Friday, 15 June 2012

1975: SPACE:1999 - THE AMERICAN COMICS

According to that column on the right (unless you are looking at the mobile device version), you'll see that this is Slow-Robot's 199th post.  So far.  So soon.  What better way to celebrate this milestone than with a cover gallery of the US run of SPACE:1999 comics and magazines (containing - err - comics) from the seventies.

Both of these titles, published by (now defunct) Charlton Comics (who also published some seventies bionic comic books), launched in the summer of 1975 (with November '75 cover dates).

The four-colour comic appeared bi-monthly, clocking up seven issues in a year.  Each issue included 22 pages of new comic strip, a two page text story (of little note) and the usual adverts to help pay the bills.  The run deserves a footnote in US comics history for providing John Bryne with early work.  Issues 1-6 follow the format of the first TV season (with an adaptation of Breakaway, the opening TV episode, in the first).  The final issue switches to Year Two with an adaptation of the scene-setting TV episode The Metamorph.

The monthly black & white magazine was also strip-based but didn't duplicate material from the comic book.  It clocked-up eight issues (so, thanks to publishing schedules, generated more issues but was actually cancelled before the comic) and, again, only adopted the second season format for its final issue.

Presumably Charlton abandoned the license after a year when it became clear that the syndicated TV show wasn't generating enough enthusiasm amongst readers to justify continuing.

The TV show, filmed by ITC Productions at Pinewood Studios in the UK, was a big budget attempt to muscle in on the US TV market with a glitzy effects-heavy show.  When all three broadcast networks passed on the project (despite casting US 'stars" Landau and Bain in the main roles), ITC were forced to hawk it around local stations in first-run syndication.  The po-faced first season wowed with its state-of-the-art visuals (and a stinking line-up of guest stars) but failed to capture much of the excitement of sitting on an out-of-control moon zooming through uncharted space (science not being one of the show's strong points).  The re-worked second year drafted in new talent in front and behind the camera (including the departure of Sylvia Anderson as her marriage, and creative partnership with hubby Gerry, disintegrated) and a revitalised show which looked better even if the quality of the writing generally declined.

Charlton Comics, part of a larger publishing empire, was a notoriously cut-price operation which, uniquely, did every stage of the comic/ magazine-making process in-house. Established in 1946, Charlton Comics soldiered-on until 1985 before finally bailing-out of the business.

SPACE:1999 - THE COMIC BOOK

ISSUE 1
November 1975



ISSUE 2
January 1976

ISSUE 3
March 1976

ISSUE 4
May 1986

ISSUE 5
July 1976

ISSUE 6
September 1976

ISSUE 7
November 1976

SPACE 1999 - THE MAGAZINE

ISSUE 1
November 1975





ISSUE 2
January 1976

ISSUE 3
March 1976

ISSUE 4
May 1976

ISSUE 5
July 1976

ISSUE 6
August 1976

ISSUE 7
September 1976

ISSUE 8
October 1976

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