The UK-published weekly, TV Comic, featured The Avengers as a one or two page strip for several years, beginning with issue number 720 which was published just over a month after Emma Peel had made her debut in the London and Scottish regions of the United Kingdom.
The newspapers had been building up the excitement regarding this new phase of The Avengers, with leaks to the press over the preceding months. Diana Rigg and her new fashions had been picked over, as had been the continuing suitability of Patrick Macnee in his role as the original ultra suave TV super-spy, "Pre-BOND, pre-SOLO, back comes the daddy of them all", shouted an article by Barry Norman in The Daily Mail of August '65. Barry's Daddy, of course, went on to direct the Linda Thorson episodes 'Thingumajig' and 'Bizarre'.
The first TV Comic strip was flagged on the cover of that issue in a very subtle and unassuming way. 'Starts Today: The Avengers', and that was it. Tucked snugly onto pages two and three, this was a TV series aimed at adults, placed squarely in an adult time slot (generally post 9pm on a Saturday, unlike series like The Saint, or Danger Man which could enjoy an earlier time slot and thus a younger fan base), but taking its place in a children's comic alongside such other children's series as Dr. Who and Orlando.
The art in this initial appearance has a languid, almost studied, boredom which escapes the Mick Anglo art of the Thorpe & Porter, The Avengers comic; like Anglo, this artist knows he's not managing to create a likeness, but he lets you know that he doesn't care by sketching a mean Bentley. The 'hurmorous' touches which weaken this strip are well in evidence even this early.
The basic structure of these early appearances was the same as season four - even some of the fashions worn by the comic strip Mrs. Peel were similar to those worn by her TV-compatriot. This version was published as a two-page strip up to and including issue 762 of July 23, 1966, then limped along in single-page format until its final appearance on the 24th of September 1966 in issue 771 which saw Steed and Mrs Peel polish off Wander The Wizard and his wicked sidekicks.
I haven't been able to discover who does the art for these strips; it's not John Stokes who was credited with drawing the stories in the Emma Peel annual (this may be because they were published by different companies). If anybody has a clearer line on this, could they perhaps get in touch? All info will be gratefully received - firstname.lastname@example.org
There were eventually nine Emma Peel-era Avengers strips - a year's worth of issues extending from October 2nd 1965 to August 24 1966. The stories went from stupid to stupider (it's a perfectly cromulent word), beginning with Steed and Mrs Peel encountering various stupid foreign agents (usually in a tastelessly xenophobic fashion) and ending with the adventures of the Mirage Maker and Wander The Wizard. Compared to what was to come in the Tara King strips, though, this was Gritty Realism of the highest order.
STORY 1 issues 720 to 725
STORY 2 issues 726 to 730
STORY 3 issues 731 to 735
STORY 4 issues 736 to 740
STORY 5 issues 741 to 745
STORY 6 issues 746 to 750
STORY 7 issues 751 to 755
STORY 8 issues 756 to 760
STORY 9 issues 761 to 766
STORY 10 - issues 767 to 771
TV Comic Holiday Special 1966
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