Back in 1975, I had a brief passion for a new Saturday television show, a Pavlovian response to all things Gerry Anderson. This new treat was called Space:1999 and followed a colony of astronauts marooned on Moonbase Alpha when unexpectedly exiled from our solar system after an accident with nuclear waste. The show had Mission: Impossible’s Martin Landau and his wife Barbara Bain and Barry Morse who knew had been in The Fugitive but whom I associated with another ITC show called The Zoo Gang. It had some flashy special effects for the period, some smashing looking spacecraft, and it was directed by some cinema legends. Naturally there was a comic to stoke that fanboy fever.
Artist John Burns drew the comic version of Space:1999 in Look-In, a poppy magazine published by the ITV Network that styled itself as the Junior TV Times. Indeed they had a couple of pages of tv listings among the comic strips and features. Burns and writer Angus P Allan opened with a serial that involved a return to Earth now ruled by giant ants.
The initial run was in colour but later shifted to black and white. Later installments were drawn by Fireball XL5 and Star Trek legend Mike Noble.The strip ran for 81 installments between 1975 and 1977. During this time World Distributors also produced some annuals featuring comic strips written by Allan and drawn by Garth’s Martin Asbury.
The final episode revealed that Space:1999 would be replaced by Just William with Doctor Who’s Bonnie Langford tuning her screaming powers as Violet Elizabeth
But this wasn’t the only version of Space:1999 in comics. Readers of fortnightly German comic magazine Zack had Moonbasis Alpha added to a line up that included the classic Western serial Blueberry, Julie Wood and Dan Cooper. The initial strip was drawn by Spain’s Jose Cardona Blasi and written by Italian author Farinas. It adapted early episodes of the tv show, though later installments were new tales. I presume the strip received syndication in other parts of Europe, although Italy had a mag with fumetti (photo-strip) versions of Spazio 1999. Several albums were also published under the Zack Box series (including an adventure with giant ants) and five adventures under the smaller Zack Parade.
Meanwhile Stateside, Carlton Comics delivered by a double whammy of a regular colour comic and a black and white magazine based on Space:1999. The magazine featured some tv episode adaptations drawn by Gray Morrow and Vincente Alcazar while new adventures in the comic included early art by a pre-Marvel John Byrne (not to be confused with Johnny Byrne who wrote key TV episodes).
Some of Byrne’s issues were reprinted in the World Distributors annuals making natty hardcover editions if you ever find them. Blam Ventures and Archaia Entertainment refried much of this material for a series of graphic novels in 2012 which are quite pricey if you feel curious about this revision.