Hot on the heels of Volumes One and Two of their UFO comic anthologies, Anderson Entertainment has announced its next collection of classic comic reprints – the Fireball XL5 60th Anniversary Comic Anthology, which will also feature a very special new strip, written and drawn by Lee Sullivan.
This years sees the 60th anniversary of the show’s first broadcast, back on 28th October 1962, one of the earliest series created by Gerry Anderson and his team. In a recently streamed video chat with comic artist and fan of the series, Lee Sullivan, Jamie Anderson, head of Anderson Entertainment, revealed he felt he couldn’t let this milestone pass without some kind of celebration – and this new book is it.
The new Fireball XL5 60th Anniversary Comic Anthology will be released at the end of this month, a massive 330-page hardback volume that will collect every “Fireball XL5” comic strip in one place, from the pages of the legendary weekly comic, TV Century 21 (latterly, TV21) in one place.
Fireball XL5 first appeared in comic form in TV Comic in 1963 and 1964, drawn by Neville Main, and there were annuals, too, but it was in the pages of TV Century 21 that the show’s format took on new dimensions of drama and excitement, and, unlike the television series, in glorious full colour from 1965 to 1967.
Several artists worked to bring the strip to life, including Dan Dare creator Frank Hampson on one story, but by far the most famous of these was the late Mike Noble, whose spectacular artwork lent a dynamic energy to the majority of the “Fireball XL5” TV Century 21 adventures.
“He would be really pleased with this [anthology],” says Lee, recalling Mike Noble with great fondness in the trailer video, “because it’s such a great volume of work.”
The anthology features a specially commissioned piece of Mike’s “XL5” art on the front cover of the new collection, adapted by Lee for the collection, a fantastic package that see the brave Fireball XL5 crew encounter giant animals, hordes of zombie snowmen, and foil the vengeful plans of Piil and Truen. They also engage in a bit of time travel, the hijacking of the Electrode 909 – and, most famously, the threat of interplanetary war following the assassination of the Astran Kaplan.
This latter storyline was one of TV Century 21’s earliest attempts to create a shared universe between the Anderson shows it featured, with both Lady Penelope and the cast of Stingray lending a hand in solving the mystery – and the Fireball XL5 60th Anniversary Comic Anthology has naturally retained these guest appearances, too.
Taking inspiration from the shared universe idea that was an integral part of TV21, the collection also boasts some brand new content. Lee Sullivan has been working hard to create a brand-new adventure, that brings together the crew of Fireball XL5 with other familiar faces from the Supermarionation universe. Again, the video teases some of the elements of this special crossover story, both written and drawn by Lee.
The Fireball XL5 60th Anniversary Comic Anthology goes on pre-order soon. There will be a special edition, too – and Jamie Anderson told downthetubes that there will be more teasers for the collection in a new video on the Gerry Anderson TV YouTube Channel, due to air this Friday (14th October), featuring preview Fireball XL5 pages, both classic and new.
“I’m very excited, says Jamie. “I think there are a lot of happy people, seeing ‘Xl5’ collected in this way, “and some extra story material, too.”
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
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
Special thanks to Jamie Anderson for the Anthology sample pages used in this item
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. He is currently editor of Star Trek Explorer, published by Titan – his third tour of duty on the title originally titled Star Trek Magazine.
Working in British comics publishing since the 1980s, his credits include editor of titles such as Doctor Who Magazine, Babylon 5 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.