Monday, August 13, 2012

Start the Countdown!

On 20th February 1971, Polystyle Publications launched Countdown comic, the latest science fiction paper focusing on famous characters such as Doctor Who, Thunderbirds and Captain Scarlet

An unique feature for Countdown was that the number count went backwards, counting down towards the end of the issue! When you reached the end it said "Countdown at 1 .... Countdown resumes next week!". Countdown used the countdown numbers as their contents page, but if you were looking for Dr. Who strip and saw that it was on page 20, you'd probably turn towards the back of the comic - only to find yourself on page 5!
Inside the front cover was a feature allowing readers to vote for the stories and features they wanted to see inside the comic. You could vote for things such as Joe 90 (who had his own comic a couple of years earlier), astronomy and computers. And if you didn't want any of those - you could write in your own suggestions as well!
Deninis Hooper was the editor of Countdown, adn he introduces himself to us in the Countdown Begins page. He claims they use the best and most expensive type of printing, meaning that it cost 5p. Five pence was quite a bit more that many of it's rival comics - costing around 3 - 3 1/2p for 32 pages. 

This page also shows us part of the free gift - a giant spacefact wallchart - with free stickers (or stamps as they were called), to stick around the edges. The rest of the stamps were given away in the following issues.
Almost all the strips and features were based in space, with the only exception been the only humour comic strip in the publication - Dastardly and Muttely, illustrated by Peter Ford.
On pages 4 and 5 (numbered 20 and 19), we see a very special Doctor Who strip, the first of many to come in Countdown. Illustrated by Harry Lindfield, this full colour strip looked very nice within the pages of the comic! It is also important to notice that Countdown credited it's artist (except for Peter Ford, who drew Dastardly and Muttley), as pretty much no British comic had done this before - D.C. Thomson wouldn't allow signatures to appear until seeral decades later!
Gerry Anderson's latest television show was UFO, and Countdown seemed to be showing a lot (or was planning to in future issues)of comic strips based on his shows. UFO was a five page strip, but also had a cutout game of battleship, but with UFO's not ships!
Even the advert interrupting UFO was space themed, advertising the 'Race Into Space' card album, by Brooke Bond!
Countdown, a strip named after the comic, featured on pages 4 and 3, illustrated by John Burns. Unlike a majority of the strips in the comic, this was brand new - not taken off the box (except for the spaceship designs, which come from 2001: A Space Odyssey).

The last strip in the comic was Captain Scarlett, illustrated by John Cooper.

The back page featured an advert for the latest models from Dinky, including a Lotus F1 racing Car and a Ford snow plough!

1 comment:

peter Last said...

Hello, I'm originally from Christchurch and for over 50 years have wanted to reread the 1960 Buster comic seeies "Johnny all alone, an orphan in outer space". Is it possible to somehow view it in its entirety?
Thankyou, Paul