Creators: Various, including writers Alan Fennell and Tod Sullivan and artists Frank Bellamy, Jon Davis, Eric Eden, Ron Embleton, Rob Hamilton, and Mike Noble
Publisher: Egmont UK
ISBN: 978 1 4052 7266 7
Binding: Hardback, 288 pages
The Book: Stand by for action, we’re about to launch into a world where anything can happen! Discover the iconic comic strips that captured the thrill and excitement of Gerry Anderson’s cult 21st Century TV series and read about the geniuses who created them. Featuring Fireball XL5, Thunderbirds, Stingray, Captain Scarlet, Zero X, Joe 90, Lady Penelope, Marina and The Angels, this exciting collection is perfect for Gerry Anderson Supermarionation fans everywhere.
The Review: Last year, Egmont UK published Thunderbirds: The Comic Collection and their reprints of strips from the 1960s comics TV Century 21, Lady Penelope and Joe 90: Top Secret continue with this new and impressive Gerry Anderson Comic Collection, complemented by the simultaneous release of Inside the Worlds of Gerry Anderson, an equally impressive collection of terrific cutaways from the 1990s Egmont-published Gerry Anderson comics featuring the splendid work of Graham Bleathman.
This Gerry Anderson Comic Collection offers a host of strips (note the story titles are not original), the hardback well worth the cover price given the page count, as well as some interesting supportung features.
Included are three Fireball XL5 strips: “The Vengence Of Saharis”, “Electrode 909” and “The Giant Ant Invasion”, with Mike Noble delivering the goods in spades on the art front (and he’s also the artist on both Zero X tales featured); the origin story of the Stingray crew’s undersea ally, Marina, from Lady Penelope drawn by the brilliant Rob Hamilton whose work on the “Secret Agent 21” strip for TV Century 21 makes it one of my favourite all-time stories.
We also get the origin of The Angels of Captain Scarlet fame from the same title drawn by Jon Davis; and two Lady Penelope tales drawn by Eric Eden, credited to writer Tod Sullivan from early issues of TV Century 21 before she jumped to her own comic, “Behind Enemy Lines” a cracking tale set in the fictitious one party state of Bereznik, a regular foe for the Thunderbirds team and Secret Agent 21, and “Steelman Strikes Back”, which was a follow up to the first Lady P story published.
The Stingray strips by Ron Embleton featured are “The Flying Fish Mystery” and ‘The Monster Weed”; and “The Medallion Mystery”, drawn by Ron’s brother Gerry – stories that have been regularly reprinted but still impressive for their visuals. While I wasn’t a regular reader of TV Century 21 when it was first published – at 7d, it was very expensive for the time – there’s imagery from these strips that remains seared into my memory to this day.
Thunderbirds is represented by “Jungle Adventure”, “Danger In Deep” and “Seeking Disaster” the latter the last to be drawn by Frank Bellamy for the comic. They are great choices, despite seeing frequent outings in past reprints.
Zero X – a spin-off strip featuring characters from the film Thunderbirds Are Go, beautifully drawn by Mike Noble, is represented by the first story published, “Return To The Red Planet” – yay! Martian Rock Snakes! – and “Prisoners of the Star”.
Captain Scarlet stories included are “Destroy Earth Comms”, “Secret Mission” and “Blue Mysteronised”, the latter one of the better known comic stories in which Captain Scarlet’s frequent foil apparently becomes a Mysteron agent. This is a great tale with some of Noble’s best art on the strip, in my opinion.
The collection rounds off with two Joe 90 tales, originally from Joe 90: Top Secret but for this collection, Egmont have used the coloured versions published in the 1990s comic. Joe 90 is not my favourite show, but he’s a character I was pleased to get a crack at writing for the recently-released TV21 Issue 243 released with the Supermarionation box set from Network, drawn by Mike Collins. The idea of a nine-year-old boy taking on the brain patterns of some specialist and his step father not blinking an eyelid at him, on occasion, turning into a cold-blooded killer of dangerous spies and enemies of freedom, still sits uneasily with me.
Given that the strips are scanned from the comics and not the surviving original artwork still lurking in the Daily Express archives, the print quality isn’t quite as impressive as the past Reynolds & Hearn collections of various Anderson strips, but the design team on this book have clearly worked hard to deliver a quality product, helped by the fact that the original comics were published on good quality paper and printed using Photogravure. (Unlike a lot of British comics of the period, and beyond it). But the stories themselves – if you don’t already own them – are great reads and coming in at just under 300 pages, the book makes for a terrific, well-chosen collection.
Here’s hoping it’s the first of many.
• The Gerry Anderson Comic Collection is available now from all good bookships, physical and digital, worldwide. Official web site: www.egmont.co.uk and http://classiccomics.egmont.co.uk/shop-thunderbirds
• For more about the Gerry Anderson comic strips, check out the definitive internet source is the Complete Gerry Anderson Comic History
“Overall, The Gerry Anderson Comic Collection is a worthy addition to the bookshelves of anyone interested in the best of British comics…”
— Lew Stringer, Blimey! It’s Another Blog About Comics
“As you should tell from my enthusiasm these aren’t reprints we’ve had time and again, this book includes ones that haven’t been done in a long while. Buy the book and praise Egmont. They might even be encouraged to print more and even as separate volumes as they’ve done with ‘Thunderbirds’ this year. I’m being spoilt. Hide this book from your sprogs and have some real pleasure reliving your past. British comicstrip art was never as good as this again.”
— GF Willmetts, for SFCrowsNest