Sunday, January 20, 2013

44 Years Ago: Joe 90 Comic Is Launched!

Joe 90 was a television show from the hands of Gerry Anderson. It launched in September 1968 but the final episode was shown only a few months later in April 1969. However, three months before it finished Joe 90 comic was launched, or going by its full name - Gerry Anderson's Joe 90 [Top Secret]. For 8D you got 20 pages, six of which were in full colour and a free gift - Mac's Jet Car Kit! Now I don't own the original free gift, but I managed to find a photo of one somewhere on the net.

Instructions on how to make the car, along with a few facts, were to be found inside.

The first strip is called Joe 90, and is basically a Joe 90 adventure in which he has to retrieve some missiles from a sunken ship. The 'Joe Facts' at the top has nothing to do with the story, but basically gives you a little fact about a character or machine from the program.

The next strip is Ninepence + Tenpence = Sport. Whereas I'm sure they could have thought of a better name for the strip, the script is very good, as is the artwork that accompanies it.

Star Trek sits proudly in full colour in the centre spread, and has some of the best artwork in the comic (by Harry Lindfield?). I'm not really a huge fan of science fiction films so have never seen Star Trek, but this one was based on the television series and was probably the first taste of Star Trek many people in the U.K got.

Land Of The Giants was a popular strip based on the T.V show of the same name, and was the other full colour strip in the comic. Later on in the comic's short life it would become the main cover star, and some brilliant front cover illustrations were produced for it!

Here is a fantastic cover featuring a Land Of The Giants illustration presumably by Gerry Haylock, who drew the weekly strip.

The only advertisement I am going to mention is this one, which advertised the following issue of Joe 90 and the free gift that came with it. Again, I don't have the free gift, but I found scans of it on the net.

The back page was taken up with a full colour photograph of a Lotus racing car. The space could have been used better, but I like Lotus so it doesn't bother me too much.

Joe 90 [Top Secret] didn't last long, merging into TV21 after just 34 issues. There were a few spin offs from the comic, such as the Joe 90 Dossier shown below, but I'll take a look at those in another post.

One thing I will mention here however is the Joe 90 [Top Secret] Comic Annual. Although there were (to my knowledge) two other Joe 90 annuals, this was the only one related to the comic. It was released in 1969 (probably for 1970) and features a mix of comic strips, articles and jokes.

This was my first taste of Joe 90 and it originally cost 12'6 (or 62.5 'new pence', as decimalisation was just coming in), although I got it for £1.50 as a birthday present for my dad several years ago, but before giving it to him I took a read of it (of course)! It features some brilliantly interested strips, my favourite being Land Of The Giants, illustrated by an unknown artist.

If you'd like to find out more about the Joe 90 comic, I recommend two websites. The first one features a complete cover gallery, and the second, The Gerry Anderson Complete Comic History, goes much more in depth.


Lew Stringer said...

Yes, I think the Star Trek strip made its debut just before the series came to British tv. Seems the writer of the strip had little reference, or had mis-heard, because Captain Kirk was called Captain KURT for at least one issue.

By the way, I don't know who drew that Land of the Giants strip you've shown from the annual but it's definitely not by Ron Turner.

George Shiers said...

A funny little comics fact there! At least it was sorted out before too long!

As for the annual - I've edited it out, thanks!