Spectrum is Indestructible: a new Captain Scarlet book will include comic strip guides

Regular readers of downthetubes will recall we reported in 2016 that Chinbeard Books is to publish an unofficial guide to Gerry Anderson’s Captain Scarlet later this year, marking the character’s 50th anniversary since his debut on ITV.

Spectrum is Indestructible is the work of journalist, critic and writer Fred McNamara, and will feature a cover by Adrian Salmon. Although an unofficial book, it does have the backing of both ITV and Anderson Entertainment.

We’re also delighted to report the book will feature an insight into Captain Scarlet’s comic strip adventures, as Fred himself outlines below…

Captain Scarlet Comics Montage
As any Captain Scarlet and the Mysterons connoisseur will tell you, there was more to the story of Captain Scarlet than the 32-episode television show. Like many other Supermarionation shows, Captain Scarlet‘s world and adventures expands into books, audio adventures and comics.

In September, Big Finish are breathing fresh life into the Spectrum File with a trio of novels, as well as the five audio dramas, meaning that the comic book history of Captain Scarlet is sadly left behind.

"The Angels" drawn by Jon Davis for Lady Penelope comic in the 1960s
“The Angels” drawn by Jon Davis for Lady Penelope comic in the 1960s

Akin to several other Century 21 properties, Captain Scarlet had many a daring tale in TV Century 21, but unlike others, this  wasn’t the only comic that the series characters featured in. Lady Penelope, Countdown, Solo and TV Tornado expanded the world and characters of Captain Scarlet in ways the television series didn’t. TV Century 21 has received regular reprints over the years, but the remaining four comics haven’t, forced to sit aside in the annals of history.

Solo Issue 29 - CoverHowever, I’ve recently managed to acquire copies of Countdown, Solo and TV Tornado, and the stories they featured will now be featured in Spectrum is Indestructible! Alongside my already existing collection of TV Century 21 and Lady Penelope comics, it feels terrific to now have a complete picture of Captain Scarlet‘s original comic book adventures.

The point of Spectrum is Indestructible is to analyse, evaluate, and most of all, celebrate Captain Scarlet and the Mysterons as a fictional saga, so it’s wonderful to write about these comics for the book. I’ve known about these stories for quite some time, but their non-existent state in terms of reprints meant that I’ve only recently managed to feast my eyes on them. It really does feel like I’m now able to do Captain Scarlet and the Mysterons justice.

Solo and TV Tornado were two comics produced by City Magazines/ Century 21 Publishing back in 1967. The company were keen to capitalise on the growing success of TV Century 21, and began publishing Solo in February 1967.

The comic featured a rag-tag mixture of characters, such as “Mary Poppins”, “The Man from U.N.C.L.E.”, and “Sgt Bilko”. The comic didn’t quite have the desired impact to match TV Century 21, and thus a revamp came along that involved a strip called “The Mark of the Mysterons”, a strip produced in the run-up to Captain Scarlet and the Mysterons and to build hype for the upcoming series. “The Mark of the Mysterons” highlighted the Mysterons’ powers of retro-metabolism by weekly strips showcasing their destructive capabilities.

TV Tornado Issue 36 - CoverSolo eventually merged into TV Tornado, which featured another Mysterons-centred strip simply titled “The Mysterons”.

Essentially TV Tornado‘s version of TV Century 21‘s “The Daleks” strip, “The Mysterons” illuminated the Mars-based villains as an omnipotent force, with weekly adventures detailing their conquests of other worlds.

While "The Angels" didn't get many cover mentions, Issue 106 did feature the band Spectrum, who performed the show's end Credits song
While “The Angels” didn’t get many cover mentions, Issue 106 did feature the band Spectrum, who performed the show’s end Credits song

Lady Penelope, sister paper to TV Century 21, featured an ongoing strip detailing the Angels’ story of how they joined the Spectrum organisation, whilst Countdown continued the adventures of Captain Scarlet and the Mysterons into the 1970s.

No other Supermarionation show demands your attention like Captain Scarlet and the Mysterons. I can’t wait to dive headfirst into these strips and tear them apart, dissecting their contribution to the universe of Captain Scarlet, as well as evaluating their own merits as comic book strips.

S.I.G.!

• For more updates on Fred’s book, check out his web site at fredmcnamarawrites.wordpress.com

Captain Scarlet and the Mysterons – The Complete Collection is available here from amazon.co.uk

Gerry Anderson’s New Captain Scarlet is available here from amazon.co.uk

Limited edition prints of the end title art from Captain Scarlet by Ron Embleton are available from This Planet Earth

• You can check out Chinbeard Books’ website here for further info, as well as follow them and Fred on Twitter for future updates as work on Spectrum is Indestructible progresses

• You can find out more about Solo and TV Tornado by Lew Stringer‘s fabulous comic book blog Blimey! here and here

Captain Scarlet and the Mysterons copyright ITV

John Freeman

The founder of downthetubes, John describes himself as is a “freelance comics operative”, currently working as a freelance editor for TITAN COMICS, as Creative Consultant on the new DAN DARE audio adventures for B7 Media, and on promotional work for the LAKES INTERNATIONAL COMIC ART FESTIVAL and LANCASTER COMICS DAY.

John has worked in British comics publishing for over 30 years, starting out at Marvel UK, where he edited a number of the Genesis 1992 books with Paul Neary. His numerous credits include editor of titles such as Doctor Who Magazine at Marvel and Star Trek Magazine and Babylon 5 Magazine at Titan Magazines, where he was Managing Editor.

He also edited STRIP Magazine and worked as an editor on several audio comics for ROK Comics, including TEAM M.O.B.I.L.E. and THE BEATLES STORY.

Most recently he is writing CRUCIBLE as a creator-owned project with 2000AD artist Smuzz, published on Tapastic; and DEATH DUTY and SKOW DOGS with Dave Hailwood for the digital comic 100% Biodegradable.

%d bloggers like this: