Comic Strip: 'The Drug Pedlar', part illustration, part photographic.
Steed and Dr. Keel get involved with a case of mistaken identity and drug running.
7 pages - black and white. Writer and artist unknown.
Although The Avengers strip consists of only seven pages out of a total of
96, this was apparently the only piece of official contemporary merchandise to feature Dr.
David Keel. The copyright date inside is 1962, which is a tad confusing as the Honor
Blackman stories began broadcasting in September of that year, precisely at the time that
the annuals should have been appearing on the shelves. This suggests one of three
things: that although the show had begun shooting as early as May '62 with Jon Rollason as
Dr. King, followed by the first studio work by Honor Blackman as Mrs Cathy Gale in late
June, there was not enough material for the book publishers to use in the photographic
element of their fumetti, or that the producers had still not hit upon a definite number
one partner for Steed, especially with Venus Smith also waiting in the wings, or that the
book publishers wanted to go with the character who everybody knew - Dr. David Keel.
Having said that, it could just be that there had been a long run-in time for the
publication of the book, and the material was produced before the announcement had been
made of Ian Hendry's departure from the series. Whatever the reasons, it is good
that there is at least this little nugget that survives from the 'live' days of the show.
The strip itself is pretty throwaway - the plot revolves
around a case of mistaken identity as a Chinese undercover agent working with Steed is
killed by drug dealers because, according to Steed, "like most Europeans, the
gang's drug pedlar couldn't tell one Chinaman from another". The fact that 'How Min'
is depicted in typical cliched Chinese costume, complete with pigtail, underlines the
unenlightened times this strip emerged from. The line art is pretty grim, with Steed
being depicted in his 'sleuthing mac' in a couple of scenes, and without a bowler hat in