Thunderbirds: “The Earthquake Maker”

Strip: “The Earthquake Maker”

Original run: TV21 issues #141 – #146

Writer: Scott Goodall

Artist: Frank Bellamy

Issue 145
Issue 145

And so the Megaventures begin! We start with taking a look back at the very first Century 21 comic strip I ever read, “The Earthquake Maker”. This particular strip sees Scott, Virgil and Brains dashing to Persia when a series of earthquakes rupture several cities there. But the more earthquakes erupt, the curiouser the incident becomes, and it becomes obvious that these natural phenomenons may not be so natural after all…

By the time this strip hit the newstands, TV 21 had already established itself as one of the leading comics in England in the 1960’s, and “The Earthquake Maker” is testament to that. I recall reading this strip as a tender seven year old, and was, to be frank, shocked by the blistering gritty and realistic artwork. There’s a reason Frank Bellamy is held in such high regard in Gerry Anderson circles, and if you ever wanted to know why, just go read any TV21 strip he illustrated. In “The Earthquake Make” for instance, Thunderbird 2 transforms from the gorgeously made model seen on the small screen to a lumbering, Godzilla-like force of nature. The panel in the third chapter where Thunderbirds 1 and 2 are caught up in a whirlwind and crash-land is breath-taking.

Speaking of panels, the manner in which they’re laid out across each page heightens the dramatic impact of the artwork considerably. So, we like the artwork then, yes? But how about the actual story? Is it any good? Well… its certainly not the TV show, that’s for sure! Across six instalments with only two pages per story, the pace is dramatically quicker than that in any given TV episode of Thunderbirds. Indeed, it only takes one panel before the action begins and Tashfar is hit by the first earthquake. I seem to recall in “The Mighty Atom” it took at least half an hour or so before we saw any actual Thunderbirds on screen!

Issue 146
Issue 146

The story itself is pure sixties sci-fi fantasy – devious villain plans to overthrow his own country via sending man-mad earthquakes rippling through the land, brave, swashbuckling Tracy boys vow to save the day – and do! Those expecting a lengthily, slow-burning saga of adventure may well have to go elsewhere, but part of TV21’s success and enjoyment is the rattling speed its stories are in duration. They offer themselves as perfect companion pieces to the television shows, and are great balls of fun in their own right.

It was certainly a shot of adrenaline reading this strip for the first time, and curiously offered a far greater dash of excitement than the TV show could. Don’t get me wrong, Thunderbirds on screen is a blast, but as a comic there seemed to be a very different type of enjoyment on offer. These strips would go on to differentiate themselves from the series in such manners.

Have you read “The Earthquake Maker?” What do you make of it? Let us know in the comments section below!

You can read “The Earthquake Maker” in Egmont’s ‘Thunderbirds The Comic Collection Vol. 1’!

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