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The Decline of TV21 
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Joined: Wed Jul 31, 2013 1:03 am
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We all know that TV Century 21 was a brilliant comic when it first started, but a pale shadow of its former self by the time it was merged with Valiant six years later. At what point would you say that it started to lose its sparkle? Was it when the Daleks ended, or when Fireball Xl5 was relegated to one page? Or was it some other factor entirely? Feel free to vent your views. (Hallooooooo - is there anybody there?)


Fri Aug 09, 2013 8:49 am
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Fireball's reduction to one page was a blow, but one more than made up for by the opportunity to see Don Lawrence's version of Steve & co. and Mike Noble's Zero X. The rot certainly set in with volume 2 and the loss of Frank Bellamy - though even then there were still some good things to look forward to like Mike Noble's version of Star Trek. Before that, however, I remember being particularly disappointed when the last page of Mike's 4-page Captain Scarlet strip was suddenly changed from colour to black & white without any warning.

- Phil Rushton


Fri Aug 09, 2013 6:24 pm
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In my case, the decline and fall took place before I became comic-aware, so I can't really add to this discussion. Plus, I do not believe I even have a single copy of that comic.

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Fri Aug 09, 2013 6:42 pm
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philcom55 wrote:
Fireball's reduction to one page was a blow, but one more than made up for by the opportunity to see Don Lawrence's version of Steve & co. and Mike Noble's Zero X. The rot certainly set in with volume 2 and the loss of Frank Bellamy - though even then there were still some good things to look forward to like Mike Noble's version of Star Trek. Before that, however, I remember being particularly disappointed when the last page of Mike's 4-page Captain Scarlet strip was suddenly changed from colour to black & white without any warning.

- Phil Rushton


Hi, Phil. To be honest, this far on in time, I find it hard to pin-point exactly when is started to lose its lustre. However, I do remember being disappointed when the Daleks suddenly disappeared. and although I continued to buy it off and on over the years, it was never really quite the same again for me. At least, that's how it seems to me on this side of Time's fence.


Fri Aug 09, 2013 6:44 pm
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colcool007 wrote:
In my case, the decline and fall took place before I became comic-aware, so I can't really add to this discussion. Plus, I do not believe I even have a single copy of that comic.


I think one probably had to be the right age and experience it at the time, 007. (Why do I suddenly feel compelled to say "Do pay attention, 007!"?) Although you'd be able to appreciate the artwork on a technical level, the magic that accompanies childhood has to be present in order to get the full effect. Still worth looking out for a few early copies 'though.


Fri Aug 09, 2013 6:49 pm
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The first few issues of TV21 had a powerful appeal I've never forgotten (especially if, like me, you came to them from TV Comic) but I don't think it really started firing on all cylinders until Bellamy's Thunderbirds replaced Ron Embleton's rather boring Stingray on the centre pages.

- Phil R.


Fri Aug 09, 2013 7:18 pm
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Mr Valeera
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Kid Robson wrote:
colcool007 wrote:
In my case, the decline and fall took place before I became comic-aware, so I can't really add to this discussion. Plus, I do not believe I even have a single copy of that comic.


I think one probably had to be the right age and experience it at the time, 007. (Why do I suddenly feel compelled to say "Do pay attention, 007!"?) Although you'd be able to appreciate the artwork on a technical level, the magic that accompanies childhood has to be present in order to get the full effect. Still worth looking out for a few early copies 'though.
I do appreciate most comics on the technical level, which is why I am such a big Ian Kennedy fan. :D I will be honest and say what most puts me off the Countdown/TV21 output is the way the puppets are portrayed in the strips. No attempt is made by the artists to change them to a more human look. To me, it just makes them look disturbingly creepy.

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Fri Aug 09, 2013 8:36 pm
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colcool007 wrote:
Kid Robson wrote:
colcool007 wrote:
In my case, the decline and fall took place before I became comic-aware, so I can't really add to this discussion. Plus, I do not believe I even have a single copy of that comic.


I think one probably had to be the right age and experience it at the time, 007. (Why do I suddenly feel compelled to say "Do pay attention, 007!"?) Although you'd be able to appreciate the artwork on a technical level, the magic that accompanies childhood has to be present in order to get the full effect. Still worth looking out for a few early copies 'though.
I do appreciate most comics on the technical level, which is why I am such a big Ian Kennedy fan. :D I will be honest and say what most puts me off the Countdown/TV21 output is the way the puppets are portrayed in the strips. No attempt is made by the artists to change them to a more human look. To me, it just makes them look disturbingly creepy.


Couldn't agree there, 007. I thought Embleton and Noble did not a bad job of making the characters more human-looking, whilst retaining a good likeness in most instances. I like Ian Kennedy's work myself, actually. In a way, it kind of reminds me of Noble's.


Fri Aug 09, 2013 8:42 pm
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Philcom said: The first few issues of TV21 had a powerful appeal I've never forgotten (especially if, like me, you came to them from TV Comic) but I don't think it really started firing on all cylinders until Bellamy's Thunderbirds replaced Ron Embleton's rather boring Stingray on the centre pages.

- Phil R.

Ooer, I preferred Embleton to Bellamy. His Thunderbirds often seemed like you were viewing things through the wrong end of binoculars - even the close-ups. With Embleton, you felt you were right in there amongst the action. Both brilliant 'though.


Last edited by Kid Robson on Fri Aug 09, 2013 10:50 pm, edited 1 time in total.



Fri Aug 09, 2013 8:46 pm
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Kid Robson wrote:
Couldn't agree there, 007. I thought Embleton and Noble did not a bad job of making the characters more human-looking, whilst retaining a good likeness in most instances.


Yes. I always thought that drawing the characters as properly-proportioned human beings instead of TV Comic's large-headed puppets was one of TV21's major innovations.

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Kid Robson wrote:
Ooer, I preferred Embleton to Bellamy.


I was normally a huge fan of both Embletons, but I think Ron would be the first to admit that Stingray wasn't one of his best pieces of work. Of course, it didn't help that he had to integrate all those photos in the early episodes (though they did have a novelty appeal to begin with).

- Phil Rushton


Fri Aug 09, 2013 8:50 pm
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philcom55 wrote:
Kid Robson wrote:
Ooer, I preferred Embleton to Bellamy.


I was normally a huge fan of both Embletons, but I think Ron would be the first to admit that Stingray wasn't one of his best pieces of work. Of course, it didn't help that he had to integrate all those photos in the early episodes (though it did have a novelty appeal to begin with).

- Phil Rushton


I always preferred Ron to Gerry (not that I knew their names back then), but I still think that Ron's Stingray work is a delight. The fact that's it's inextricably linked to a particular period of my childhood may well influence my view, of course.


Fri Aug 09, 2013 10:08 pm
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I bought every issue of TV21 from issue 21 until its merger with Valiant (and all of the Valiant issues as well, still have them all) the decline, in my eyes, began when the newspaper style covers were dropped. It was fans reaction that made City Magazines bring them back but after a while they started putting football on the cover, I remember a large head shot of George Best. This had no place in a Gerry Anderson based sci fi comic but the end was nigh. Looking back I have no idea why I continued to have TV21 every week after it started again with the new series although it did pick up slightly when Star Trek became the cover story - drawn by Mike Noble. But by then we had reprints of Spider-Man, Silver Surfer and The Ghost Rider (Western version) and it was on its last legs.


Fri Aug 09, 2013 10:14 pm
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stevezodiac wrote:
I bought every issue of TV21 from issue 21 until its merger with Valiant (and all of the Valiant issues as well, still have them all) the decline, in my eyes, began when the newspaper style covers were dropped. It was fans reaction that made City Magazines bring them back but after a while they started putting football on the cover, I remember a large head shot of George Best. This had no place in a Gerry Anderson based sci fi comic but the end was nigh. Looking back I have no idea why I continued to have TV21 every week after it started again with the new series although it did pick up slightly when Star Trek became the cover story - drawn by Mike Noble. But by then we had reprints of Spider-Man, Silver Surfer and The Ghost Rider (Western version) and it was on its last legs.


Although it had the same name (after dropping the 'Century') throughout all its incarnations, some of the later ones were so completely different that they bore no relation to the original concept or style. It's a real shame. I'd like to see Signum Books (or anyone) publish collected bound volumes of complete issues, but it's unlikely to happen.


Fri Aug 09, 2013 10:55 pm
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I read about the history of TV21 in a Fanderson magazine years ago (brought from a comic shop in Oxford called Rainbow's End. Sadly long gone).

One of the key factors which affected TV21 was too much chopping and changing of artists and formats.

The key killer blow for TV21 I've pinpointed was the merger with TV Tornado which saw both a now text Fireball XL5 and Stingray (relegated to black and white) both cancelled to make way for the likes of Tarzan and The Saint.

Prior to that there were the big mistakes of temporarily removing the news front cover for the start of the Captain Scarlet strip (if it ain't broke...) and introducing football strips which was caused when, following on from England's 1966 World Cup Victory, giving an appetite for footie, readers complained about the lack of football coverage & stories in the comic.

The editor could have just said it's not what TV21 does, and buy a footie comic if you want that; or just have a football features & fact page instead.

The merger with the failed Joe 90 comic was also one of the last nails in TV21's coffin, as this also coincided with Frank Bellamy's departure & John Cooper could just not do Thunderbirds as well as before.


Mon Aug 12, 2013 5:57 pm
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Yeah, if kids wanted to read about football, they should've just bought Tiger (home of Roy of the Rovers) instead.

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Tue Aug 13, 2013 10:28 am
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