If you thought the first collection of “UFO” comic strips from Anderson Entertainment, curated by Shaqui Le Vesconte, was an enjoyable 1970s nostalgia trip, then prepare to be blown away by UFO Comic Anthology Volume Two – because it’s even better.
Just released, UFO Comic Anthology Volume Two delivers a superb collection of colour and black and white strips from the successor to the sadly short-lived Countdown weekly SF-driven comic, TV Action. (Which was, technically, the same comic from Polystyle Publications, its name changed for reasons explained in the collection, but, essentially, reflecting the growing dominance of action adventure series in terms of TV entertainment, back in 1971 and ‘72).
Based on Gerry and Sylvia Anderson’s first live action comic TV series of the same name, the “UFO” strips of TV Action feature art by artists such as Brian Lewis, Jon Davis, and John M. Burns.
The storylines of these strips are often even more bizarre than some of the weirder TV episodes they are based on. While the action adventure of the tales is not in doubt, the art superb, the reproduction of these vintage stories impressive throughout, and some entertaining stories featured, reader credibility on some is definitely stretched to the limit.
Surely, for example, even the most enthusiastic of UFO fan might have balked at a story that sees Ed Straker, commander of the secret organisation SHADO, protecting Earth from alien invasion, shrunk to miniature size, rescued by an equally diminutive Paul Foster in an alien robot? Or how about a bizarre tale that sees the mysterious aliens take advantage of a discovery that enables them to enter the “spirit world”, to wreak havoc on SHADO’s secret headquarters? Or the aliens recruiting a demon-worshipping cult to attack their ever vigilant enemy?
That said, such “out there” tales simply add a new layer of enjoyment to the stories, which also develop the occasionally touched on themes of alien allies helping the would be invaders, and straight out battles on Earth and the moon against a deadly, enigmatic enemy.
But we don’t just get the TV Action strips in this fantastic collection. Also included are articles and interviews by Anderson comics expert Shaqui Le Vesconte, giving the reader context and revealing insights into TV Action‘s history, its competition on the newsstand, that contributed to its fall and eventual merger with TV Comic, its artists and UFO‘s life in comics.
These articles include an archive interview with the late Jon Davis MBE, revealing more of his comics work; and some terrific background features delving into Italy’s UFO magazines, the series as much-loved there as it was by those of us who were able to see it on first transmission here in the UK.
For those of you who have only ever seen the covers of the Italian UFO magazines at postage stamp size on the web, we’re treated to full page reproductions of many in this collection, and as icing on the cake, the inclusion of “UFO – Witness to the Harvest”, an unreleased pilot comic drawn by Christopher Jones (perhaps now best known for his work on DC Comics Young Justice and Titan Comics Doctor Who titles), inked by Joseph Rubenstein, coloured by Matt Webb; and a special feature on UFO 1988 – the Japanese manga sequel.
Quite honestly, I admit to being blown away by the work put into this two-book collection of strips based on the classic television series, but I think I enjoyed this second volume all the more for not being as familiar with the strips featured, compared with the first. Yes, some tales are utterly bonkers – but they’re a moment in time in Gerry Anderson comic history, and more than worthy of representation in this excellent book.
Congratulations to all involved. This is an absolute blast and essential purchase for UFO fans. It’s also benchmark stuff when as an example of how to present vintage British comics in collection, easily on a par with Rebellion’s Trigans Empire and Titan’s Dan Dare collections. Other publishers, take note.
• The UFO Comic Anthology Volume Two is available here from the Gerry Anderson web store
• 320 pages of never-before-collected strips;
• Every UFO strip from 1970s comic TV Action
• Cleaned up and restored from original comics; plus exclusive in-depth articles and interviews
• Not got UFO Comic Anthology Volume One yet? Read our review here, or just head over to the Gerry Anderson store and buy it here
• Artist Christopher Jones, who drew the unpublished “UFO” strip that features in UFO Comic Anthology Volume Two, guides us through his creative process on his official blog here, here and here
Categories: British Comics, British Comics - Collections, Comics, downthetubes Comics News, downthetubes News, Features, Other Worlds, Reviews, Television
Excellent review John.I totally agree with you Volume 2 even surpasses Vol 1.
Why don’t they do one of the Countdown Thunderbirds strips by Don Harley as they always get ignored.