Happy Birthday, Fireball XL5!

Marking the anniversary of the first broadcast of Fireball XL5 back in 1962, I’m delighted to offer you a totally unofficial homage to the show and the eponymous strip for the legendary weekly comic TV Century 21, a story conceived by and drawn by Bill Storie, dialogued by me, John Freeman.

The first episode of Fireball XL5 was broadcast on 28th October 1962. One of the earliest series created by Gerry Anderson and his team, the strips from TV Century 21 and Countdown have recently been collected by Anderson Entertainment in the Fireball XL5 60th Anniversary Comic Anthology, reviewed here.

The entire series is available on DVD and Blu-Ray by Network, and the theme tune features on the album Classic Theme Tunes, released by Supreme Media in 2013.

Fireball XL5, Gerry and Sylvia Anderson’s much-loved Supermarionation series is set in the year 2062, the World Space Patrol ship Fireball XL5 is assigned to Sector 25, where intrepid pilot Steve Zodiac, ably assisted by Doctor Venus and Professor Matthew Matic, faces such dangers as planetomic missiles, explosive gas clouds, space spies, and alien races both warlike and benign.

Bill’s comic is inspired by the series as visualised in TV Century 21, not the TV show, a strip drawn largely by Mike Noble, among others, hence the colour choices and and his tip of the hat to legendary artist in terms of strip style. “It was great fun to do,” he says.

Let’s go, Venus!

(Tap the images for full size reveal!)

Fireball XL5 by Bill Storie & John Freeman

(Tap the images for full size reveal!)

Fireball XL5 by Bill Storie & John Freeman

(Tap the images for full size reveal!)

Fireball XL5 by Bill Storie & John Freeman

• Order the Fireball XL5 60th Anniversary Comic Anthology here direct from the official Gerry Anderson store

Fireball XL5 60th Anniversary Comic Anthology - Cover by Mike Noble, adapted by Lee Sullivan

The Fireball XL5 60th Anniversary Comic Anthology features all of the 1960s TV21 comic-strip adventures of Fireball XL5 and Colonel Steve Zodiac from Anderson Entertainment.

The oversized, 336-page hardcover book features the artistry of the period’s finest UK talents, including Mike Noble, Ron Embleton, Frank Hampson, Eric Eden, Don Lawrence and Brian Lewis; and a previously unpublished illustration by Mike Noble graces the book’s cover.

Other highlights include strips from Countdown and the TV21 specials, as well as a brand-new 17-page adventure strip by renowned artist and Fireball XL5 mega-fan Lee Sullivan (Doctor Who, Transformers, 2000AD), which features Thunderbirds, Stingray, and Captain Scarlet interacting with Fireball and its crew.

Read our review of the Fireball XL5 60th Anniversary Comic Anthology

• Dedicated Fireball XL5 page on the official Gerry Anderson store

• Anderson Entertainment Official Site | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram |  YouTube | Pinterest

Another anniversary treat: a visual retelling of the Fireball XL5 Little Golden Book, written by Barbara Shook Hazen. Commander Zero’s son Jonathan embarks on an adventure with Steve Zodiac and the crew of Fireball XL5, where they discover a mysterious moon. Voiced by Wayne Forester and edited by Ross Arrowsmith.
Fireball XL5 60th Anniversary Announcement
Fireball XL5 60th Anniversary Live Stream – Comic Anthology Launch

Buy the UFO Anthology One

Features 288 pages of never-before-collected strips, every “UFO” strip from 1970s comic, Countdown, cleaned up and restored from original comics; plus exclusive in-depth articles and interviews

Buy the UFO Anthology Two

The second of two volumes offering the complete collection of UFO comic strips from Countdown and TV Action. Features 320 pages of colour and black and white strips from TV Action as well as articles and interviews by Anderson comics expert Shaqui Le Vesconte, giving the reader context and fascinating insights into TV Action’s history, artists and UFO‘s life in comics – and more!

Fireball XL5 TM & © 1969 and 2022 ITC Entertainment

The founder of downthetubes, which he established in 1998. John works as a comics and magazine editor, writer, and on promotional work for the Lakes International Comic Art Festival. Working in British comics publishing since the 1980s, his credits include editor of titles such as Doctor Who Magazine, Star Trek Explorer (previously known as Star Trek Magazine) and more. 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 "Pilgrim: Secrets and Lies" for B7 Comics; “Crucible”, a creator-owned project with 2000AD artist Smuzz; and “Death Duty” and “Skow Dogs” with Dave Hailwood.



Categories: Animation, British Comics, Comics, Creating Comics, downthetubes Comics News, downthetubes News, Other Worlds, Television

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