Saturday, 14 July 2012


Images copyright relevant owner

MIKE NOBLE is one of the greatest artists ever to draw for British comics since they first rolled off the presses.  During the '60s, his graceful, fluid, yet action-packed artwork appeared in a variety of publications, but he's possibly best known for his FIREBALL XL5, ZERO X, and CAPTAIN SCARLET strips in the pages of TV CENTURY 21, and - in the '70s - his FOLLYFOOT, TIMESLIP, and BLACK BEAUTY strips in the Junior TV TIMES publication, LOOK-IN.  In fact, that probably does him a disservice - he's renowned for far more than that.

The accompanying Fireball XL5 strip (from TV Century 21 #34, cover-dated September 11th, 2065 - honest) is one I remember reading on my way to school, back when I was a mere snot-nosed kidlet.  Around six years later, a smaller, black and white reprinting of the adventure appeared in COUNTDOWN, a comic heavily influenced by TV21, which should come as no surprise as it was helmed by former art editor DENNIS HOOPER.  Naturally I was overjoyed to see it, even in 'reduced' circumstances.

Regarding the tale's initial appearance, I recall eagerly invading the newsagent's en route to school every week, in the hope that the latest copy was available for perusal on the counter.  I even remember Mr. SMITH, the manager, patiently thumbing through an issue on one occasion, to give me a preview of the latest instalment of that snowmen adventure.  (I had no money on me and just couldn't wait to see what had happened to ROBERT The ROBOT when he was knocked off his Jetmobile by a giant, rolling snowball.)

Interestingly (for me at least), Mr. Smith eventually became the manager of another newsagent's in the neighbourhood I later moved to, from which I purchased the issue of Countdown reprinting that exact same tale.  He later gave me a job as a paperboy on a salary of £1 per week.  (Which was slave labour even back then.)

Anyway, enjoy this first instalment - and be sure to stay tuned  for the rest of this classic comics serial in future posts.

Click here for Part Two.


Allan said...

I love Mike Noble's work. So bright and colourful, his Zero X was always a joy to behold in TV21. He wasn't perhaps quite at the "top table" with Franks Hampson and Bellamy, Ron Embleton and Don Lawrence, but he's certainly next in line. Along with the likes of Ron Turner and Ian Kennedy, these guys deserve so much more recognition than they get in this country.

Kid said...

I don't know - I think I actually prefer Mike Noble's work to Frank Bellamy at least. Lawrence and Hampson were more in the 'illustrative' mould, whereas Noble's style was more suited to actual comic strips. Embleton's style seemed to combine the best of both worlds. There was just something undeniably dynamic to Mike Noble's work that Hampson's and Bellamy's lacked, in my humble estimation. However, they were all brilliant artists. I think I'd have to include Noble at the same 'table'.

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