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TV Crimebusters (Steed and Dr. Keel, 1962)

TV Crimebusters Annual 1961 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 sight...

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