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 although unofficial, 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…
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.
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.
However, 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.
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.
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.
Captain Scarlet and the Mysterons copyright ITV