Space coverage in COUNTDOWN comic

My fascination with the technical details of space exploration began as a child in the 1960s during the Apollo program. This fascination was nurtured by some remarkably detailed coverage of space activities in a series of British children's comics, TV21 and it somewhat-successor Countdown (not to be confused with the US magazine of the same name).

The comics carried strips based on popular science-fiction television series, especially the Gerry Anderson shows (Fireball XL5, Stingray, Thunderbirds, UFO) but also Dr Who and others. (A single British comics issue would contain short, typically 2-page, episodes of many unrelated serials, in contrast to a US `comic book' containing a single storyline.

Mixed in with these comic strips were articles covering real space missions. Those in Countdown were written by someone called Arnold Kingston - if anyone knows anything about him, please let me know.

TV21's gimmick was that it pretended to be a newspaper from 100 years in the future - so the July 1, 1969 issue carried the dateline July 1, 2069, and the high quality glossy cover (I still remember the smell of the ink) had tabloid headlines summarizing the stories in the comic strips inside.

Countdown was a more conventional comic; its gimmick was that the pages were numbered in reverse: "Countdown at 23...", "Countdown at 22..."... etc., to give the appropriate space age flavor.

Although the parental units forced me to jettison my comic collection, I cut out the space-related articles and pasted them in a scrapbook which I still possess. I've scanned a selection of the disintegrating pages to give a sense of the high quality of these articles; I've also included fragments of the comic strips from the reverse side of the space articles. Hopefully these extracts count as a fair use subset.

The articles on unmanned spaceflight in particular contain a level of detail that was rarely reached in the grown-up magazines like Aviation Week and Flight - seeing them again now I realize how they influenced both my basic understanding of the space programs of the 1960s and 1970s and my desire to find out exact times and orbital parameters.

cd001.jpg cd002.jpg cd003.jpg cd004.jpg
cd005.jpg cdx001.jpg cdx002.jpg cdx003.jpg
cdx004.jpg cdx005.jpg cdx006.jpg cdx007.jpg
cdx008.jpg cdx009.jpg cdx010.jpg cdx011.jpg
cdx012.jpg cdx013.jpg cdx014.jpg cdx015.jpg
cdx016.jpg cdx017.jpg cdx018.jpg cdx019.jpg
cdx020.jpg cdx021.jpg cdx022.jpg cdx024.jpg
cdx025.jpg cdx026.jpg cdx027.jpg cdx028.jpg
cdx029.jpg cdx030.jpg cdx031.jpg cdx032.jpg
cdx033.jpg cdx034.jpg