The Gerry Anderson Complete Comic History

Shaqui Le Vesconte presents the first of a two-part feature on Charlton Comics robust and most successful US Anderson-based titles, and speaks to assistant editor and chief writer Nicola Cuti about their mixed fortunes...

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Space:1999: Charlton (US) - 1975-76

Magazine cover issue 1 by Gray MorrowThe Gerry Anderson series had never really been major sellers in the US television market, with only Fireball XL5 having a successful network sale - the rest being seen in syndication. The live action UFO almost changed that, with a ratings success in New York that spurred the possibility of a belated second series in 1973. When the ratings suddenly dropped again, rather than waste the expensive preproduction work that had been heavily invested in, the format evolved into what eventually aired as Space:1999.

The comic situation in the US was markedly similar. Supercar, while syndicated, was popular enough to spawn four titles by Gold Key in the early 1960s, and this was followed up by the one-off Steve Zodiac and the Fireball XL5. None of the other Gerry Anderson series warranted interest in comic tie-ins, and it was to be the mid-1970s before another venture was tried.

The merchandising rights to Space:1999 in the US were handled by animation company Hanna-Barbera and, as the company had already done several titles for them, commissioned Charlton Publishing to produce a colour comic and black & white magazine tie-in. This clears up the confusion British fans had with some Space:1999 merchandise seemingly copyrighted to Hanna-Barbera rather than ATV Licencing, such as the LJN Roadstars die-cast toys.

Charlton Comics was the brainchild of Italian immigrant John Santangelo and disbarred attorney Edward Levy who met in jail, Santangelo for copyright infringement by printing unlicenced song sheet music, and Levy for involvement with a Waterbury political scandal. Becoming firm friends, on their release in 1935 they secured licencing to produce song lyric magazines, and both having sons called Charles named the new venture Charlton Publishing. While early titles simply featured lyrics, they would soon branch out and add features, photos and other material. By the late 1940s, Charlton established itself in Derby, Connecticut with a unique philosophy in US publishing. All editorial, printing and distribution were handled at one seven and a half acre site that eliminated external expenditure and maximized profit. Their early comic ventures, which started in 1945, were initially farmed out but by 1951 Santangelo created an in-house comics department. This eliminated the need for freelancers, with Charlton hiring staff artists, among them Dick Giordano (later to become Managing Editor before opening his own artists studio Continuity) and Steve Ditko. Staff writers were also hired, notably the prolific Joe Gill who would later contribute to the Space:1999 titles. However, by the time the Space:1999 titles were produced, freelancers were being used again.

'A Lonely Emperor'
Illustration: The introductory frames to A Lonely Emperor, issue 4, which re-emphasised the Space:1999 format - written by Joe Gill and illustrated by Carlos Pino.

Charlton had a reputation for low rates for both artists and writers, but by turns there was little editorial interference which allowed greater creative freedom. Because the entire print and production was in-house, it actually cost money for the presses not to be in use. The expansive range of genres - by the 1970s, Charlton were probably the only company still doing western, war and romance comics - can be attributed to the fact the output was required to meet this criteria. This did, however, also prove to be the breaking ground for much new talent into the market, among them John Byrne who worked on the Space:1999 comic.

Magazine cover issue 4 by Gray MorrowIn 1975 the production manager of Charlton Press, Ron Scott, informed George Wildman, editor of Charlton comics and magazines, and Nicola (Nick) Cuti, assistant editor, of the Space:1999 commission. Cuti would also be principal writer on the comic, and contribute to the magazine along with Joe Gill and, later on, Mike Pellowski. Born in Brooklyn in 1944, Cuti inherited his love of art from his father, a professional photographer. On completing his Air Force service in 1969, he later worked at Warren and DC comics before joining Charlton where he co-created E-Man with artist Joe Staton. Later moving to California, he worked as an animation background designer for Disney and Universal, but continued to do freelance illustration for magazines such as Twilight Zone and Amazing Stories. He recently created a space opera Captain Cosmos - The Last Starveyer, as a television pilot and a comic book. He also illustrated a Graphic Classics version of H.G. Wells' The Time Machine.

In November, two months after the UK debut of Space:1999, Charlton published the first issues of both simultaneously. The 36 page colour comic was published bi-monthly. The 68 page b/w magazine was also initially published bi-monthly though the details in the first issue, and an amended date for issue 2 indicate it was originally intended to be monthly from the start. Whereas in the UK, Space:1999 featured as a two page weekly strip in the Junior TVTimes Look-In, each issue of the US magazine would feature on average three stories ranging from 10 to 20 pages, with the comic averaging over 20 pages of strip for one or two stories. This allowed a more gradual development of story, though some British critics deride the pace as being somewhat narcoleptic by comparison. This is slightly unfair and betrays a naive view, as American comics have always enjoyed longer, monthly installments than the weekly and cliffhanger orientated British counterparts. Some stories, in fact, have a very similar feel to the British strips, such as The Possessed, A Lonely Emperor, An Alien Charm and Snowball. A more valid criticism is that some stories seem more appropiate to SF anthologies, simply altered to fit the Space:1999 characters in. While undoubtedly one of the better stories, with a sombre note very true to the feel of the first year of Space:1999, Dawn Of Extinction is very much in this vein with Koenig, Helena and Bergman being somewhat peripheral to most of the action.

"The reason for the black/white magazines," Nick Cuti recalls, "Was because we became aware of the fact that adults loved comics as well as kids but they were too embarrassed to be seen reading comics in public. So the comic companies created these magazines hoping to capture the adult market." These, according to Cuti, were fairly successful but eventually dropped as the difference in sales was not that great. But he admits there may have been other reasons for their demise.

Magazine cover issue 4 by Gray MorrowHowever, while impressed with the spectacular look and high production values of Space:1999, Nick Cuti had some reservations about the scripts, and offered his own critique as a professional writer. "As for my own personal views on the show, I liked several of the episodes but I was not a fan. Star Trek used many professional science fiction writers to pen episodes and it is why the show has lasted so long. I suspect Space:1999 used TV script writers because there was a lot of 'filler' - long, psuedo-intellectual dialogues and repetitive actions."

"The science was even faulty," Cuti continues with an observation often levelled at television SF, but particularly at Space:1999, "Such as when Koenig and crew met anti-matter duplicates of themselves (in the episode 'Matter of Life and Death') - which is a good sci-fi concept - but they touched and spoke together for a long time before they became dangerously in danger of annihilating each other. The annihilation should have been instantaneous. If it wasn't, they should have explained why but they just ignored this anomaly, something a professional sci-fi writer would never do."

Cuti was well versed in scientific and astronomy matters, being responsible for many of the factual articles that also appeared in the Space:1999 magazines (see above), replacing initial features on the Space:1999 production and stars. "Joe Gill had written many articles before entering comics and so it was easy for him but I had to depend on my love for science to carry me through them. I still read several books on physics and quantum mechanics as a hobby." These also gave Cuti a proving ground for his artistic side. "The unaccredited illustrations (on the articles) are mine. They are hardly very artistic but they gave me an outlet which helped me to build my confidence for my later illustrations for Amazing Stories, Hitchcock, Twilight Zone and Analog magazines."

Gray Morrow as Paul MorrowThe style and art on the magazines give an idea of the markedly different American approach to Space:1999 - and perhaps SF in general - with some subtle, and some not-so-subtle, changes. The first magazine stories refer to Eagles landing at their 'nests' and sees Moonbase Alpha possessing a flight of Hawks, later called a 'brood'. Some 'misconceptions' can perhaps be traced through the articles about the series that appeared in the magazine too. One can assume the writers were working from early production out-lines which gave erroneous information and variable spellings, such as Com-Loc. Carter's co-pilots are almost always women (but who can blame him!) but this is at odds with any televised episode and, one suspects, a predilection of the male writers and artists at Charlton. Art Editor and main artist, the late Gray Morrow, drew himself as controller Paul Morrow as a in-joke (see left), made necessary by only the likenesses of Martin Landau, Barbara Bain and Barry Morse being negotiated. "Since one of the characters was named Morrow," Nick Cuti recalls, "Gray obviously figured he would use himself as the model. We all saw the humor in it and decided it was a terrific idea."

Gray Morrow was recommended to work on the magazine by Nicola Cuti for several reasons, "First, I owed Gray a favour. He was responsible for getting me my first job, by recommending me to Ralph Bakshi for work at Krantz Animation Studio. Secondly, Gray was not only a very talented artist, whom I had admired since first seeing his work in Creepy and Eerie, but he had a very realistic drawing style and a facility for capturing features of individuals. Thirdly, he was one hell of a nice guy. I doubt if he had an enemy in the world." The artist had another factor in his favour, "Surprisingly, the charming Hanna-Barbara representative, whose name escapes me, was a friend of Gray's and said she was about to recommend him. So, Gray was definitely in."

Magazine cover issue 5 by Gray Morrow
Gray Morrow was originally to have done all the artwork for the magazine. "The only problem was that the magazine was too much for Gray to handle by himself." Cuti continues, "He went to other artists such as (Vicente) Alcazar and (Adolfo) Buylla and several of the people at Continuity Studios, run by Dick Giordano and Neal Adams. The final result was always top-knotch. These were all very talented artists and turned in excellent work, which had no problem getting past Hanna-Barbera's approval."

Where the British strips by writer Angus Allan and artists John Burns and Mike Noble were exciting but remained within well established boundaries for a (mainly) teenage readership, the US magazine strips dipped into fairly horrific situations and came close to disturbingly adult depictions. The greatest exponent of this was Spanish artist Vicente Alcazar who made his first notable contribution in issue 2. His style was very gothic and experimental, using a variety of techniques that could be described as 'monochrome psychedelic', and matching the nightmarish feel of episodes like 'Missing Link', 'End Of Eternity' and 'Dragon's Domain'.

Gray Morrow also painted the colour covers of the eight magazines and these are probably the highlight of any Space:1999 related art. While the covers of the second and seventh are perhaps a little mundane, it is the first (see top of page), fifth (right) and final issues (bottom of page) that stand out. The first was probably the most influential in the US, the art also gracing a jigsaw and later, laserdisc and video releases. A stylised line-art version was used for the Donruss Gum Card packs, and Morrow's slightly altered colour scheme for the uniforms was used on the Mattel dolls of Koenig, Helena and Bergman released in the US. Gray Morrow's likeness as Paul Morrow was also used by Power Records, who released stories as sets of a soundtrack and comic which you could listen to and read at the same time. Born in 1934, Morrow was largely self-taught and had a wide ranging career in illustration, producing work for many comics, the covers of over 100 Perry Rhodan novels for Ace Books and a graphic collection based on the stories of SF writer Roger Zelazny. Sadly, Gray Morrow died in November 2001, shortly after the release of a collection of his work called Visionary.

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Space:1999 Charlton magazine guide

Issue One (Vol.1, No.1)
Dated November 1975. Charlton Publications Inc.
Edited by George Wildman. Art Editor/Cover Art: Gray Morrow.

How Space:1999 Was Born! (feature)
Writer: Uncredited. 2 pages.
A short feature about the production of Space:1999.

'The Last Moonrise'The Last Moonrise
Writer: Nicola Cuti.
Art: Gray Morrow. 5 pages, b/w.
This opening strip is a potted adaptation of the first episode Breakaway, and sets the scene.
Gray Morrow's art is superior fare, aided by recognisable photographic reference.
One faux pas is the Eagle cockpit from which Carter views the Breakway itself, which is based on the cockpit of the Ultra Probe from the episode 'Dragon's Domain'. This error would also be apparent in the strips Seeds Of Doubt and Cornucopia.
A Charlton in-joke is also evident, with the two fighting astronauts helmets relabelled as 'Cuti' (after writer/editor Nicola Cuti) and 'Wildman' (editor George Wildman).
Gray Morrow's colour art for the cover of this first issue is still believed to exist, and was on sale at the 'Main Mission 2000' convention in America.

Seeds Of Doubt
Writer: Joe Gill.
Art: Unknown. 15 pages, b/w.
After an initial survey, planet Green shows high promise of being suitable for colonisation. Commander Koenig, Doctor Russell and Professor Bergman accompany Alan Carter for a more detailed exploration. However, whereas the first landing found no animal life, earth-like deer, pigeons and horses are seen. Koenig is attacked by a plant and rescued by Helena using a herbicidal spray, and the survey aborted when a large reptile appears. But while in flight Koenig is attacked by another plant specimen Helena and Bergman brought aboard. On Alpha, Koenig gives the command to evacuate Alpha for planet Green, deeming it suitable. But Carter suspects something is wrong and finds the real Koenig, Russell and Bergman still held captive by hostile plants in the Eagle laboratory...
'The Last Moonrise'Notes:
Straight-forward science-fiction clichés (shape-shifting and infiltration) are paired with a confusing array of art styles to produce an uneven tale. It looks as if more than one artist may have worked on the strip, and some frames are poor or redrawn copies of photos.
Viewers of the TV series may have been even more confused as the Eagle laboratory is depicted as similar to those on Alpha, giving the impression the location keeps jumping from one to the other!
Another faux-pas occurs in that the commlocks are shown being held by the antennae and the user looking at the 'image' where the identification picture is! This error would perpetuate through many of the magazine strips.
The idea of hostile plant life would later appear in the Year Two episode 'The Rules of Luton', and the strip This Green, Unpleasant Land in the ©1977 Space:1999 annual.

Finding A Home! (feature)
Writer: Uncredited. 1 page.
A short feature about the scheduling of Space:1999 on US TV.

Writer: Nicola Cuti. Art: Unknown. 10 pages, b/w.
An alien ship being pursued by two others is detected, and a flight of Hawks from Alpha are sent to assist. The two pursuers destroy a Hawk and Koenig is forced to retaliate, destroying one ship and crippling the other. The other alien ship lands to reveal a humanoid, Alcoba, who calls himself a Creator of Miracles before collapsing. He is taken to sickbay and nursed by Linda Petrillo, whom he shows a device called a cornucopia. This will apparently turn thoughts to reality, and lets Petrillo use it in the hope of brighting the grim lunar surroundings. Koenig is quite shocked to find her lounging in a luxuriously redressed sickbay later! Alcoba offers his apologies and gives the cornucopia to Koenig to use, and offers a demonstration. It can provide anything the Commander needs. But then Paul Morrow reports equipment has vanished from Alpha, and Bergman postulates that rather 'creating miracles', the cornucopia is a matter converter, and is merely transmuting material from anything on the base...

'Cornucopia'Alcoba is something of an SF cliché, the charming alien trader/con-man, but the reasoning behind the need to use the cornucopia - the fact the Alphans are trapped on a grey sterile moon - is worthy of merit.
The faux-pas of Alpha having flights of Hawk Interceptors, seen in the episode War Games, makes its debut here, and would continue in several other issues.
Some of the art, while uncredited, bears the style of Vicente Alcazar and he was possibly responsible for either the pencils or inks on some pages.

Visiting the Stars (feature)
Writer: Uncredited. 3 pages.
A feature on Martin Landau, Barbara Bain and Barry Morse.

Writer: Nicola Cuti. Art: Gray Morrow. 20 pages, b/w.
Planet Aries is earth-like but shows signs of having been ravaged by an ancient war. Koenig leads a landing party, instructed to land away from any city which may still be booby-trapped. These fears prove right, as an electronic eye activates robots which attack them. Taking shelter in a building, they discover what appears to be a beautiful woman survivor in suspended animation. Bergman finds a way of reviving her, and she instructs her android guards to repel the attack, allowing Koenig to lead them back to the Eagle and escape. But on Alpha the woman, Zhara, manages to somehow escape her locked quarters and kill a security officer. Koenig is unable to explain, until Bergman decodes a manual on Zhara, who is actually a humanoid war machine with a programme to kill the leader of any opposing force as a method of bringing peace...
Another interesting idea, using chess as an analogy for war, with Zhara as 'queen' and Koenig as the opposing 'king', also a play on the German origin of the name.
A couple of more detailed depictions of background Alphans suggest these may have been based on real people artist Gray Morrow knew or were at Charlton.
Morrow's penchant for depicting scantily clad women makes its 1999 debut here, with Zhara wearing next to nothing, and Helena shown in a short, sheer negligee.
The Letratone, beloved of graphic artists of the time, is almost included to the extent of overkill with even the codes for different tints (such as LT191 and 'Letratone' itself) being used on computer backgrounds and the like!

'The Possessed'Issue Two (Vol.2, No.2)
Dated January 1976. Charlton Publications Inc.
Edited by George Wildman.
Art Editor/Cover Art: Gray Morrow.

Life on Moonbase Alpha (feature)
Writer: Uncredited. 2 pages.
A short feature about Moonbase Alpha.

The Possessed
Writer: Joe Gill (uncredited).
Art: Gray Morrow (uncredited).
15 pages, b/w.
Investigating an alien derelict spaceship, Alan Carter is taken over by a strange cloud creature and behaves in an odd manner to his co-pilot Iris Blake. Bergman suspects that even though physical precautions again contamination have been taken, something else may have occurred. Helena has Dr. Julius Witzner observe Carter and Iris in the recreational pool, and the medic confirms that Carter is behaving oddly. But Carter has realised he is being observed and knocks out Witzner. Koenig and Helena confront Carter as he tries to alter the atmosphere content and kill the Alphans...
A nice story and artwork, in many ways reminiscent of the British Space:1999 strips and the episode 'Alpha Child'.
Carter's female co-pilot Iris from Seeds Of Doubt makes a reappearance.
Dr Witzner, interestingly, resembles Dr Mathias from the series.
Gray Morrow has more scantily clad woman around as Carter goes amuck in the swimming area but as he's only in his futuristic trunks too, we'll forgive him...

The Carrier (fiction)
Writer: Uncredited. 2 pages.
The crew of Eagle 7 investigate an asteroid which appears to be following the Moon, and find it to be artificial - with a terrifying secret...


Oops! The writer indicates that the Moon's velocity after the Breakaway is 'close to the speed of sound' (i.e. 700 miles per hour) but its orbital speed would already have been far in excess of this!

E Pluribus Unum
Writer: Nicola Cuti (uncredited).
Art: Vicente Alcazar (uncredited). 20 pages, b/w.
'E Pluibus Unum'On the seemingly prehistoric planet Volcania. Koenig, Helena and Bergman are captured by an armed force who take them to a vast metropolis. Tried by Kudo, the city's main computer, and found guilty of 'indecent exposure' they are sentenced to execution but this is stopped at the last minute when it is realised they are true aliens to the world and not simply those who have rejected the society. Their leader, Kel, explains that the inhabitants of Unum wear masks and dress uniformly, and that showing their faces is a sign of rebellion. The true rebels have broken into the the sity, and abduct Kel and the Alphans back to their base in the wilderness. Antiunum is devoted to the arts and sciences, but it is not long before the police track them down...
This story is so full of ideals that the plot becomes a little lost in them. Unum has order and peace but no humanity, while the outlaws keep art and science alive.
The final 'twist' that Unum needs Antiunum, and had been working towards a resolution, comes somewhat out of the blue, and has a rushed and curtailed feel to it.
The undoubted highlight is Vicente Alcazar's artwork, which lends a gothic feel to the monsters in the wilderness, and adds much atmosphere as a contrast to Gray Morrow's more clean-cut style.
The title is Latin for 'One From Many' (as explained in the strip), and was the original national motto of the United States.
All the strip credits in this second issue were omitted - 'an accidental oversight' Nick Cuti recalls - but he confirms he wrote this strip, and is reasonably sure Joe Gill (the only other credited writer for this issue) wrote the other two.

The Hope of Mankind? (fiction)
Writer: Uncredited. 2 pages.
A short speculative feature about the future of Moonbase Alpha.
The uncredited writer sees the Alphans as a cross-section of humanity - 'We have people of every race and nationality...' Koenig says - and that they will try to avoid the mistakes of the past when they find a new home.

The Mind Of The Snark
Writer: Joe Gill (uncredited). Art: Vicente Alcazar (uncredited). 15 pages, b/w.
Moonbase Alpha encouters a space station, the USSS Snark, which apparently broke out of orbit before the Moon's departure but which has been rebuilt on a vast scale. The station is on a collision course and Koenig's party are met by Lunda, a beautiful woman who turns out to an illusion. Sleep impulses force Koenig, Helena and Bergman into a dreamscape before the commander is confronted by a humanoid called Qit, who represent's the station's computer. The computer was evidently responsible for the Snark leaving orbit, and killed the crew as it saw them as degenerate and corrupt. Koenig is forced to battle Qit in a medieval illusion, where his combantant is a magician who conjures demons to fight him...
'The Mind of the Snark'
More interesting ideas, and Alcazar's art is definitely suited to the gothic feel of Koenig's medieval battleground - less so to the technology of Alpha or the space station.
Koenig's party use a Hawk to fly to the Snark
The Alpha computer is referred to as Com-Com (Command Computer), which was its name in early production outlines.
It is never revealed who, or what, caused the Snark to be a bigger and more developed station than the one which left Earth, nor how Qit obtained its powers of illusion.

Issue Three (Vol.2, No.3)
Dated March 1976. Charlton Publications Inc.
Edited by George Wildman. Art Editor/Cover Art: Gray Morrow.

The Moon (feature)
Writer: Nicola Cuti. 2 pages.
A short factual feature about the Moon.

The Old Gods Are Not Eternal
Writer: Mike Pellowski.
Art: Vicente Alcazar (uncredited). 15 pages, b/w.
'The Old Gods Are Not Eternal'An Earth-like planet offers more hope to the Alphans but a valley close to the landing site reveals structures identical to the Mayan civilisation. The buildings seem deserted but as Koenig and his party explore the occupants appear. Chief Montinima is peaceful and reveals his people are indeed Mayans, yet he wears a translation device of advanced design - a gift from Kukulcan. In the Temple of Revelations, he says Koenig will find answers. There an idol of Kukulcan, the mythical winged feathered serpent, and shows images of a flying saucer landing on Earth, with the Mayans worshipping the occupants and leaving with them. The Alphans theorise the alien planet was dying but the peaceful agrarian Mayans could revitalise it. Montinima believes Koenig may be questioning the 'old ways' of Kukulcan, and shows the Alphans a young woman chained in a dungeon who has had her tongue cut out for heresy and is due to be sacrificed. Helena is shocked and upset, and that night sets out to free the woman but she is caught...
Very reminiscent of the Doctor Who story 'The Aztecs' (modern disdain of sacrifice), and in someways, 'The Testament Of Arcadia' with the idea of a dying planet revitalised in the past.
Alcazar's gothic style compliments the subject matter superbly, with some quite dynamic art as a terrified Helena meets 'Kukulcan'.

Fly Me To The Moon (feature)
Writer: Joe Gill. 2 pages.
Another short factual feature about the Moon.

Writer: Mike Pellowski.
Art: Adolfo Buylla. 15 pages, b/w.
A peaceful interlude on Alpha is shattered as a meteor appears on a collision course. Carter leads a flight of Hawks to intercept and destroy it but the missile burst the meteor like a seed pod, dispersing large alien spores over the Moonbase. The Hawks return but one spore has stuck to the hull and the unfortunate pilot touches it. Immediately the parasitic fungus absorbs his body fluids and kills him. Bergman tells them to back off as the swollen mould grows and starts to come after any source of water, including humans...
A straight-forward story, with Buylla's cleaner graphic style downplaying the more horrific elements of the spores.

The Lone Satellite (feature)
Writer: Nicola Cuti. 2 pages.
A short feature about the phases of the Moon abd lunar eclipses.

Dawn Of Extinction
Writer: Nicola Cuti.
Art: Ed Davis (pencils), Gray Morrow (inks). 20 pages, b/w.
Jord and his son Delke live in the advanced city of Kalas on the planet Remo. Delke is about to go on his first hunting trip, for the rare Lemavus, and Jord instructs him on getting his first clean shot - with a camera gun. They are suddenly aware of three people - Koenig, Helena and Bergman - and welcome the Alphans as news of the approaching Moon has been widely known. The two groups enjoy each others company in what seems like an idyllic environment. But Koenig wonders what conservation is used to protect the rare animal herds seen. Jord tells him hunting is forbidden except by the Commission, who do so for food. But as they watch, a herd of Pankos is slaughtered illegally by Brand and his men. It would appear the paradise of Remo may have a serpent in the form of uncontrolled hunting, and Koenig warns Jord that if unchecked, what kind of world will be left for their children...
'Dawn of Extinction'
While verging on the melodramatic, this story is quite notable for its ecological issues. Nicola Cuti remarks, "Dawn Of Extinction and Cosmic Headache would be my own choices for my best Space:1999 stories. An English teacher of mine once commented that all science fiction was either social or political commentary. I disagreed with him then as I still do, but here I was able to make my own comments on ecology and social order. So, there is some validity in his mandate."
In some ways, Dawn Of Extinction is almost not a Space:1999 story as the main focus is the conflict between Jord and Brand.
It's a nice touch that, for once, the Alphans are seen socialising with the aliens, and stay with Jord and his family. But it is the quite downbeat ending that makes this story stand out, something not entirely out of place with the television series at the time.

Issue Four (Vol.2, No.4)
Dated May 1976. Charlton Publications Inc.
Edited by George Wildman. Art Editor/Cover Art: Gray Morrow.

The Science Fiction Film (feature)
Writer: Nicola Cuti. 2 pages.
A potted history about landmark SF films.

'A Lonely Emperor'A Lonely Emperor
Writer: Joe Gill.
Art: Carlos Pino (uncredited). 15 pages, b/w.
The Moon is approaching planet Epsilon Rudea IV, and conflicting information from Doctors Mastambi and Edwards mean an Eagle mission. Edwards believes the planet is Earth-like, while Mastambi believes otherwise, and his findings about the planet prove correct - Rudea IV has no ozone to deflect ultraviolet radiation. Edwards goes berserk, and he takes refuge in the city of the planet's flying inhabitants. Using hypnosis, he turns the Rudeans against Koenig and the others...
A more adventure orientated story that would not have been out of place in Look-In.
The antagonism between the two Doctors could almost have its origins in racism, as Mastambi is coloured, but is explained as caused by Edwards having made mistakes which Mastambi discovered.
The Rudeans are described as being seven feet tall, having a light body weight which means they can fly, and are intelligent and seemingly telepathic.
Carter once again has a female co-pilot, Omira Tal.

The Universe - Early Theories (feature)
Writer: Nicola Cuti. 2 pages.
A factual feature about the development of astronomy.

'Alien Insecta'Class Determination: Alien Insecta!
Writer: Mike Pellowski.
Art: Uncredited but probably Carl Potts & Doug Beekman (pencils), Ed Davis (inks).
15 pages, b/w.
Approaching a planet, Alpha is attacked by giant bees which are intercepted by a flight of Hawks. The examination of one of the dead bees reveals it to be more evolutionary advanced than those on Earth, so Koenig takes Helena and Victor to the planet to investigate. Battling overgrown insects, they find a deserted Earth-like city where they are captured by giant ants. In the nest, Helena is used by the Queen to communicate, and reveals their history...
An interesting story to compare with the first Space:1999 strip in Look-In, which dealt with an identical theme.
Pellowski's ants are more civilised and are prepared to share the planet - providing the Alphans don't compete or interfere with them.
The final 'twist' is more obvious to British readers than their US counterparts as the city, in the few frames seen, is London.
Although five Hawks are name-checked, only four are seen in flight.
The Hawks are also suggested to be single-seater, and are armed with rockets instead of lasers. This would appear to come from publicity material that is also the basis of the 'Moonbase Alpha' feature in issue 5.
The moon buggies are referred to as 'lunarmobiles'.
The uncredited artist, probably Ed Davis, kits the exploring Alphans in the survival outfits seen in 'Death's Other Dominion', and there is an interesting battle between Alpha's Hawks and the bees.
The large insect that attacks the landed Eagle is called a locust but is recognisably a preying mantis.

Space Suits (feature)
Writer: Nicola Cuti. 2 pages.
A factual feature about the development of space suits.

Another Name For Hell
Writer: Nicola Cuti. Art: Alcazar & Asian, 20 pages, b/w.
'Another Name For Hell'On a world which can support life but doesn't, Koenig, Helena, Bergman and crewman Lonnie find a strange doorway to nowhere. Using weapons, they break through the one-way energy curtain and find themselves in a limbo. Drifting towards a hovering plateau, they are welcomed by a family - Iokon, his wife Bel, and children Illa and Madko - who call the limbo Dimension Zero. Their planet, Majick, suffered a fatal plague and scientist Iokon explains he found the doorway just in time to escape its ravages but they have become trapped there. Koenig agrees to use their weapons to open the doorway again but once he does Iokon and his family reveal themselves to be a family of warlocks and witches, and leave the Alphans trapped in the limbo which was their prison...
Another usage of gothic and magic which jars a little with the high-tech format of the series, but which suits Alcazar's art well again.
The image of Iokon's family revealing themselves as magicians, and the visualisation of Dimension Zero, are particularly striking.

Issue Five (Vol.2, No.5)
Dated July 1976. Charlton Publications Inc.
Edited by George Wildman. Art Editor/Cover Art: Gray Morrow.

How The Universe Came To Be (feature)
Writer/Artist: Nicola Cuti. 2 pages.
A factual feature on theories about the Universe.

'The Strange Ones'The Strange Ones
Writer: Joe Gill.
Art: Pat Boyette. 15 pages, b/w.
With morale at an all time low on Alpha, the Moon's passage close to a new solar system offers little more hope to the depressed Alphans. This turns out to be more so, as the atmosphere of one Earth-like planet proves to contain a poison which has killed the inhabitants. Koenig is sure the cause is another Earth-like planet in the system, and there the Eagle lands on an large metal disc. However, the surface inhabitants turn out to be savages who attack them before the Eagle is lowered on the disc to an underground complex. The native Dolbi are cyclopoid aliens who are emotionless, and wiped out the other planet as they were 'wasteful' and 'creative'. The savages are all that remains of the race, who the Dolbi tried to turn into slaves by genetic changes an experiment they hope to try again by using the Alphans...
It is a nice idea that some Alphans suffer from severe depression in the light of their hopeless situation - in fact, another planet they cannot colonise would more likely add to the feeling but this is never addressed.
Another nice touch is the refusal of an Alphan woman of a marriage proposal: "For what? To raise children who'd live out their existence on this rock? Forget it..."
Koenig tries to raise morale by allowing a live video link of the planet's exploration (shades of the Year Two episode 'Seance Spectre').
Pat Boyette was a regular artist for Charlton, and illustrated many of their SF titles.

The Computer (feature)
Writer/Artist: Nicola Cuti. 2 pages.
A factual feature about the development of computers.

An Alien Charm
Writer: Joe Gill. Art: Dick Ayers. 15 pages, b/w.
Investigating a small derelict ship, Koenig finds a beautiful alien woman. Recovering, she reveals herself to be Nuna and charmingly anticipates questions put to her by Helena, and later Bergman on Alpha. Koenig seems enchanted by her and invites her to join the Alphans. Given freedom of the base, Nuna explores life support and changes into a hideous creature, killing technician Karl and witnessed by Rolfe. But Rolfe's report is dismissed when Karl turns up alive. Nuna has assumed his identity, and uses her shape-shifting ability to impersonate Helena as she attempts to trap the Alphans for the slave-breeders of her world Strygos...
The Moon-Rover
The most interesting aspect of this story is the triangle which develops between Koenig, Helena and Nuna.
It is implied that Helena's jealousy is what keeps her mind clear of Nuna's manipulations, and Koenig does seem to be (almost foolishly) infatuated with the alien.
The Alphans wear radiation discs, which warn of harmful exposure, and Nuna emits beta rays.
Dick Ayers seems to exhibit some unease with his work on the strip, and it comes over as one of the weaker artworks for the magazine.

Writer: Nicola Cuti.
Art: Gray Morrow.
20 pages, b/w.
Strange readings and an ore sample from the Cordillera mountain range leads the Alphans to discover an artificial environment in a vast cave. Koenig, along with Helena, Bergman, Carter and crewmen Willer and Yamato investigate and find controlled fauna and flora surrounding a lake and a city, which houses museum like collections and humanoids in suspended animation. But when the party splits up, Willer and Yamoto are captured by automatic systems and also put in suspension - and a similar fate will befall Koenig, Helena, Bergman and Carter unless they can escape...
A very interesting story on several levels, with the exploration of a self-contained 'world' very similar to Arthur C. Clarke's Rendezvous with Rama, published a few years before. "Strangely enough," Cuti comments, "Although I've read several of Arthur C. Clarke's stories, I've never read Rama, but now I guess I will."
The discovery and fate of Willer and Yamato echoes that of Sarah Jane Smith in the Doctor Who story 'The Ark In Space', and the idea of an alien ship landing on the Moon instead of Earth seems inspired by the episode and 'novelisation' of the episode 'Earthbound' - Brian Ball simply used the idea and incorporated it briefly into his adaptation of 'Missing Link'.
Gray Morrow gets another excuse to feature women, Helena and Yamato here, in revealing costumes.
The Moon-RoverNicola Cuti also adds two more vehicles to Alpha - a small scout called a Roach, and a six-wheeled Moon-rover, which Gray Morrow bases on a design seen at the General Motors 'Futurama II' at the World's Fair in 1964/65.
Probably the truest story to the feel of the television series, with a nice harder science fiction edge than the other strips.

Moonbase Alpha (factual)
Writer: Nicola Cuti. 2 pages.
Interesting as this combines early production names (Moon City, Com-Com and Com Loc) with more up-to-date information, such as referring to the Track Attackers seen in the episode 'The Infernal Machine' (see also 'Demon Star' in the Charlton Comics feature).
It also implies that the Hawks are the main ships of Alpha, as single-seater interceptors with 'space-to-space' missiles, with the Eagles being 'battleships' and laser-armed.

Issue Six (Vol.2, No.6)
Dated August 1976. Charlton Publications Inc.
Edited by George Wildman. Art Editor/Cover Art: Gray Morrow.

Mars, The Mysterious Red World (feature)
Writer: Michael J. Pellowski. 4 pages.
A feature about the planet Mars.

Just Like Home
Writer: Joe Gill. Art: Adolfo Buylla. 15 pages, b/w.
'Just Like Home'Signals from an Earth-like planet the Moon is approaching bring a strange surprise as morale hits a low point on Alpha. The aliens of Planet Ten have studied Earth for some years and have modelled themselves and their society on ours, even naming their planet as an 'unofficial' tenth member of the Solar System. President Tamblin welcomes Koenig, Helena, Bergman, Carter and co-pilot Michelle to a society which resembles Earth's well. Perhaps, too well. Tamblin practices corrupt politics and Michelle is nearly mugged. It seems the aliens admire all that is evil in humanity, and duplicate the landing party to infiltrate Alpha and initiate Project Exodus. But Michelle manages to overcome her duplicate and infiltrate the Eagle as it returns - but how can she warn Alpha without endangering the lives of Koenig and the others still on Planet Ten?
This is a quite clever story, and shows that imitation is not always the sincerest form of flattery!
The solution to the hostage situation is also quite clever.
Strangely, the person in charge of Alpha in Koenig's absence appears to be a Captain Eric Gray.

Nuclear Power (feature)
Writer: Nicola Cuti. 2 pages.
A factual feature about nuclear power and nuclear waste.

Writer: Nicola Cuti.
Art: Vicente Alcazar. 15 pages, b/w.
Surveying a frozen world which Carter has dubbed 'Snowball', the Eagle comes under attack from giant horned creatures. Koenig, Helena and Bergman can only watch helpless as Carter attempts a lift-off and crashes. Only bruised, the Captain joins the others and flee into the frozen landscape. They find a snow-covered building but with no indication of how long it has been abandoned. An advanced craft appears and the occupants, led by Kolton, welcome them. They explain their once tropical world shifted in its orbit and froze. But a storm white-out causes their vehicle to crash, killing one of them. When Kolton mistakenly refers to a ship instead of a city, Koenig comes to suspect they are alien to the ice world too and are following a hidden agenda...
Alcazar uses a sketchier style than his usual dark, gothic technique, lending this story an unusual and distinctive look.
In many ways the setting is very like 'Death's Other Dominion' and the more action-orientated story makes it quite comparable to the British strips.

The Paradise Progression
Writer: Mike Pellowski. Art: Gray Morrow. 20 pages, b/w.
On a large asteroid which sustains a habitable atmosphere, Koenig's landing party find two barely clad humanoids - a man, Adan, and a woman, Eva - in a lush parasise. Both behave unemotionally to the Alphans but explain they were put there by The Greater along with The Lessers, animals and plants. The small world will no't sustain all the Alphans but Koenig decides to leave a colony of about twenty-five to start a new home. The Alphans settle, and crewwoman Careen Kane starts to become close to Adan. But less than a day later Koenig receives an urgent report that Careen has been savagely murdered. Returning to the asteroid, Helena tells Koenig neither Adan or Eva could have done it but then crewman Drake is also killed. Bergman has a theory, and gets Koenig and Helena to invoke jealously in Adan, with the result that in the night, two savage primitive creatures arrive to attack them...
'The Paradise Progression'
Again we have something of an SF cliché, the Eden environment and the potential 'serpent' in the Alphans tipping a balance. But the explanation is more involved and clever than that, and has an interesting - if simplified - comment on both evolutionary and religious theories of creation.

Issue Seven (Vol.2, No.7)
Dated September 1976. Charlton Publications Inc.
Edited by George Wildman. Art Editor/Cover Art: Gray Morrow.

Nuclear Power, The Ultimate Energy Source (feature)
Writer: Michael J. Pellowski. 2 pages.
Another feature about nuclear power.

'The Perpetual Metamorphosis'The Perpetual Metamorphosis
Writer: Mike Pellowski.
Art: Carlos Pino. 20 pages, b/w.
A Sky Lab from Alpha encounters an alien satellite and, retrieving it, Alan Carter returns with it for closer examination. A hatch reveals an organic cocoon from which a small creature emerges. Helena and Bergman examine the animal to find it feeds on energy but the creature spins another cocoon for itself and emerges bigger and more ravenous, eating its way through the wall of the lab and proving impervious to firepower. After eating part of an Eagle, the creature spins another cocoon and Koenig has no way of stopping a lifeform that evolves continually and seems to have unlimited appetite...
A more straight-forward story, and has a similar idea to 'End Of Eternity' in how do you stop something that cannot be killed? In many ways, the solution and conclusion are similar but this is more adventure than idea orientated.
The Sky Lab appears to be a large version of a Hawk, and is implied to be a permanant orbiting station, serviced by Eagle flights.

The Atom, An Infinitesimal Solar System (feature)
Writer: Michael J. Pellowski. 2 pages.
Another feature about the structure of atoms.

Cosmic Headache
Writer: Nicola Cuti.
Art: Carl Potts & Doug Beekman (pencils), Ed Davis (inks). 20 pages, b/w.
'Cosmic Headache'Koenig leads Helena and Bergman on a covert mission into an enclosed city, to discover the fate of an earlier expedition led by Karen Lanford on an Earth-like planet. Debating how to gain entry past robot setries, they are spotted by shephed Wenko who offers assistance. He met and aided Lanford and takes Koenig and his party to the market, the only way 'outsiders' are allowed anywhere near the city as it needs their wares. Donning metallic 'pips' on the forehead, which every 'insider' wears, the four find a beautiful utopia. But Koenig inadvertantly gives them away when a man he knocks falls over with a powerful headache. Wenko leads them to the 'slums', where the criminal faction hide, and explains the pips give the wearer a powerful headache when contemplating to commit a crime. The pip is a receiver for transmissions from a central tower and the slum is outside the area. There, they find Lanford and the creator of the pips, Doctor Ortizs, who is now a slug-like creature called Orcus - whom all inhabitants believe to be a mythical creature...
Another story with a strong social comment, and strangely it is one in which the society does seem to work even though it is not explored in depth.
If there is a weak point to the story, it is never explained why Lanford decides to stay and help Orcus, unless it believes the society it created does not work, and apart from the slums, there is little indication of that.

The Infinity Mechanism
Writer: Mike Pellowski. Art: Vicente Alcazar. 20 pages, b/w.
A spaceship brings a sole alien who claims to be the survivor of a dead world, but on landing Infinity is found to be a cyborg - part organic, part android - from a planet called Xeron. Infinity can apparently draw energy from life, and offers the Alphans immortality in return. But the cyborg is insane, and its thirst for energy turns it into a kind of vampire, sucking the life out of the Alphans as it progresses through the base...
Similar themes to the episode 'End Of Eternity' appear here, with Infinity claiming to have superior healing skills and promises of immortality.
Victor Bergman claims to have once been a great saxophone player.

Issue Eight (Vol.2, No.8)
Dated October 1976. Charlton Publications Inc.
Edited by George Wildman.
Art Editor/Cover Art: Gray Morrow.

Nuclear Power, The Ultimate Energy Source (feature)
Writer: Uncredited. 3 pages.
An introductory feature about Catherine Schell and the character of Maya.

'The Metamorph'The Metamorph
Writer: Mike Pellowski.
Art: Gray Morrow. 30 pages, b/w.
A graphic retelling of the Year Two opening episode 'The Metamorph'.
A quite stunning and faithful adaptation - both in script and art - of the second year's opening story.
The strip would appear to be based on the script for the episode, and dates the story as taking place '108 days after Breakaway' (i.e. 30th December 1999). This date, interestingly, is also used in the introductory Year Two adaptation of 'The Metamorph' for the ©1977 Space:1999 annual, and may have been used so the second series at least starts in 1999, but makes a mockery of compressing all of Year One into a little more than three months! For the televised version, it is changed to 342 days after leaving Earth Orbit.
The strip would appear to be based on the script for the episode, and features an early scene cut from the televised version where Maya turns into Koenig, and a tree, when talking to Mentor.
While the character of Bill Fraser mentions his wife a couple of times, she is not named or seen in the strip, apparently for space reasons.
Mentor is given a much harsher appearance, and on the whole this version is grittier and more enjoyable than the televised episode.

Man Made Moons (feature)
Writer: Michael J. Pellowski. 2 pages.
A feature about artifical satellites.

The Primary Life Form
Writer: Mike Pellowski.
Art: Vicente Alcazar. 20 pages, b/w.
Erratic sensor readings act as a prelude to the arrival of Nucleon, an immortal elemental being with god-like powers. The alien seemingly kills Tony and crewman Starvic, but when Maya pleads alien kinship, he brings them back, claiming he does not kill but simply transmutes. Nucleon requires companionship, and has chosen Helena as the life that will join with him to make a new combined life form. Helena rejects the offer, angering Nucleon, and when Koenig is defeated in challenge, Maya steps into the breach and a battle between shape-changer and elemental force begins...
'The Primary Lifeform'
Alcazar's art veers between the dark gothic and his more sketchy style (used on Snowball) for this tale which has superficial similarities to 'New Adam, New Eve', with the appearance of a god-like humanoid.
Alcazar also draws all the crew of Alpha as wearing the jackets which are usually only seen on planetary excursions.

Scanning The Solar System (feature)
Writer: Michael J. Pellowski. 5 pages.
A feature about the planets in the solar system.

- - - - - - - - - - - -

Cover Issue 8Morrow and Alcazar would be joined in issues 3 and 4 respectively by European artists Adolfo Buylla and Carlos Pino, associates of Vicente Alcazar, and both of whom had a strong graphic style. Pino was no stranger to Gerry Anderson fans, having already drawn for the latter TV21 comics and Look-In in the early 1970s, and going on to contribute to 2000AD. Buylla is also still believed to be working the graphics business and recently drew some of the Dark Horse Star Wars range. The fourth issue also saw a strip, uncredited but recognisable in style to the later Cosmic Headache in issue 7, by Carl Potts & Doug Beekman (pencils) and Ed Davis (inks). The fifth issue saw the work of two more contributors, Pat Boyette and Dick Ayers. Boyette was a stalwart of Charlton and drew for many of their titles, including the final issue of the Space:1999 comic, and who sadly died in 2000. Ayers was a freelance artist and had worked for Charlton in the 1950s under editor Al Fago. At the time Ayers was working on Sick Magazine, which Charlton published, and was offered the chance to do a Space:1999 by George Wildman. He has become a comic legend and is still active as an artist.

The last issue of the magazine was the only one to feature the Year Two format. In an uncredited opening article entitled A New Star In Our Galaxy, actress Catherine Schell and her character Maya were introduced. Unfortunately no other explanation is given for the sudden disappearance of Professor Victor Bergman, or why a character called Tony (Verdeschi - though his surname isn't used) features so prominently now, or why the uniforms had changed. Still, this was in keeping with the televised episode The Metamorph, which received star treatment as an incredibly faithful strip adaptation.

While still credited as writing for the magazine, Nicola Cuti had left Charlton by this time but did have this comment on the Year Two format, which echoes the views of fans and even actor Martin Landau himself. "
I felt it had run out of steam by then and was attempting to rejuvenate itself with the character (of Maya). It is unfortunate, but when the fantastic becomes commonplace then space opera becomes soap opera."

- - - - - - - - - - - -

On to Part Two of this feature.

- - - - - - - - - - - -

The Complete Gerry Anderson Comic Guide would like to thank:
Nicola Cuti - for his prompt, informed and friendly responses
and Richard (Dick) Ayers.

- for their valued assistance and contributions to this feature.

Version 1.1 - 01.05.05

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