs more Chandler-esque SF. The return of Doctor Who – a good or bad idea? Brilliant idea. Is Star Trek dead or just resting? I’d like to think dead, but it may just be suspended animation.
Kev Hopgood, Artist Currently working on: Horrible Histories Web site: www.kevhopgood.co.uk All-time favourite SF comic character? Magnus: Robot fighter What’s your favourite SF comic strip that you’ve worked on? Iron Man Why? I grew up reading all the old Marvel comics, so getting a chance to work on one of them was a dream come true. Which comics artist best known for their SF strip do you most admire? Al Williamson Which comics writer best known for their SF strip do you most admire? Alan Moore Do you read science fiction or fantasy? If so, who’s your favourite author? I’m reading the Philip Pullman books at the moment, so fantasy right now, I guess. If you could work Iron Man © Marvel on a comic strip based on just one sf television series or film, which would it be? Doctor Who Why? I think the new Doctor Who is going to be great, and Christopher Eccleston has got such a great face. Billie Piper’s easy on the eye as well. The return of Doctor Who – a good or bad idea? See answer to above. Is Star Trek dead or just resting? Who cares!
Rian Hughes, Artist Currently working on: New projects with Grant Morrison and advertising/logo/ animation projects Web site: www.rianhughes.com All-time favourite SF comic character? Dan Dare What’s your favourite SF comic strip that you’ve worked on? Really and Truly
John Higgins, Artist Currently working on: Digitally re-colouring the Watchmen for the Absolute Watchmen. Web site: www.turmoilcolour.com All-time favourite SF comic character? The original Frank Hampson Dan Dare. What’s your favourite SF comic strip that you’ve worked on? Judge Dredd, for the opportunity to do pure SF visuals and ass kicking violence with tongue-in-cheek humour written by some of the best writers in British comics. Which comics artist best known for their SF strip do you most admire? If we are talking about "pure" SF, probably Sydney Jordan. Which comics writer best known for their SF strip do you most admire? The answer today, is the versatile Warren Ellis with The Authority. Do you read science fiction or fantasy? If so, who’s your favourite author? Both, and at the moment reading David Gemell who writes some of the best action sequences around. If you could work on a comic strip based on just one sf television series or film, which would it be? The new Battlestar Galactica. It has a many layered very mature story, revolving around believable and interesting characters. I love the retro futurism, it has a sense of "The Battle of Britain" the few against the many, with some visual references to "Fighter command" when the Vipers are going out to confront the Cylons. "Jolly dashing stuff, old boy!" The return of Doctor Who – a good or bad idea? Great idea, an iconic character, that has great possibilities and is bigger than some of the weak series and Doctors we have had in the past and with the new creative team a great John Higgins cover for the 1990 Judge opportunity to get it right this time. Dredd Annual Is Star Trek dead or just resting? Resting.
David Lloyd, Artist, Writer Currently working on: Kickback Part 2 – a police detective story for France, produced entirely by myself (apart from the lettering and translation). Web site: I wish. Must get. All-time favourite SF comic character? OK, we are not talking super-heroes? Is that right? OK, it’s Rip Hunter-Time Master, because I haven’t seen any of the stories or art of the series. I just love the feel of the name and what the idea conjures up. Was it good? Maybe it was. Was it as good as I can imagine it might have been? Probably not. I can imagine that in my imaginary world where all things are great because I’ve imagined them to be, that it was really great. Don’t burst my bubble by telling me what it was like in the real world. What’s your favourite SF comic strip that you’ve worked on? Star Tigers, an offshoot of the Doctor Who magazine strips I did which was originally drawn by Steve Dillon, and was beautifully written by Steve Moore. A mix of satire of pulp-SF conventions and clever plotting. Sadly, this work of mine was not appreciated by a Doctor Who magazine fan of the time, who, at a convention, said to me, ‘Oh, you’re the one who ruined Star Tigers’... and they wonder why artists need constant reassurance... Which comics artist best known for their SF strip do you most admire? Paul Neary for Hunter, which was in one of the Warren magazines. Paul will always be best known for Hunter because it’s where he made his mark, and it marks his existence in the business as a A panel from David’s Star Tigers art for Doctor Who Monthly Brit who made it in the US while others dreamed of so doing. I admire him for making that mark – whether he really intended at the very outset to emboss himself thus on the industry or otherwise. Which comics writer best known for their SF strip do you most admire? Don’t know in comics, but in newspapers, Syd Jordan, because he was so obviously not entirely seduced by pulp-SF or hard-science SF, and recognised the need in his own work to use the strengths of both strands of the genre to fully entertain and convince a mainstream audience of middle-class English newspaper readers for decades. A great achievement. Do you read science fiction or fantasy? If so, who’s your favourite author? Once upon a time. Ray Bradbury, Richard Matheson, Robert Sheckley, Norman Spinrad, Robert Heinlein, John Wyndham, H.G.Wells, Jules Verne and E. A. Poe – The Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym, William Hope Hodgson, Henry Kuttner, Edgar Rice Burroughs, Catherine Moore, Frank Herbert (Dune – now stop), Brian Aldiss – early days, Isaac Asimov... If you could work on a comic strip based on just one sf television series or film, which would it be? Impossible to answer as – in the right hands, mine – any good sf film or tv series of my fond memory could be made into a great comic strip. Why? The sheer joy of transferring quality exhibited in one medium into another medium of equal but different strengths. The return of Doctor Who – a good or bad idea? From what I’ve seen – bad. No tension or suspense whatsoever, and, as it isn’t supposed to be just for kids this time, there should be a modicum of these elements present. It had more grit when it was supposed to be just for kids. It’s just relentlessly optimistic at every turn now, like many other things from the BBC drama department – and like Casanova is from the same writer. The motor theory of it is, that nothing really matters because it could all end tomorrow – and why bother saving the world when it’s just some fun for Saturday evening viewers. Is Star Trek dead or just resting? You talking comic or tv? For me, Star Trek still fully alive in re-runs of original show. Is there a really good Star Trek comic series (or just one issue) that has been produced? If so, direct me to it – but don’t disappoint me. Why? Disco funk! Which comics artist best known for their SF strip do you most admire? John Burns – Countdown Which comics writer best known for their SF strip do you most admire? Alan Moore Do you read science fiction or fantasy? If so, who’s your favourite author? Neal Stepenson at the moment. RIP Andre Norton If you could work on a comic strip based on just one sf television series or film, which would it be? Comics (or books) based on other media generally don’t work very well... Why? Law of diminishing returns The return of Doctor Who – a good or bad idea?Ask whether it’s a good or bad programme!
Is Star Trek dead or just resting? For me it died half way through Next Generation. The most wooden acting, the most hackneyed plots... is anyone still watching?
Stuart Jennett, Artist Currently working on: Concept art for various game titles. Web site: www.stuartjennett.com All-time favourite SF comic character? It’s gotta be Dredd in his heyday (Cursed Earth, Judge Child etc) it was all so fresh and action packed, real boy’s own stuff, Dredd even had thought bubbles then. I think it helped humanise him just enough and in
someways made him seem tougher, this was a guy not to mess around but he was still true in heart in a kind of knightly fashion rather than the mindless two dimensional Nazi killing machine he’s become today. The art work was fresh as well, you had a lot of talent there that you could see visibly maturing as time went on , I think that kept me coming back for more as much as the scripts. What’s your favourite SF comic strip you’ve worked on? Warheads for Marvel UK. Why? It was the first strip I’d worked in professionally and I learned a hell of a lot in a very short amount of time. Which comics artist best known for their SF strip do you most admire? Probably Mike McMahon’s stuff on Dredd and Slaine, he was a great storyteller and a great designer. I’m a big fan of Mignola though as well, his visual shorthand is amazing. Which comics writer best known for their SF strip do you most admire? Probably Mignola, I like the way Hellboy just rolls along at it’s own pace. Do you read science fiction or fantasy? If so, who’s your favourite author? I like a bit of both to be honest as long as it’s a good read. I think Harry Harrison is a genius although I still get a buzz out of reading my old Robert E Howard Conan books. If you could work on a comic strip based on just one sf television series or film, which would it be? Sad I know, but I’d like to do a Star Wars strip or Zone Troopers Why? Star Wars, I get to draw Clonetroopers, Zone Troopers I get to draw WW2 soldiers, aliens, Nazi’s… The return of Doctor Who – a good or bad idea? Was a good idea until I watched it – so a bad idea I guess. Is Star Trek dead or just resting? Dead, finished for me at Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home. They developed a good house style in the first four movies and I liked the characters. Not interested in anything after that. ‘nuff said!
Rich Johnston, Writer Currently working on: The Flying Friar Web site: http://litg.comicbookresources.com All-time favourite SF comic character? Captain Britain What’s your favourite SF comic strip that you’ve worked on? Dirtbag Why? It was my first, and it encapsulated everything I’d read in science fiction and unhealthily loved. Douglas Adams meets Robert Heinlein. It was a mess, but I loved it. Which comics artist best known for their SF strip do you most admire? Bryan Hitch Which comics writer best known for their SF strip do you most admire? Warren Ellis Do you read science fiction or fantasy? If so, who’s your favourite author? Robert Heinlein and Douglas Adams. I know, I know.. If you could work on a comic strip based on just one sf television series or film, which would it be? Doctor Who. Of course. Why? Because I’m weak. And I can write anything with Doctor Who. The return of Doctor Who – a good or bad idea? A genius idea. Is Star Trek dead or just resting? Put it out of its misery.
Glenn Fabry Currently working on: Neverwhere for DC Vertigo, covers for Kev Authority Web site: www.glennfabry.co.uk What's your favourite SF comic character of all time? Storm by Don Lawrence is amazing, also Den by Richard Corben & SF by Moebius. What's your favourite sf comic strip that you've worked on? The only real SF I've done is Dredd Which comics artist best known for their SF strip do you most admire? Don Neverwhere Lawrence Which comics writer best known for their SF strip do you most admire? Joss Whedon Do you read science fiction or fantasy? If so, who's your favourite author? Michael Moorcocks Jerry Cornelius Novels, The Dancers at the End of Time Trilogy, Hitchhikers Guides. If you could work on a comic strip based on just one SF television series or film, which would it be? Barbarella! The return of Doctor Who -- a good or bad idea? I'm enjoying the new series but the writers best bits are the real life bits – like when the TARDIS got tagged – well it would, wouldn't it!! Is Star Trek dead or just resting? It will probably be resurrected at some point but I can never forgive the Next Generation movies – especially when the last series was so good (the Next Generation series, not Voyager or Deep Space Nine.
Paul J. Palmer, Artist Currently working on: Minnie the Minx now and then for the Beano and Sid the Sexist for Viz. All-time favourite SF comic character? Cerebus What’s your favourite SF comic strip that you’ve worked on? The Time Smiths. A strip of mine which appeared very briefly in Spit! comic in the early 1990’s. Why? It mixed time travel, Morrissey and man-eating monsters. How could it not be my favourite? Paul J. Palmer Which comics artist best known for their SF strip do you most admire? Kevin O’Neill. For Nemesis and the League of Extraordinary Gentlemen. Which comics writer best known for their SF strip do you most admire? Alan Moore, boringly. For Watchmen, even more boringly. Do you read science fiction or fantasy? If so, who’s your favourite author?Yes. I’m really enjoying Susanna Clarke’s Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell. If you could work on a comic strip based on just one sf television series or film, which would it be? Does the League of Gentlemen count as SF? Why? For every single resident of Royston Vasey, "Go Johnny Go Go Go" and the "Special Stuff". The return of Doctor Who – a good or bad idea? A good idea. I’m hoping my kids will be scared silent. Is Star Trek dead or just resting? Resting. Probably for quite a while, though. A pity, as I was enjoying Enterprise. Voyager was completely pants, though.
Pat Mills, Editor, Writer Currently working on: Requiem Vampire Knight, Claudia Vampire Knight, Broz Freedom Fighter. All ongoing series by Editions Nickel France. Requiem reprinted in Heavy Metal. All-time favourite SF comic character? Lone Sloane - Delirius. France What’s your favourite SF comic strip that you’ve worked on? Savage (Invasion) in 2000AD Why? You don’t really want to know the answer; or rather it’s probably better I don’t expand! Other than to say I tend to like what I’m working on at this moment and thinking about, which happens to be Savage which is sort of science fiction. Which comics artist best known for their SF strip do you most admire? Kevin O’Neill Which comics writer best known for their SF strip do you most admire? Alan Moore Do you read science fiction or fantasy? If so, who’s your favourite author? Thomas M. Disch If you could work on a comic strip based on just one sf television series or film, which would it be? Dunno. The return of Doctor Who – a good or bad idea? Excellent idea. Is Star Trek dead or just resting? Dunno. I tend to be very focussed on what’s directly relevant to me right now and filter out every thing else.
Tim Perkins, Artist, Designer, Writer Currently working on: Worlds End (my series of Science Fantasy Graphic novels) and a TV Conceptual Project called Heroic Hamsters, which came my way via Dave Gibbons. Plus some web graphics and other graphics. Somewhere amongst all that I have a sort of family life...occasionally. All-time favourite SF comic character? Killraven – Warrior of the Worlds by Don McGregor and P Craig Russell What’s your favourite SF comic strip that you’ve worked on? Doctor Who. Although Phage – Shadow Death comes a close second. Why? John Ridgway is a great artist and friend to me. I really enjoyed working on the strip with him in the 1980s at Marvel UK and learnt a great deal from doing so. I was new to inking other artists and John does most of his work at the ink stage. I soon learned that "Zorro" (his nick-name from me as the guy is just so darned fast) was a great storyteller and draughtsman. I’m still not sure I was ready to do justice to John’s pencils at the time, but John was kind in his encouragement to me and the guys at Marvel liked what I was doing and fan reaction seemed to echo this in the main. The concept of a time traveller always fascinated me as a kid watching the series...The Daleks and Cybermen were just brilliant. Bryan Talbot wrote a great script for Phage and Dave Pugh gave me the most gorgeous finished pencils I have ever had the privilege to work on. Which comics artist best known for their SF strip do you most admire? Obviously John Ridgway, but I also love the work of Al Williamson. The detail these two guys put into their work is phenomenal and beautiful to look at. Which comics writer best known for their SF strip do you most admire? I think it’s a close one between Bryan Talbot and the Alan Grant/John Wagner team. Do you read science fiction or fantasy? If so, who’s your favourite author? That’s a hard one... Fantasy has to be Robert E Howard, Clark Ashton Smith, Michael Moorcock and J R R Tolkien (not due to the film I must add... I was a fan from being a kid). Science Fiction has to be Issac Asimov, Poul Anderson, H G Wells and Ray Bradbury... If you could work on a comic strip based on just one sf television series or film, which would it be? Comic based on a TV series would be either Doctor Who, UFO, or Captain Scarlet. Comic based on a Film would be either War of the Worlds or Alien. Why? I loved working with John Ridgway on Doctor Who, early on in my career, inking his pencils. I learnt a lot working with John. I would love a shot now at actually drawing it. UFO has always been a favourite of mine and the same goes for Captain Scarlet. War of the Worlds is such a great concept and Alien was just so original in the design sense. The return of Doctor Who – a good or bad idea? A great idea! About time too. Is Star Trek dead or just resting? I think there has been a little overkill (maybe) over recent years, so maybe resting is a good thing. Although I really hope it isn’t dead.
John Ridgway, Artist, Writer Currently working on: Judge Dredd All-time favourite SF comic character? Dan Dare What’s your favourite SF comic strip that you’ve worked on? Frontiers Why? Wrote it myself – to suit myself Which comics artist best known for their SF strip do you most admire? Frank Hampson Which comics artist best known for their SF strip do you most admire? Sydney Jordan Do you read science fiction or fantasy? If so, who’s your favourite author? Arthur C. Clarke If you could work on a comic strip based on just one sf television series or film, which would it be? Stargate SG-1 Why? Plenty of scope The return of Doctor Who – a good or bad idea? Generally good Is Star Trek dead or just resting? Hopefully just resting!
David A. Roach, Artist Currently working on: Synnamon for 2000AD , inking Doctor Who, writing for Comic Book Artist, Writer for True Brit... Still attempting to index every British comic ever published (ongoing, not surprisingly!) All-time favourite SF comic character? As an eightyear--old, going on nine I was given the 1974 Dan Dare annual which reprinted some choice Hampson studio Dares and my mind was blown, particularly by Safari in Space. Though I should also add Judge Dredd as my generation’s Dare, another character of infinite possibilities. And Les Naufrages Du Temps by Paul Gillon (with some early scripts by Jean-Claude Forrest), bawdy Soap Opera with incredible art. I was also bowled over by Macgergor and Russell’s Killraven – soon to be a film apparently. What’s your favourite SF comic strip that you’ve
worked on? Judge Anderson I guess, though actually I enjoyed a couple of Judge Dredd’s I’ve just drawn even more . Why? Just working in the marvellous world of Mega City one , with all the crazy characters and fantastic designs . I was able to suggest some ideas so I was able to include all sorts of glamorous girls – purely in the cause of the story, of course . Which comics artist best known for their SF strip do you most admire? Do I have to limit it to one ? Hampson, Bellamy, Burns , Lawrence , Embleton, Moebius, Nino… I could go on and on! Which comics writer best known for their SF strip do you most admire? Alan Grant, without a doubt. The best writer I’ve ever worked with by some distance. Alan knows how to pace and plot a script perfectly and they are always an absolute joy to work on. If I could draw only Alan Grant scripts from now on I’d be a happy man. And he’s not paying me to say any of this (though I’m always open to bribery ) . Do you read science fiction or fantasy? If so, who’s your favourite author? I haven’t for years. In my youth, I was a big fan of Moorcock’s more outre books, mostly the Jerry Cornelius outings . If you could work on a comic strip based on just one sf television series or film, which would it be? As a long time fan of TV Action I’d have to say UFO, though following the great John M. Burns would be a fearsome prospect. Why? Part nostalgia I guess, but UFO is a good-looking show – it would be great fun to enter that world. The return of Doctor Who – a good or bad idea? As the inker of the strip for three years now what do you think I’m going to say? It’s great that a new generation (or two) can have their own Doctor. Is Star Trek dead or just resting? In the words of Frank Zappa: "It’s not dead, it just smells funny ". A more po-faced, self important series I’ve yet to see , though as a kid I loved the original series . Not a patch on UFO, Doctor Who or – gasp – Children of the Stones.
Dez Skinn, Editor and Publisher Currently working on: Comic Expo (Brighton) 2005 plus ProCon 2006 – a networking two-day seminar to precede Expo, for creatives and business sorts connected with comics, games and animation. Getting loads of support, input and sponsoring. Oh, and Comics International. Web site: www.comicsinternational.com All-time favourite SF comic character? A toss up between Jet Ace Logan and Trigo. Never could deal with Dan Dare’s name or eyebrow. Too middle class and foppish fer a young Northern tyke. What’s your favourite SF comic strip that you’ve worked on? Well, Doctor Who has to beat Star Wars, seeing as most of the latter was reprint. But I did have a soft spot for Axel Pressbutton. Why? Quite proud to have got the go ahead from the Beeb to start the Doctor Who title. Just couldn’t believe nobody had approached them before. A nine million weekly audience to tap into? Perfect or wot? Also felt Dave Gibbons interpretation of Tom Baker was spot on. Shame Brian Bolland couldn’t join in our all-star cast (with writers Pat Mills and John Wagner). Bolland was to alternate with Gibbons, but Dave pulled it of solo quite admirably. Which comics artist best known for their SF strip do you most admire? Anybody who doesn’t answer Frank Hampson/Dan Dare should be taken outside and shot. Which comics writer best known for their SF strip do you most admire? Ken Bulmer. Not best known for his comics work, but a pillar of 1950s British SF, in books and strips. Do you read science fiction or fantasy? If so, who’s your favourite author? That was a teenage thing for me. Can’t deal with having to remember silly names of planets and alien characters any more. Loved the EE Doc Smith Lensman series back then though. Somehow more fantastical than Asimov or Bradbury. If you could work on a comic strip based on just one sf television series or film, which would it be? Back to Quatermass. Nigel Kneale is a visionary. Although I also have a huge respect for J. Michael Straczynski’s Babylon 5, but nobody else could do it more justice than JMS himself. Why? I wanted to develop the whole concept beyond the movies when we were producing House of Hammer, but it died young. Wonderful concept, the British Experimental Rocket Group. The return of Doctor Who – a good or bad idea? Brilliant. Long overdue. Should never have been dropped. A staple of British TV... and of growing up to appreciate the fantastic. Without needing millions to do it with. Is Star Trek dead or just resting? Dead. Dead. Dead.
Liam Sharp, Artist, Publisher, Writer, Currently working on: Mam Tor’s Event Horizon Web site: www.mamtor.com All-time favourite SF comic character? Arzach What’s your favourite SF comic strip that you’ve worked on? A-crazy-A for Heavy Metal magazine. Why? Because I got to flex my writing muscles as well as my artistic, and it was for a magazine I’ve dreamt of being in all my professional career. Which comics artist best known for their SF strip do you most admire? Don Lawrence. Which comics writer best known for their SF strip do you most admire? Enki Bilal. Do you read science fiction or fantasy? If so, who’s your favourite author? M.John Harrison, China Miéville and David Zindle. If you could work on a comic strip based on just one sf television series or film, which would it be? The Chronicles of Riddick. Why? It might not have been a great film, but it would be great to draw! Space barbarians – right up my street! The return of Doctor Who – a good or bad idea? Great! Is Star Trek dead or just resting? I kind of lost interest after Deep Space Nine...
SMS, Artist, Writer Currently working on: Kid’s book and illos for a reworking of Hope Hodgeson’s House on the Borderland stories. Web site: www.fafner.demon.co.uk/dragonfly/sms All-time favourite SF comic character? Hampson’s Dan Dare What’s your favourite SF comic strip that you’ve worked on? The Library Muscle with Matt Howarth. Why? I got to invent lots of aliens. Which comics artist best known for their SF strip do you most admire? Brian Lewis made me realise that line work was fun. Bilal made me want to draw strips. Which comics writer best known for their SF strip do you most admire? It’s extraordinary how few ‘SF’ strips actually are SF. Most just have ‘scientific explanations’ for ‘superpowers’ or cool scenery. Sydney Jordan stands out as a man who not only knows his SF but knows how to put those things over as a fun – and very English – piece of entertainment for all. Then again: John Wagner’s going to go down in history as the originator of the greatest Graphic Novel SF epic ever. Do you read science fiction or fantasy? If so, who’s your favourite author? Yes. ‘Favorite authors’ are an invention of list-obsessives. To avoid all the obvious ones: Simak is nice and reassuring, Stableton is at the core of it all, Ryman makes you care about the characters and Kafka tells it like it is. If you could work on a comic strip based on just one sf television series or film, which would it be? It’s Dot Geroo innit? (Doctor Who) Why? Lots of chances for visual invention... and it’s the only series I love that much. The return of Doctor Who – a good or bad idea? It was a marvellous idea, including so many things we’ve been waiting for years to see done on TV ... Like, looking in the TARDIS and running out immediately, before taking another peek. What a pity that, after all that hard work, they decided not to include the Doctor in it. Like the TV Movie in reverse, really. Is Star Trek dead or just resting? For Christ’s sake, let it die.
This stunning piece of art by John Ridgway features the Ninth Doctor and companion Rose from Doctor Who.
Richard Starkings, Letterer, Publisher, Writer
Marvelman by Alan Moore, drawn by Alan Davis. Moore, who wrote The Ballad of Halo Jones for 2000AD, Swamp Thing and Watchmen for DC Comics and many other stories, continues to be a favourite writer for many fellow professionals.
Currently working on: Hip Flask: Mystery City and Hip Flask: Ouroborous Web site: The World’s Greatest Comic Book Fonts! – www.comicbookfonts.com; The World’s Greatest Comic Book Lettering and Web Design! – www.comicraft.com; The World’s Hippest Comic Book Hero! www.hipflask.com; and Dark Truths & Strange Fictions – www.activeimages.com All-time favourite SF comic character? I was pulled into 2000AD when Starlord merged into it – and I was pulled into Starlord by Ezquerra’s amazing work on Strontium Dog, so I’d have to say Johnny Alpha. But before that Countdown was the comic book I lived for, thanks to the beautiful strips featuring Dr. Who (sic) and UFO. What’s your favourite SF comic strip that you’ve worked on? Well, as a creator, that would have to be Hip Flask, but as a lettering artist I’d have to say Halo Jones Book Three, with Zoids and Battle Chasers at a very close second. Why? Ian Gibson’s work on the last Halo Jones series was jaw-droppingly beautiful. The artwork was enormous and those close ups of Halo were just yummy. There were also some chilling episodes which spoke to the real horrors and injustices of war and life as good science fiction always does. I loved the classic SF feel that Ian Rimmer and Grant Morrison instilled in Zoids, and Battle Chasers was perhaps the most exciting and original comic to hit stands in many a year. A shame Joe Madureira lost interest in it. Which comics artist best known for their SF strip do you most admire? I’d have to say Frank Bellamy for his Doctor Who illustrations in Radio Times and Moebius for The Incal. Bellamy captured the magic of Doctor Who and Moebius created his own science fiction magic. Which comics writer best known for their SF strip do you most admire? John Wagner for his warmth, humour and cynicism on Judge Dredd, Robo Hunter and Strontium Dog. He created not one but three great characters and a whole host of great supporting characters and villains – Wulf, The Gronk, Stix, Durham Red, The Dark Judges, Anderson, Hershey, Walter, Fergie, Cal, The Angel Gang, Fink, Mean, Hoagy, Stogie – to match. Do you read science fiction or fantasy? If so, who’s your favourite author? Not so much any more, but I read a lot of Harry Harrison, Asimov and short SF stories as a teenager. They wrote the stuff of which 2000AD was made. If you could work on a comic strip based on just one sf television series or film, which would it be? UFO Why? The strips in Countdown were so much better than the TV series which tried to be too ‘adult.’ UFO really lived up to its potential in comics – the hardware was great, the costumes worked well in comics and we got to learn more of the aliens’ back story. The return of Doctor Who – a good or bad idea? I’m excited by the concept of new stories and a new Doctor, but like any long running series or strip, there’s always a danger of familiarity breeding contempt. There aren’t enough risks being taken with new stories and concepts. Kids don’t want to get into the stuff their dad grew up on – they want new characters and adventures. What surprises will stories featuring the Daleks and the Autons yield? Is Star Trek dead or just resting? I never like Enterprise or Deep Space Nine for that matter. I loved the other shows and would happily give a new movie or series a chance. But as I noted above, I’d rather see something fresh and new. I’m looking forward to Steamboy!
Chris Weston, Artist Currently working on: Batman: Legends of the Dark Knight. Web site: www.chrisweston.com All-time favourite SF comic character? Dan Dare What’s your favourite SF comic strip that you’ve worked on? Indigo Prime: Killing Time, written by John Smith. It originally appeared in 2000AD way back in 1991. Why? This strip represents the moment I finally developed my very own style, one that hopefully distinguishes my work from other comic strip creators. Also, it’s a ripping yarn full of blood and gore, thrills and spills... and has a truly moving ending. Which comics artist best known for their SF strip do you most admire? Probably Alex Raymond for Flash Gordon. Exquisite work indeed. Frank Hampson and Don Lawrence probably rate a joint close second, though. Which comics writer best known for their SF strip do you most admire? John Wagner for Strontium Dog. Do you read science fiction or fantasy? If so, who’s your favourite author? When would I find time to read... I’ve got two kids! If you could work on a comic strip based on just one sf television series or film, which would it be? I don’t approve of comic strip adaptations... I think it belittles the comic strip medium. That’s not to say some great work hasn’t been produced in this manner... Frank Bellamy’s Thunderbirds is terrific. But I’d have preferred to see Frank to have come up with something original. I love comics too much to want them constrained by the corporate demands of other properties. The return of Doctor Who – a good or bad idea?A tenuous thumbs up... if it’s handled carefully. Is Star Trek dead or just resting? Deceased, cremated and its ashes scattered to the winds, hopefully.
Kev F. Sutherland, Artist and Writer Currently working on: Bash St Kids and other stories in The Beano Web site: www.comicfestival.co.uk All-time favourite SF comic character? Howard The Duck What’s your favourite SF comic strip that you’ve worked on? Either Red Dwarf, for which I drew Androids and wrote Ace Rimmer, or my own creation, the little-seen Fractal Force. It ran as a syndicated strip in a couple of regional papers and never got the big break it deserved. Why? They were a group of scientists who had their brains mapped and fed into a computer then died. So they were only alive in the computer, having adventures in the fractal universe, and no-one wanted to tell them why they couldn’t come out. Genius, though I say so myself. Which comics artist best known for their SF strip do you most admire? I loved Frank Bellamy’s Thunderbirds, but the love of my childhood years was John M Burns Tomorrow People in Look-In. Which comics writer best known for their SF strip do you most admire? Alan Moore for Halo Jones, his slightly-neglected classic. Do you read science fiction or fantasy? If so, who’s your favourite author? I actually prefer comedy to any of the above. Many SF fans are amazed at the number of genre shows I’ve never seen. If you could work on a comic strip based on just one sf television series or film, which would it be? I’d rather produce a comic strip that was then adapted into film or TV. The tail shouldn’t wag the dog. Why? Movie adaptations are almost always poor. Exceptions include the 1960s Thunderbirds, Marvel’s 1970s Planet Of The Apes and the 1980s Doctor Who strips. The exceptions that prove the rule.Two words that chill my blood: Graphic Novelisation. The return of Doctor Who – a good or bad idea?A brilliant idea. As was cancelling it in 1989, by the way. Is Star Trek dead or just resting? It died in 1969. Like I said, I prefer comedy.
Which comics artist best known for their SF strip do you most admire? That would have to be Jean Moebius Giraud for his very singular imagination. A once and future genious! Which comics writer best known for their SF strip do you most admire? John Wagner/Alan Grant. Do you read science fiction or fantasy? If so, who’s your favourite author? Moorcock. If you could work on a comic strip based on just one sf television series or film, which would it be? Captain Scarlet. Why? It was the first TV show that really pulled me into the world on screen. I love all of the design work that went into making the world a believable place. The music was great too and as for the Ron Embleton paintings on the end credits....Wow!!! The return of Doctor Who – a good or bad idea? Good. He’s one of the UK’s greatest heroes and good luck to him! Is Star Trek dead or just resting? I hope resting. If the universe is as big as they say it is surely there must be room for more boldly goings on!
Steve White, Artist, Editor, Writer Currently working on: At Titan, I edit the Official RAF Magazine, Best of the Simpsons, Bart Simpson, SpongeBob SquarePants and Wallace & Gromit. Honest. For myself, I’m working on a book looking at the deep history of Jaws (part cinema, part history, part natural history book); no publisher, just for myself really. Also still doing bits of artwork for publication and a new fine art piece. Web site: http://thunderlizard.gn.apc.org All-time favourite SF comic character? Hellboy What’s your favourite SF comic strip that you’ve worked on? Black Light (for 2000AD) Why? Well, it was the one time in my creative comics career that everything worked out the way I wanted it to. I co-wrote it with Dan Abnett, and we had a great time doing it. We had some great artists for the strip (John Burns, Steve Yeowell) and I real-
Dave Taylor, Artist Currently working on: Judge Anderson All-time favourite SF comic character? Dredd or John Difool What’s your favourite SF comic strip that you’ve worked on? Dredd Why? I did a Dredd sample page back in 1987ish that was so bad I was told it was too American(so I went and worked for Marvel and DC!) but still always wanted to draw him. I recently confronted this old ambition and the outcome was very satisfying, if not very scary! Raptor Battle by Steve White. Check out his web site for more stunning dinosaur art.
ly enjoyed the subject matter. Very X-Files as we would have written it. Which comics artist best known for their SF strip do you most admire? Mike Mignola. The man is a god. Did so much to prove less is more. Which comics writer best known for their SF strip do you most admire? Grant Morrison. Do you read science fiction or fantasy? If so, who’s your favourite author? Sci-Fi. Favourite author is hard to pin down but I’d probably have to go with Dan Simmons. If you could work on a comic strip based on just one sf television series or film, which would it be? Battlestar Galactica (new version, not the appalling ‘classic’) WHY? I think it’s very subtle, with great characters and writing - not the camp histrionics of the old show. I love the theological and philosophical aspects as well, which combined with the hardware and action, make pretty much my perfect show. I’d love to have a crack a comic-strip version. The return of Doctor Who – a good or bad idea? It’s a matter of supreme indifference to me. I never liked the show and don’t know what all the fuss is about. Is Star Trek dead or just resting? Again, who cares? For a genre that supposed to be driven by future possibilities, it’s astounding how bogged down in the past it is. However, in answer to the underlying question, I think the Trek creators should take a long, hard look at Battlestar Galactica, which took a tired, indifferent show and really ramped it up. I think they should just accept that Star Trek has had its day and move on, unless they prepared to get truly radical.
Brian “Tiberius” Williamson, Artist, Writer Currently working on: Recently finished pencilling a 41-page Wallace and Gromit graphic novel called The Bootiful Game (written by Simon Furman and Ian Rimmer) for Titan. Doing storyboards for some Wimbledon TV ads and about to start on designing 36 new characters for a set of Yu-Gi-Oh type playing cards. Sleep – whuzzat? Web site: www.brianwilliamson.co.uk All the hits, all the time! All-time favourite SF comic character? From the US, Spider-Man, from Japan – Spriggan, from Blighty – Garth. Overall it’d have to be Spidey, because the others can’t do what a spider can. What’s your favourite SF comic strip that you’ve worked on? Some episodes of Vector 13 that I wrote for 2000AD, called Ghostwatch UK and Thrillkill 3000. Why? They were drawn by John M. Burns! I loved his stuff on UFO in Countdown, when I was a kid. Seeing his art on my script was one of those "Wow!" moments for me. I felt like a grown-up! Which comics artist best known for their SF strip do you most admire? All those TV21 guys have never been topped, but... Frank Bellamy on Garth, Al Williamson on Flash Gordon. Which comics writer best known for their SF strip do you most admire? Alan Moore. I realise now that it was the ultimate in hubris, but I was inspired to write for 2000AD by his Future Shocks/Time Twisters. Last year I painted a full-page illo for the Times Magazine of him and most of his characters. I spent way longer than I should have on it as a sort of karmic "Thank you". Do you read science fiction or fantasy? If so, who’s your favourite author? I love Simon R. Green’s stuff, just great fun, terrific characters and compulsively readable adrenaline-rush stories. Dan Simmons is almost the polar opposite in terms of style, but equally addictive. His Endymion/Hyperion books hint at the best explanation of what God, should s/he exist, might actually be playing at. Memo to both: WRITE FASTER! If you could work on a comic strip based on just one sf television series or film, which would it be? Tarzan vs Terminator On Skull Island. With Daleks. Why? There’s just so much good stuff out there! So much to draw, so little time... The return of Doctor Who – a good or bad idea? I’ve been watching the new series with my fiveyear-year old daughter and we both love it. It’s sad that there’s a generation of kids who grew up without "their" Doctor. Looking forward to the Daleks – hence the pic! Is Star Trek dead or just resting? Oh, resting, and probably not for very long. The best thing they could do is save the money they spend on sticking pretzels to people’s foreheads and spend it on a decent CGI Kirk. Shatner rules!
Dave Windett, Artist Currently working on: A series of illustrated books for Norwegian Publisher Damm Education. Web site: www.davewindett.com All-time favourite SF comic character? Cobalt 60 (by Vaughn Bode) – recreated below! What’s your favourite SF comic strip that you’ve worked on? Flint, Time Detective. Why? It’s the nearest thing to SF that I have worked on. Which comics artist best known for their SF strip do you most admire? Don Lawrence Which comics writer best known for their SF strip do you most admire? Sydney Jordan Do you read science fiction or fantasy? If so, who’s your favourite author? Christopher Priest If you could work on a comic strip based on just one sf television series or film, which would it be? The Clangers Why? It would suit my style! The return of Doctor Who – a good or bad idea? Good Is Star Trek dead or just resting? Dead (I hope)
The Ninth Doctor, Rose and Daleks by Brian Williamson
He was not Britain’s first picture-strip Space Hero. But he was arguably the most finely crafted, and his exploits achieve a science fiction credibility-rating few of his comic-book rivals can equal. Now – for the first time – ANDREW DARLINGTON explores the full, complex, and fascinating history of JET-ACE LOGAN, and we pay tribute to one of the strip’s artists, JOHN GILLATT... STARTS TODAY – THIS TIP-TOP YARN OF THE SCIENCE AGE! “Meet the most dare-devil, reckless space-pilot ever to slam a nuclear-powered rocket through the measureless heavens of infinity ...!” Tiger, 24th October 1959 e was not the first British science fiction picturestrip hero. That was Denis McLoughlin’s Swift Morgan, as early as 1948. In fact, by the 15th September 1956 when the first-ever two-page black-andwhite Jet-Ace Logan episode rocketed across pages 10 and 11 of Comet, ‘Dan Dare’ had already been adventuring for five years in Eagle, and ‘Captain Condor’ for four years in Lion. ‘Rick Random’, ‘Space Ace’ and BBC radio’s ‘Jet Morgan’ also had sizeable fan followings. But from these origins JetAce would run continuously on a week-by-week basis for 413 episodes until 22nd August 1964 – then as a series of reprints until 9th March 1968, and as irregular reprints through to... virtually now. The stories are, by and large, set 100 years into the future. Their way-back 1950’s future, of course, distinctly different from today’s mundane reality. One in which Britain mounts the world’s first lunar expedition from its African colonies, one in which James ‘Jet-Ace’ Logan and his chums were – or will be – members of the RAF Space Command. A future set in a 1950’s-style solar system where Mars has lost cities studded along its ancient canal-system, Venus has rain forests beneath its obscuring cloud-belts, and Mercury has a ‘temperate’ zone located between ‘nature-tortured’ extreme hemispheres of heat and ice.
The Earth-bound vehicle for this first cycle of Logan’s exploits is Comet, a slim 16-page weekly rippling with schoolboy wonders. Here, the introductory serial opens at precisely 3.45pm, as high-spirited cadet Logan first arrives by Gyro-train at RAF Hawton, Lincolnshire, chaotically colliding with his ‘future comrades-in-arms’. He then accidentally wrecks his first test-flight training-ship over Africa “dangling on the end of an ejection parachute… he’d burnt up his engine because 5,000 miles an hour was too slow!” But abruptly the action shifts across ‘the peril-ridden wilderness of outer space’ to beneath ‘the lurid light of Jupiter’s eight moons’, where invading aliens have already arrived. The strip was abridged for its appearance in the 1980 Starlord Annual, and the reprint benefits from delivering a tighter and more concise story. That said the sequence in which Jet-Ace’s return to an alienoccupied Earth in a captured ship which crash-lands in the Arctic is edited out, and readers must have been more than a little confused by the sudden and unexplained appearance of Bobanook, an Oxford-educated Inuit character in Jet-Ace’s
A strange encounter in space in ‘Jet Ace Logan and the Missing Spaceships’ which first appeared in Tiger in 1961. Art by Brian Lewis.
resistance group! Nevertheless, the aliens’ fatal flaw – that their spacecraft require a long period of regeneration, during which they are grounded and inactive, ultimately allows Jet-Ace’s single ship to virtually destroy their entire fleet as it regenerates in Hyde Park. Not great SF perhaps, and Geoff Campion’s initial 12-months of artwork can at times devolve to almost crude caricature. But this was an adequate introduction to a new SpaceHero – ‘fearless and needle-witted, with a boyish sense of adventure’. Logan’s auburn-blonde switchback wave, his blue uniform, peaked RAF cap and neckscarf are there from the start, yet as scripter David R. Motton replaces Michael Butterworth (“I consider Mike to have been my picture-strip writing mentor” he says today), and as John Gillatt assumed artduties, they develop and evolve those ele-
ments over the following serials, taking them into full-depth character. It’s the inspired combination of Gillatt’s skilful art-invention and Motton’s scripts that turn Logan’s longterm pal – roly-poly spaceman Horace ‘Plum-Duff’ Charteris – into the serious academic half of the partnership, who works out the technical details that Logan is too impulsive to bother with. While Squadron-Leader Cobb becomes leaner, thinner, more austere and nastier – constantly exasperated by Logan’s pranks and irreverency into which Charteris, against his better nature, is drawn. For every act of Earth-saving heroism and superb piloting skills, there is some jape with ‘Cobby’ usually its target, ending up with Logan and Charteris being placed on punishment detail. In one story Logan purchases a high-tech electrical variant on ‘that old gag about putting a bucket-of-water on top of a half-open door’, in which the opening door to
WELL SUITED! John Gillatt is rightly revered for the work that he did on Billy’s Boots the strip of one lad, ‘Dead Shot’ Keen’s boots and the trials and tribulations of Billy as he attempts to try and hang on to his battered boots in the face of determined opposition from the fates. The very ordinariness of Billy was defined by the talents of John Gillatt who was able to imbue in Billy the seemingly perfect embodiment of the scowling, disaffected, and possessive, personality of Billy Dane to a tee. Something we could all associate with I’m sure. For the new Eagle he also worked on the rather muscle-bound Marshal Dan Dare for most of 1998 (the Drakken/miniaturised Mekon story was the longest Dare story that the new Eagle ran), the My Pet Alien strip and a one-off story ‘Killing Time’ in May 1990. Over the years his work appeared in a huge range of boys comics. In the 1980s his work also appeared in the shortlived Ring Raiders and Supernaturals comics. But the work of John’s that I most enjoyed as a lad was actually a couple of reprints from Tiger in the late 1960s that featured in Eagle Picture Library #7 (‘Public Enemy no. 1') and #10 (‘Company of Thieves’) of ‘The Great Thespius’. These two tales of pure hokum hardly showcase John’s talent in the way that his work on Billy’s Boots or his colour work on Dare would were the most marvellous fun but are probably rather overlooked by Gillatt afficionados today. I recommend them. Richard Sheaf
the RAF recreation room now triggers contact-breakers emitting a jet of water at the unfortunate recipient. Inevitably the first door-opener turns out to be Cobb! He is not amused. Logan is grounded, and the first expedition to explore the planet Mercury leaves without him. In a later story, an overriotous party on the space-pilot’s dormitoryblock results in the perpetrators being reassigned to rigorous disciplinary training in the Australian outback. This humanises the characters, fleshes out their personalities, but another incidental consequence of his reputation for gags is that when Jet-Ace stumbles across genuine evidence of sinister alien activity – for example, the infiltration of positronic robots in human guise – he is not believed. Cobb immediately suspects an elaborate hoax and reacts accordingly. And this irresistible combination of high-action and high jinks gives the strip an immediate clear-water distancing from the dour Dan Dare universe. Also, unlike the regularly Mekon-menaced and Treen-troubled Dan Dare, Jet-Ace seldom – if ever– encounters the same alien race twice. The ‘Light-Ones’ are literally a string of sentient energy-spheres who befriend and aid the trio of Earthmen when they are kidnapped to a world doomed by the approaching ‘red comet’. Then later, while fighting renegade spacers, Logan accidentally drops his torch into an asteroid’s crevasse where its light stimulates the growth of an otherwise dark-dwelling tentacular plant – a ‘fingery fungus’ which rapidly envelopes the entire mini-world in its brown tendrils. Conceptually and visually, these strikingly original creations are part of a grotesque assembly of strange species – not all of them merely aggressively hostile – that the pals will encounter over the coming years. Motton and Gillatt share a genius for building lavishly-detailed frame-by-frame incident - rich with invention, into complex storylines. ‘Mercury Mission’, one of the best tales in Logan’s space-faring career, confidently snatches the then-current nuclear-fears direct from the day’s headlines as atomic testing two miles beneath the Texan desert ignites a vast underground oil-field. It vividly balances the transatlantic threat posed by the resulting artificial volcano with Logan’s attempts to rescue a modest English vulcanologist from the violent planet-wide war being fought by rival species – the ‘Snakerpillar’ ice-worms, and the ‘Brightsider’ War-Machines – across the ‘temperate zone’ of Mercury. The sense of urgent desperation, the humour, the horror, and the political-topicality are all perfectly balanced in a story-line that contemporary adult SF magazines would surely have considered themselves fortunate to have published. But the Comet period ends with JetAce promoted to cover-status for what is essentially a linked trilogy forming Motton’s finest story-arc in which giant impenetrable alien ships appear in Solar System skies, ‘seeming to vibrate in the weak Spring sunlight above the City of Westminster’. But
forces even more sinister than these Galactics are at work within juvenile publishing. Comet is swallowed up by Tiger– where few of its star-characters survive for long. And only Jet-Ace goes on from strength to strength…
‘A TRIP INTO THE FUTURE WITH BRITAIN’S TOP SPACE PILOT !’ Motton’s self-imposed limitations – that although the Solar System is being explored and colonised, a star-drive to reach other suns has yet to be developed – is taken up by new scripter Frank S. Pepper. This paints the storyline-scope into a corner, but also forces greater ingenuity. In Pepper’s first tale a tower block-full of people are kidnapped by aliens from a triple-sun system for a galactic zoo. Stellar aliens can intervene in human affairs, and they continue to do so. Then ‘Invaders from Space’ contains all the elements that make Logan unique within British picture-strip SF, and is one that inaugurates an almost unbroken run of ambitiously sophisticated tales. While John Gillatt continues to embellish and illuminate subtle dimensions of detail, perspective, expression and humour that lift the stories to new levels. Gillatt never fails to invest his scenarios with a life and independence of their own, whether it’s astronomy-literate moon-scapes, skeletal robots, or the almost-tactile shading that brings Logan’s ship into its near-terminal plunge into the Sun to vivid life. Or the spectacle of the ‘Giants Of Space’ filing past the familiar architecture of Stonehenge; or the character-lines animating Logan’s fringelegal space-mate Abel Zlack (a ‘whiskery old space-barnacle’). Even the future-Earth cities which Logan drives his hover-car through are rationally and logically structured in ways that the horror-show totalitarian futures of 2000AD are not. Jet-Ace’s is an essentially upbeat tomorrow. There will be problems. But they will be solved. Humanity will triumph against the adversity of terrestrial environmental disasters and the bleak hostilities of space. “Lifestyles do change” confirms Motton, “they have done historically and the changes have not always been for the worst, as forecast by some doom and gloom writers.” Meanwhile, Logan’s weekly popularity leads to a series of spin-off Thriller Picture Library editions, produced with a monthly regularity even Frank Pepper’s awesomely prolific work-rate can’t match. So David Motton resumes script-duties for several of
the titles – including the first one – while others come via new writer/artist combinations. Credits become confused resulting in hugely varying quality-levels. SF veteran Ken Bulmer most likely contributed scripts. Michael Moorcock, the charismatic and iconoclastic creator of the brooding albino ‘Elric of Melnibone’ also admits writing Logan tales. But which? In correspondence he suggests it was just Annual one-off’s. But it was a long time ago. He forgets. ‘Power From Beyond’ was probably scripted by Harry Harrison who wrote the Bill The Galactic Hero novel series. It, and Motton’s ‘Times Five, both illustrated by legendary SF artist Ron Turner (famous for his work on the Dalek colour-strips in TV21) must rank among the best Logan strips ever, in any medium. Even Logan’s mischievous japes – always an essential ingredient of his appeal, translates well into this new form. ‘Planet
Run Wild’ opens with Logan and Charteris stunned by Police while resisting arrest brawling outside the Lunar-City ‘Rocketship Revels’ Casino. I can think of no other pre2000AD science fiction character who would be allowed such subversive indulgences. But inevitably, the strip’s terminal phase follows the final loss of the superlative Pepper/Gillatt partnership, and the ‘Jet-Ace Logan: Space Cop’ concept of stand-alone stories that continue through 1964 in a frantic search to bring together new creative teams capable of equalling what had gone before. There are two-parters, a four-part (‘Legion Of The Lost’) and a six-part single-page serial (‘The Day The Impossible Happened’). But quality is variable. Until Tiger reverts to a selective reprint programme, beginning with abbreviated adaptations of the first three Comet serials, before switching to the full Tiger story-arc up to and including ‘The
LIVING HIS ART John Gillatt is one of the last great craftsmen of the comic industry, I know no one today who can draw so well with an ink pen. I use Kolinsky sable brushes myself, to embellish my pencils with some flourishes and extra dynamics. John draws, creates, with his pen over brief dynamic pencil strokes. He can turn slight pencil strokes into instantly recognisable people; even his tiniest figures have the dynamic body chemistry of the character they represent. When computer painting over the smallest character, I never had a doubt as to who I was colouring. I think you can put John’s ability down to a powerful, retentive memory, that Scorer from the Mirror breathes life into the major players on his comics stage. This life force allows the characters to interact with each other, convincing you that they are true friends to each other, or the bitterest of enemies. John’s work is grounded in reality, his own life experience is there, and populating his strips with people he has known. This is probably why John felt uncomfortable with science fiction and happier drawing friends sharing joy and problems down the pub. John is there in the bedrooms and training grounds, with his characters, sharing their triumphs and failures. He wants to be there with them in their reality, not soaring off to realms of fantasy. John Gillatt inhabits the world he draws and very few artists can walk through the pages they create. John has this magical ability. I wish we had more magicians like him in the world today but like Gandalf the age seems to be slipping away, leaving few of these masters on Britain’s shore. The sad thing is they even seem to be disappearing in that land in the west, where comics came of age. Fortunately for us France and Italy still revere their wizards as ambassadors of Detail from culture and their power is still strong Supernaturals comic drawn there. John was held in huge respect in by John Holland, he should have moved there years ago, they would have offered him a princely throne and not allowed him to slip into the shadows. David Pugh
Jet-Ace sets out to rescue his friends in ‘Jet Ace Logan and the Missing Spaceships’. Art by Brian Lewis.
Planet Of Vanishing Men’. And although the amazing Frank S. Pepper died – still writing, aged 78, on the 13th December 1988– JetAce lives on. In reprint, in memory, and in New Media. Plundering of the past continues in Annuals, comic-libraries and even hardback fiction anthologies regularly up to 1974, and sporadically stories re-appear well-beyond that time-frame, including the ‘Eagle Comic Library no.2’ May 1985 (‘Murder In Space’), and the Wildcat Holiday Special (June 1989). The Jet-Ace Logan pages of the Heroes Of The Spaceways web site recalls that “in 1990, Fleetway Publication produced a Classic Action Holiday Special featuring ‘top names from the world of comics brought out of retirement’, introduced by none other than Jet-Ace himself. The website fails to mention that these four pages of art-work form an affectionate last hurrah to his most accomplished creation, by John Gillatt. “Personally, I don’t have any original ‘JetAce’ art” he confesses now, in response to my enquiry. “I imagine it was pulped years ago!” But, following what he terms the “sad demise of the strip market”, he found himself working on the ‘My Pet Alien’ strip for the Eagle re-launch as well as the new ‘Dan Dare’, by which time he was illustrating the daily Scorer football strip for The Mirror. When complimented on the rich detail of his Logan art he self-effacingly concedes that “I think SF has now left me way behind, but I appreciate the thought.” And – while declaring a personal interest – I myself scripted a five-page ‘Terror From Moon 33’ ‘Jet-Ace Logan Space Adventure’ which was illustrated by Ron Turner with all the exquisite detail he invested in ‘Times Five’ or ‘Power From Beyond’. In one of his story-lines from 1962 Jet-Ace and long-suffering pal Plum-Duff journey by U-sphere to a series of ‘alternate Earths’, each with slight variances in their history. Taken to a ‘fantastic city, gleaming with lights’ the alien Director ‘switched on a vast illuminated chart.’
“This shows only a tiny corner of the Cosmos, yet these dots are not stars but galaxies” the Director explains. “Entire universes each containing thousands and millions of stars. And Creation is so vast that there are countless millions of universes. No two have developed exactly alike, some closely resemble each other, as ours does yours, but others are fantastically different…” This was amazing mind-opening ‘sense-ofwonder’ stuff to me, at 14. It still reads as
pretty impressive to me now, 40 years later. Web Links Heroes of the Spaceways www.geocities.com/TelevisionCity/Set/2585
TOP OF THE CLASS It's been my honour and pleasure to work with John Gillatt since the dawn of time! We've worked together on such titles as Tiger, Eagle, Speed, Daily Mirror and a host of other publications. I've worked with him in an editorial capacity and also as a scriptwriter. On every occasion, his work has been of the very highest standard. I remember with enormous pleasure his artwork on such classics as Johnny Cougar, Billy's Boots, Jet-Ace Logan, the Forest Rangers, Football Family Robinson and, of course, Scorer, in the Mirror newspaper. His amazing talents in producing brilliant, detailed, true-to-life work have made him one of the great legends of picture-story artwork. In any roll of honour, he would be right at the top. As well as producing brilliant work, he is also a gentleman, someone it is always a pleasure to work with. I know that Dave Storry, the hero of Scorer, joins me in paying tribute to his very favourite artist! Barrie Tomlinson
A HUGE TALENT John Gillatt is a gifted and hugely talented artist of many years standing who has drawn some of the most famous characters in British comics. Stories such as Billy's Boots, Dan Dare, Jet-Ace Logan and Johnny Cougar, as well as the Daily Mirror's Dave 'Scorer' Storry, are among the best known examples of John Gillatt's work. I grew up reading Tiger comic so Billy's Boots in particular was a favourite of mine, thanks in no small part to John's tremendous artwork. Later, John did some complete stories for Ring Raiders, an all too briefly surviving title, which I was involved with as a scriptwriter. This comic was about combat aircraft, a difficult subject, but one which John captured perfectly with his usual impressive attention to detail. When I finally got to meet John several years ago, it was a great honour to shake hands with such a truly top artist. As all scriptwriters know, having skilled artists to bring your picture-stories to life is the most important thing of all... and there are none better at doing this than John Gillatt, an artist second to none and a very nice guy as well! James Tomlinson
ALIENS TO YOUR DOORSTEP! Doomlord Volume One
The Deathlords of Nox Buy it today! £5 plus 79p P&P, available from: David McDonald Cappagh Castlebar Co.Mayo Ireland Please make cheques or postal orders payable to David McDonald This is an officially licensed publication. Doomlord and Eagle are copyright the Dan Dare Corporation Ltd.
EAGLE TIMES The new issue of Eagle Times is now available (Summer 2005, volume 18, number 2) featuring a lead article on the mysterious Harry Lindfield (artist on Eagle, Girl, Swift, Countdown), pop music from the 1950s, a PC49 story adaptation, Nelson in Eagle, Eagle on the web and, as it's summer, Eagle camping equipment! A4 sized, full colour cover and 18 pages in colour inside. Annual subscription costs £18 (overseas members £22 for surface mail or £26 by airmail) for four journals of 50+ pages. Please make cheques payable to ‘The Eagle Society’ Send your order to: Keith Howard, 25a Station Road, Harrow, Middlesex, HA1 2UA 35
“Welsh is not a language you can easily pun in...”
Comics creator Ray Aspden reveals how he started out in the British comics business...
ike when King George died, Kennedy was shot and the Twin Towers came down; I can remember exactly where I was when I saw the first episode of Dan Dare (age 5 years 11 months). Eagle went on the parental paper bill, but Radio Fun, Knockout, Comet, Dandy and Beano and later Lion came out of pocket money; or from Mr Forrest's stall in Darwen Market Hall where you could swop two for one. That was the start of my love affair with comics which, apart from the occasional vain attempt to grow out of them, has remained staunch and true. I never thought of myself as an artist. I wanted to be a writer and, as an aspiring playwright in the Swinging Sixties, had several dodgy pieces performed in obscure Village Halls to the mixed amazement and disgust of an audience of friends and relatives. When I ran out of tame Theatre Companies I moved into Folk Clubs as a singer-songwriter during the brief, heady days of the pre-Thatcher Seventies. Then I thought about returning to my first love – comics. In the same way that a play script isn't proven unless it's acted and a song lyric is nothing unless it's sung; a comic strip script doesn't exist until it's drawn. I didn't know any artists so I scratched them out myself for a Social Club Newsletter and in 1976 struck lucky with Offis Boy's Own – a piece of pastiche which was published in No. 3 of Denis Gifford's short lived Ally Sloper magazine. By a quirk of fate my page appeared in the same issue as Frank Hampson's one and only page of Dawn O'Dare. I began counting the days to giving up the day job, but soon realised (a) that the Giff was not
as popular with comic publishers as he was with comic enthusiasts and (b) the second piece is always harder to sell than the first (particularly if your work is little better than average). However, by the end of the 1970s, I was drawing a regular three pages for a monthly Welsh Language Comic, thanks to a friend of a friend, and writing for D C Thomson, thanks to an advert in the Guardian. Thomson's wanted war stories – it was what their readers kept asking for more of. In an interview with their Editors in a back street London Hotel I was told that if I knew 52 ingenious ways to kill a German I might have a year's work. It was the sort of offer that with today's sophisticated surveillance equipment could have got us both taken off to Guantanamo Bay! The upshot was, I did a serial about the
Dardanelles for Victor (shortly before it folded) and then began an association with Starblazer, where I sold what felt like the same plot 32 times. They knew the sort of Space Adventure they wanted; if you complied with the formula they bought it and if you didn't, they didn't. Quite often they'd sent me a cover picture they'd bought from an agency and ask if I could write a story to go with it – that way was presumably cheaper than commissioning a piece of artwork. They used a lot of foreign artists and fell foul of the trade embargo with Argentina during the Falklands affair in 1982. (You may remember the headline, "Sanctions busting Starblazer artist acquires Uruguay address!)" Alongside the Thomson scripts I was turning out Welsh Language Funnies (writing and drawing). Quite a challenge as Welsh is not a language you can easily pun in – the vocabulary is too small– and I don't understand a word of it. Maybe my output was not the stuff of invitations to be on a panel at Comic Conventions – but it was enough to interest the tax man. Starblazer folded in the early 1980s and then in the early 1990s the Welsh comic lost its grant, but I still had the day job. My swan song was a freebie strip in Mad as a HatterFanzine of Luton Town F.C. – and you don't get much further onto the fringe than that! So why did I never write for 2000AD and draw for Whizzer & Chips? The simple, brutal truth is, I wasn't able to produce what they wanted and in retrospect I wonder if I would have enjoyed churning the same formula characters out week after week. Finally, when the day job had given me up and I was thinking about allotments and sucking humbugs, along comes Spaceship Away. 30 years after my comic strip work first appeared nationally alongside Frank Hampson's, there's my scratchy art work sharing the same publication as pages by Don Harley. Uncanny, or what? The love affair obviously hasn't ended yet.
Ray used his old Luton postcode for these mysterious co-ordinates featured in an issue of Starblazer!
Dan Dare and the Daleks by Bill Naylor
Thank you for Eagle Flies Again #11, enjoyable as always and graced by such a heart-warming cover picture by Martin Baines! Steve Winder’s surveys of Dan Dare stories continue to be interesting although I did not really take to Revolver’s version of the character. New Eagle’s first Dan Dare story, ‘Return of the Mekon’, certainly deserves analysis on its own merits, as well as the incidental material recalling the first Venus story and ‘Reign of the Robots’ in the old Eagle. The story told of Dan’s early space fleet career and deep space missions and both story and art literally took off with the ‘Fireflight’ section. Beside the Mekon’s
Director of Earth Research, three more Treens – Valdon, Kolsal and Monad were named, without one Ranas in sight. ‘Return of the Mekon’ spawned two related tales in the Eagle annuals for 1984 and 1985. The story in the 1984 book featured a re-union of Dan, Helen Scott and Sugar Joe Robinson, celebrating the fifth anniversary of their escape from the Mekon’s pyramid in London. Although Sugar Joe Robinson was killed during that escape, I have identified his appearance in 2220 as his android. 200 years on from the original Dan Dare saga, such things are plausible. The story in the 1985 book fits in nicely at the right juncture of the ‘Return of the Mekon’ story and consistency is main-
tained with the inclusion of a shapechanger who could be a relative or a friend avenging the death of a shape changer who was earlier killed at Moogie’s night club in London. Overall, allowing for the many different artists and writers the new Dan Dare saga holds together quite well. Hopefully this compliments Steve’s survey of ‘Return of the Mekon’ and I look forward to future installments. Geoff Provins Thanks, Geoff – we have three more articles from Steve on Dan Dare in the pipeline. Feel free to let us know what else you’d like to see in future issues!
THE LOST EAGLE TAPES Script and Art by Gerry Embleton Dan Dare is © the Dan Dare Corporation. Gerry has provided this strip for no charge for the the enjoyment of Dan Dare fans
Web Links British Comics Action www.sevenpennynightmare.co.uk Brilliant site devoted to the controversial 1970s comic published by IPC, which featured strips such as Hookjaw and Kids Rule. Right wing moral outrage over the comic's content lead to its suspension and subsequent much-diluted relaunch before the title finally emerged with Battle.
The Dan Dare Story www.dandare.org Detailed history of the character with a huge amount of information – over 100 pages. The site also features information on Eagle comic.
WE’RE OUT OF BACK ISSUES! So if you want to know just what you’ve missed – represented in our current much-praised format with all-new material, graced by an exclusive Doomlord cover by top British comics artist Liam Sharp – then you must buy The Best of Eagle Flies Again! Available for just £3.25 including postage and packing from:
The Look-In Archive The Look-In Archive launched 1 May 2004. It's attempting to display every page of every issue of the Junior TV Times which at its peak included stunning strips by John M. Burns, Mike Noble and many talented others. Strip titles included The Tomorrow People, Sapphire and Steel, Catweazle, The Bionic Woman and many more. The site owners have taken on a massive undertaking, and one which they are asking for help with. So "Scan when you can", and help make this site the best one there is about Look-In. • There's also this great site dedicated to Sapphire and Steel – www.sapphireandsteel.co.uk – which features all the Look-In comic strips.
Eagle Flies Again 54 Hartwith Drive Harrogate North Yorks HG3 2UY Please make cheques payable to Ian Wheeler
DOCTOR WHO DAY 2 Darwen Library Theatre, Knott Street, Darwen, Lancashire, BB3 3BU Saturday, 24th September, 10.00am - 4.00pm
On 24 March 1984 Scream! hit the shelves of newsagents around the world. The fantastic stories within its pages fans claim had kids shaking in their shoes in a way no other comic has ever achieved. Then, after only 15 issues, Scream! mysteriously ended. Rumours of strikes at IPC Magazines, the comic's creators, could have been the cause. Declining comic sales in the UK another. Who knows? Whatever did happen, the fact remains that Scream! was an awesome comic, nearly forgotten forever… nearly, but not anymore.
The comic that launched Strontium Dog and Ro-Busters – but lasted just five months. This site includes covers and scans of some of the comic's strips.
British Comics Creators The Lost Characters of Frank Hampson Link: http://www.frankhampson.co.uk The late Frank Hampson created half-a-dozen characters after Dan Dare (not including The Road of Courage, his rendition of the life of Christ). The site has been designed by Alistair Crompton, author of the Frank Hampson biography The Man Who Drew Tomorrow, and Wakefield Carter. It features partially restored copies of Birney, Raff Royal, Mary Lee, Dawn O'Dare, Monogram, The Chalmers, Modesty Blaise, Bird Boyd and Peter Rock. It also explain where the strips came from, and includes some of the notes Hampson wrote to accompany them. This site presents these strips for the first time on the Internet. If you see them on other sites, they have been taken from here.
With ... David J Howe, Mark Morris, Gareth Preston, DWAS and the ever popular HYDE FUNDRAISERS! Tickets £18.00(adults), £15.00 (concessions) Superb value for a full day’s entertainment! Tickets can be obtained from the Darwen Library Theatre Box Office on 01254 706006 (no booking fee!) All major credit/debit cards accepted! All guests appear subject to other work commitments.
An e-version of a special issue of Ian Wheeler's brilliant British comics fanzine, published in August 2005. With a cover by Andrew Chiu. In...
Published on Jul 31, 2005
An e-version of a special issue of Ian Wheeler's brilliant British comics fanzine, published in August 2005. With a cover by Andrew Chiu. In...