Bear Alley Books “Countdown” book on sale next week

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The latest comic index from Bear Alley Books, Countdown to TV Action, goes on sale from 4th July.

The 200-plus page book, which features a a colour cover featuring the work of Gerry Haylock, John M. Burns and Gordon King, covers the history and content of Countdown and TV Action, the Gerry Anderson-themed comic from Polystyle launched in the early 1970s.

With the demise of TV Century 21 – by the end of its second series, a pale shadow of the original – Polystyle stepped in to launch a comic based around the upcoming UFO TV series. Edited by Dennis Hooper, Countdown brought together some of the industry’s best talents — amongst them Harry Lindfield, Gerry Haylock, John M. Burns — to create a comic that is fondly remembered to this day, despite lasting just one year in its original format.

As well as UFO, Countdown‘s early issues included many of Gerry Anderson’s famous creations in its line-up: Thunderbirds, Lady Penelope, Captain Scarlet, Stingray, Joe 90, Fireball XL5, Zero X and The Secret Service. From its companion TV Comic — the two titles were edited out of the same Edgware Road offices — came Doctor Who, to star in some of the very best comic strip adventures of his career.

Over its run — during which the title morphed from Countdown to TV Action — the paper also featured the adventures of The Persuaders, The Protectors, Hawaii Five-O, Cannon and Alias Smith & Jones, plus the long-running science fiction epic, Countdown, created by editor Hooper, the latter’s artwork now held by the Daily Express (assuming it hasn’t disappeared during moves of the paper’s archive since 2008).

With artists like Keith Watson, Brian Lewis, Frank Langford and Don Harley working on strips, the paper was always a visual feast.

With behind-the-scenes stories from some of the original editorial staff, this volume includes a detailed index to the stories and strips that appeared over the paper’s 132-week run and various spin-off publications, identifying artists and writers where possible.

Countdown to TV Action is the fifth volume of comics’ history published by Bear Alley Books, following the publication of Hurricane & Champion, Lion King of Picture Story Papers, Ranger: The National Boys’ Magazine and Boys’ World: Ticket to Adventure.

• To pre-order Countdown to TV Action visit: http://bearalleybooks.blogspot.co.uk/2014/06/countdown-to-tv-action.html

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John Freeman

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.

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