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TV 21 started out as TV Century 21 and was to compliment the TV shows out at that time.

In issue 185 it became TV 21 and in September 1969 it joined Joe 90.
When TV 21 & Joe 90 finished in 1971 TV 21 went on to join with Valiant.

Haven't seen the ghost rider from TV21 since I was a kid. It reminded me of the comic that I used to read, that was called Countdown. Science fiction, all the space ships and hardware were copied from 2001 a Space Wossname. You don't mention it, I think it may have been bought out by TV21, all I remember (Being ten at the time) was that Countdown stopped comming and TV21 turned up. The other thing I remember from TV21 was the gold Dalek with the big head, great stuff, thanks for the nostalgia burst. - Gareth Owens

The comic began, and had its most successful stage, as a vehicle for Gerry Anderson's superb British shows such as Supercar, Fireball XL5, Stingray and, later on Thunderbirds and Captain Scarlet. For padding it did use strips of My Favo(u)rite Martian, The Munsters and Burke's Law but it was mainly Anderson shows that gave it its popularity.
Much later in 1970 and 1971 when the comic was well into decline and advertising revenue had all but disappeared its pages were filled with Marvel reprints like The Ghost Rider, Spider-Man and The Silver Surfer as well as very forgettable home-grown products. - Simon Smith

Re the letter from Gareth Owens, as I recall it, 'Countdown' was first published around the time that Gerry Anderson's 'UFO' was first broadcast. I had just started secondary school around this time so this would be 1970/1971. 'TV21' had been going well before that as it featured Thunderbirds, Stingray, Fireball XL5 , plus the super secret agent Agent 21 ( whose secret cover was a toy salesman for 21st Century Toys; all his toy 'samples' were actually weapons or other devices!) I still have some TV21 annuals and a Countdown annual (I think there was only one published.) - Dave C

Assistant editor of TV Comic was the recently (and very sadly) deceased Allan Fennell who, after tv comic, went on to be editor of TV Century 21 and then editor of Look-in.

Fennell brought Supercar and Fireball XL5 to tv comic before they appeared in the magnificent TV21. Not only did Fennell later edit TV Century 21, but he wrote many of the strips as well as a number of episodes of the Anderson television series themselves.

Supercar and Fireball XL5 were drawn, respectively, by Bill Mevin and Neville Main in TV Comic. Mike Noble drew Fireball - superbly - in TV Century 21, as well as Zero X and Captain Scarlet. I also believe that Noble drew the Range Rider in TV Comic prior to working on TV21. The great Frank Hampson (original artist for Dan Dare in the Eagle) drew one Fireball story in TV Century 21. Hampson was succeeded in drawing Dan Dare by Frank Bellamy at the Eagle. Bellamy went on to draw Thunderbirds for TV Century 21.

Mike Noble also drew for Look-in, as did artist John Burns who drew the title strip in Countdown, featuring the spacecraft designs from 2001. Both worked - independently - on the space 1999 strip amongst others at Look-in.

Neville Main was also the first artist to draw Dr Who in TV Comic, followed by Bill Mevin (who also drew Space Patrol for TV Comic) and John Canning. Much later, after the incorporation of Countdown into TV Comic, Gerry Haylock drew Dr Who (do i remember Haylock drawing a strip about a policeman in eagle many years earlier?) as he had done in Countdown/TV Action beforehand. He was preceded in this task at Countdown by Harry Lindfield (and briefly by Frank Langford, who drew the Persuaders strip after having worked on Lady Penelope, TV21's sister comic). John Burns took a turn at drawing Dr Who in a 1970s annual.

other great artists at tv century 21 were ron embleton, who drew captain scarlet and stingray; richard jennings, who drew the daleks and had worked for the eagle previously and ron turner, who drew the daleks so stylishly after jennings left the strip. - Richard

I always felt that TV Comic had its own unique style. This was mostly due to its artists, such as Neville Main, Bill Mevin, Bill Titcombe, Dick Millington,etc, who rarely (if ever) drew for the rival comics. You'd certainly not confuse it with any Fleetway or D.C. Thomson comic, and its individuality was quite refreshing. I also liked the fact that it had so much variety in its art styles, rather than the "house style" that other companies strived for. The mixture of stories was good too. What company today would consider putting Doctor Who, Bugs Bunny and Laurel and Hardy in the same comic? (Current publishers put each character in seperate comics and so splinter their readership and sales!) In theory, the combination of differing strips sounds disasterous, but in practice it worked, and ensured TV Comic a very long run of more than 30 years. - Lew Stringer

There were two series of TV 21. The first series ran for 242 issues from 20th January 1965 to 6th September 1969 (but dated 20th January 2065 to 6th September 1969) before merging with the short lived Joe 90 comic to become TV 21 and Joe 90. The second series (and it was a seperate series as they started numbering the issues from number 1 again) ran for 105 issues from 13th September 1969 to 25th September 1971 (but this time carrying the date that it was actually published) before being incorporated into Valiant. The covers used to be a mock-up of a newspaper cover from the future. This may have been inspired by an edition of the Eagle which did a 1990s newpaper cover on one of their issues. One of the strips in the original TV 21 was Zero X. The Zero X expedition to Mars was featured in the first Thunderbirds film Thunderbirds are Go. By the time the second series of TV 21 finished the only strip based on a tv series left in the comic was Star Trek (which had previously appeared in Joe 90). Star Trek continued in Valiant. - Clive Huggett

I also remember Nosey Parker as a page in the 60's. He was, of course, Lady Penelope's butler but received his own strip in pencil drawing. One of the major attractions for children (boys) were the 'free gifts' which were adverstised on television over the years. I recall the agent 21 coder with the revolving dial of letters and the adhesive agent 21 badge. It was also possible to purchase the gold agent 21 broach. The sticky back International Rescue hand badge was also sought after. I remember buying Joe 90 and building the elastic band propelled cardboard car. Lots of happy times. the Front page of TV 21 was always designed like a newspaper headline with colour photos taken from the sets. This gave the opportunity for many to see Colonel Steve Zodiac and his successors in full colour for the first time as all TV's were monochrome.

I was an avid fan of TV (Century) 21 in the Sixties (my early teens) and my most abiding memory is related to its newspaper-like frontpage format. The headline was something like "Spaceman Feared Dead", or something similar, and referred to some peril involving Steve Zodiac of "Fireball XL5", the issue concerned was published in the same week that Russian Cosmonaut Vladimir Komarov lost his life when his capsule failed to release its parachutes and burnt up on re-entry. - Martin Butler.

When the Star Trek strip appeared in Joe 90, the show hadn't yet been on TV so the fact that a tin-eared lettering artist called the main character "Captain Kurt" went unnoticed. - Stephen Haigh

If you have any other information on TV21 please drop us a line. Drop us a line.

 


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