Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Swinging 60s Saturday Morning Space Opera by Dave Goode

When I was a kid I would wake up early on
Saturday mornings to catch the sci-fi series
FIREBALL XL-5. The show originated in the U.K. AND was syndicated here in the U.S from 1963 to 1965. It had a catchy theme song and was set in the far-flung future of the 21st century. It was the 3rd "Supermarionation" show (the 1st was FOUR FEATHER FALLS, 2nd  SUPERCAR) produced by the husband and wife team of Gerry and Sylvia Anderson and followed the Flash Gordon-like adventures of Col.Steve Zodiac and his crew Dr.Venus,Robert the Robot and Prof.Matthew Matic.

The show was hugely popular. And with it's success there came a slew of Fireball XL-5 spin-off products. One of the coolest products was a lunchbox/thermos set designed by comic book artist supreme Wally Wood. Wood was a master illustrator and his work in the space opera genre is considered some of his finest and made him perfect for this job.

There was also a one-shot comic book from Gold Key in 1964 with a way-out cover by George Wilson.* Of course in that alternative universe that sometimes runs through my mind there was a live-action FIREBALL XL-5 movie starring Steve Holland and Eva Lynd. In fact the Steve Zodiac marionette looked quite a bit like Steve Holland. And I wouldn't at all be surprised if Holland had posed for the cover of that Gold Key comic book cover.After he and Wilson had worked together to produce some other striking comic book covers.

In Britain, a two-page black-and-white Fireball XL5 comic strip appeared in the weekly TV Comic between 1962 and 1964 before moving to the newly launched weekly TV Century 21 comic in January 1965 for another five years. The strips that appeared between 1965 and 1968 were in color only reverting to black-and-white in 1969. Four hard cover Annual books were published in Britain by Collins between 1963 and 1966 featuring color and black and white comic strip and text stories.

1 comment:

  1. Love that theme song.I believe it was a Top 20 hit in the UK.