Thunderbirds Legends: The Prequel Story to International Rescue Retold

Thunderbirds Legends The official Gerry Anderson web site has released the first of three Thunderbirds Legends animated videos. The videos are a re-telling of the origins of Thunderbirds, based on “The Complete Thunderbirds Story“, written by Alan Fennell with art largely by Andrew Skilleter, first published in Thunderbirds: The Comic in the 1990s.

Thunderbirds enjoyed a cosmic wave of renewed popularity in the early 1990s. Alongside the BBC Two reruns came swathes of new toys, games, media and merchandise, and, very notably – Thunderbirds: The Comic, published by Fleetway Editions.

Launched in 1991, Thunderbirds: The Comic featured a mix of new material, including cutaways by Graham Bleathman in early issues, alongside reprints of strips from the TV Century 21 published in the 1960s.

Thunderbirds: The Comic Issue 35

The Complete Thunderbirds Story“, written by Alan Fennell, who wrote a number of the original Thunderbirds TV episodes as well as editing TV Century 21, Countdown and Thunderbirds: The Comic, with art largely by Andrew Skilleter, began in Issue 35 and ran consecutively for 45 weeks. The final part appeared in Issue 79, published in October 1994.

Steve Kyte also contributed to the strip, and Mike Noble provided drawings of Jeff Tracy’s vision for Tracy Island.

Graham Bleathman also provides a related cutaway of a shuttle spacecraft based on the then current X-30 National Aero Spaceplane.

The Complete Thunderbirds Story - Episodes

The strip was designed to be the ultimate prequel story to Thunderbirds, covering everything from Jeff Tracy’s career as an astronaut onwards, discovering Tracy Island, the birth of the five Tracy sons, losing his wife and father, and the construction of the Thunderbird machines.

The Complete Thunderbirds StoryThe Complete Thunderbirds StoryThe Complete Thunderbirds StoryThe Complete Thunderbirds StoryThe Complete Thunderbirds Story

Above: original art from “The Complete Thunderbirds Story” by Andrew Skilleter

While not without some criticisms, the strip is fondly remembered by many fans, but has never been reprinted and it is not currently officially accessible, so the Gerry Anderson web site team led by his son Jamie Anderson have created Thunderbirds Legends, a new mini series on the Gerry Anderson YouTube channel.

These new videos feature original artwork from the comics with additional animations, sound effects and narration, revisiting “The Complete Thunderbirds Story”, and bringing the International Rescue origins story to life.

Part One takes us through the early days of Jeff Tracy: his career as an astronaut and the birth of Scott and Virgil, as well as the discovery of what would one day become Tracy Island.

Thunderbirds: The Comic art by Andrew Skilleter

Andrew Skilleter is a long-time UK illustrator of many things, with a track record spanning decades using primarily traditional techniques. It was his childhood dream to be an illustrator, his early influence being the cream of the British picture strip artists who flourished in the golden age of comics that was all over by the end of the 1960s.

He is best known for his long professional association with Doctor Who and the BBC, also maintaining a busy illustrative career mainly illustrating works of mystery and imagination, that has regularly included Gerry Anderson-related commissions, including comic covers, strips and much more.

Watch Thunderbirds: Legends on the Gerry Anderson YouTube channel – Parts Two and Three will be available soon

Read more about the origins of International Rescue on the official Gerry Anderson web site

Chris Thompson’s view of “The Complete Thunderbirds Story” on the official Gerry Anderson web site

Andrew Skilleter is online at

The Gerry Anderson Art of Andrew Skilleter on Facebook

With thanks to Jeremy Briggs, Graham Bleathman and Shaqui Le Vesconte for additional information


The founder of downthetubes, John works as a comics editor, writer, as Creative Consultant on the Dan Dare audio adventures for B7 Media, and on promotional work for the Lakes International Comic Art Festival. Working in British comics publishing for over 30 years, his credits include editor of titles such as Doctor Who Magazine, Star Trek Magazine and Babylon 5 Magazine. He also edited the comics anthology STRIP Magazine and edited several audio comics for ROK Comics. He has also edited several comic collections, including volumes of “Charley’s War and “Dan Dare”. He’s the writer of “Crucible”, a creator-owned project with 2000AD artist Smuzz, published on Tapastic; and “Death Duty” and “Skow Dogs” with Dave Hailwood for digital comic 100% Biodegradable.

Categories: Animation, downthetubes Comics News, downthetubes News, Other Worlds, SF Comics, TV News

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2 replies

  1. You hit a nerve with this post this morning John. Just picked up all of the Tracey family Harrop figures at auction! As a kid in the 60’s I thrived on the Sci-fi shows and comics! Legion of Super Heroes, anything Gerry Anderson, Star Trek, Lost in Space, Twilight Zone, Adam Adamant, etc. Watched the moon landing. It was such a great time of futuristic adventures. I desperately wanted to be an astronaut but was too tall to fly jets so no chance of being a jet pilot hence no chance of being an astronaut. ☹️ But no doubt in my mind that the Anderson shows just fired my imagination!!

  2. I reckon there might be some interest in a collection of the original comic strip…. trouble is to comment on the GA web-site just requires too much access allowed to site provider….probably explains the 0 comments there!

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