Tuesday, 30 August 2016



The AVENGERS Annual for 1970 is undoubtedly the best
of the four books I've shown you so far.  It had fewer pages, but
more comic strips (three, and better drawn too) and a higher quality
of illustrations for the three text stories.  With three features and two
pictorial features, it was a superior publication to most other TV tie-
in books of the period.  Issued by ATLAS PUBLISHING COM-
PANY Ltd., and not WORLD DISTRIBUTORS, it's one of
the gems of my collection.  You might find one on eBay.

When The Avengers TV show started in 1961, Dr. DAVID
KREEL (played by IAN HENDRY) was the main character, and
JOHN STEED was his assistant.  When Hendry quit the show after
the first series, Steed became the main character, with a succession
of female assistants.  (First, CATHY GALE, played by HONOR
and finally TARA KING, played by LINDA THORSON.

The series was revived in 1976 under the title The NEW
AVENGERS, with new assistants, but it's the original version I'm
focussing on in this present post - so ignore the assistants behind
the curtain.  (Don't worry, the meds will kick in shortly.)

Coming soon(ish):  DOCTOR WHO ANNUAL 1966.


Phil S said...

I have to say I would rather watch Steed and Mrs Peel than the superhero Avengers. I love my comics but they always work best on the page.
Steed and Peel had two seasons to gel and it's much harder to to that in two or three movies.

Kid said...

Oh, I dunno, Phil. I think the Avengers movies have been excellent, the Captain America ones even better. (Especially Winter Soldier.)

TC said...

Modern technology has enabled decent superhero movies with convincing special effects, although, IMHO, the genre is still best suited to the printed page.

The Avengers was first shown in the US sometime around 1966-67, on the ABC TV network, starting with episodes that co-starred Diana Rigg, and continuing through the Linda Thorson/Tara King series. I think the in-color episodes were the first to be shown in the US, although the older, B&W episodes (with Emma Peel) were rerun in syndication a few years later. The New Avengers, with Joanna Lumley as Purdey, was shown on the CBS network in a late night time slot in the 1970's.

The Honor Blackman series was rerun on A&E in the 1980's and/or 1990's. That may have been the first time most Americans saw Cathy Gale, although Honor was well known here for Goldfinger and for Jason & the Argonauts.

Diana Rigg is far and away the most popular Avenger with American audiences. Joanna Lumley is more famous here for Absolutely Fabulous, and Linda Thorson may be better known for the sitcom Marblehead Manor.

I had the 1968 Gold Key comic. The fine print on the first interior page listed the title as "The Avengers," but the cover logo said "John Steed Emma Peel," probably to avoid confusion (and/or a trademark dispute) with Marvel. It had two complete stories, reprinted from strips in TV Comics.

Kid said...

I can just recall the Honor Blackman period, TC, and I really fancied Linda Thorson, but the Diana Rigg shows had a magic atmosphere that the later ones couldn't capture for some reason. The show became increasingly silly towards the end and it was brought to a close not before time. Although it was great to see John Steed again, the 1976-'77 series didn't quite work - or last.

Never heard of Marblehead Manor before. Was it any good?

TC said...

Marblehead Manor (1987-88) was meh. As I recall, neither especially good nor especially bad. It was about a rich family and their employees. Linda Thorson played the wife, Paxton Whitehead played the butler, and Phil Morris played the chauffeur. As I recall, Linda's character was a bit of a dingbat.

A lot of TV action-adventure shows became as you say, "increasingly silly" in the mid-1960's. Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea, Lost In Space, The Man From U.N.C.L.E., The Wild Wild West. It was the peak of the fad for campy comedy and pop art. I'm not quite sure if the Batman TV show started it, or if that show was following a trend that had already started. (Most Bond movies had a lot of tongue-in-cheek comedy relief, and the Modesty Blaise, Flint, and Matt Helm movies all made Bond look like Shakespearean tragedy.)

Those above-mentioned TV shows, and The Avengers, all went over the top in 1966-67. Most of them tried to tone it down in '67-68, when the camp fad was obviously passing. By then, though, it was too late. I suspect that fans who liked the campy weirdness were bored by an attempt to return to playing it straight, and fans who wanted straight drama had quit watching by then.

Kid said...

Yup, I'd say you were right in your assessment, TC. It's a shame, because quite a few good shows were ruined by the 'camp' fad. TV execs never seem to learn their lesson.

Joe S. Walker said...

There was actually another Avengers girl, Julie Stevens who played Venus Smith in a few very early episodes. And yet another if you count Elizabeth Shepard, the original Emma Peel who lasted for one and a half never-seen episodes.

Kid said...

Never counted Venus Smith who was Hendry's secretary, I think, Joe, and didn't tend to get involved in the actual 'avenging' (as far as I know) in the way that Blackman, Peel and Thorson did. And I didn't count the never seen Liz Shepard's Emma Peel (mark 1) because she was never seen.

Joe S. Walker said...

I really wish the Elizabeth Shepard episode and a half could turn up - although since not even a single still photo of her in the role seems to have survived, it's got to be unlikely.

Kid said...

It would be interesting to see sure enough, JW. I wonder why they changed their minds about her?

John Pitt said...

A real beauty of an annual, this one!
For me the Steed/Peel episodes were always the best, BUT I fancied Tara King more than Emma Peel!

Kid said...

I think I did too, JP, but after all this time, I'm not certain. I fancied too many actresses who I'd never have had a chance with back then. (Even if I'd been the same age.)

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