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Captain Scarlet

Above: Asbury moved into TV tie-ins with occasional work for Countdown, including a Captain Scarlet strip in 1971

Countdown, an older boys' SF companion paper to Polystyle's TV Comic, was something of a 'Phoenix from the Ashes of TV21' when it launched in February 1971 - you provided some black and white strips of 'Captain Scarlet' here, an occasional SF strip and some colour work for the annuals I believe (a 'UFO' strip's yours possibly and a text story). Did you feel more comfortable with drawing hardware-driven SF action than sporting heroism?

God I am awful - I cannot remember ever doing Captain Scarlet in black & white, but maybe I did. I would have to see it to know, but if it is mine, it will make me squirm.

[I show Martin a sample, clearly accredited to him]

Yes. Yes. It's mine alright ... squirm ... squirm.

The only thing I do know is that they were running reprints of dear old Ron Embleton's 'Scarlet' and had lost the artwork or plates/copies of a particular episode. I was asked to reproduce the lost episode (maybe it had been damaged I don't know) I did this and was so happy that it was exactly like Ron's work that i put a tiny 'MA' in each frame to prove that I had done it!! What an idiot!! How very sad.
Yes in answer to your question, I much preferred drawing action especially SF action and was indeed much more comfortable and exhilarated by doing it. I seem to recall that commissions from Countdown were not very regular and really wanted to 'get in.' John Burns was doing some really ground-breaking stuff and was blowing my socks off! I was not very good and gladly took what was offered feeling I was rather a stop-gap for them at that time.

Not that much is written about the Editor of Countdown and several other Polystyle titles, the late Dennis Hooper - any memories of him?

Most of any dealings I had with Dennis were usually job related but I liked him a lot. He always sported a beard I remember, was fairly tall had curly dark hair and wore glasses. He had a dry sense of humour and an acerbic wit. A good man, decent and fair.

Countdown never quite took off as an SF title and ended up retooled as TV Action at the beginning of 1973, with an emphasis on TV crimefighting. You worked on 'Cannon' here, the adventures of the overweight private eye (played by William Conrad). Were you glad that now you had a regular gig for perhaps the first time?

Oh yes ... 'Cannon' ... I did feel more established when I got that and enjoyed consolidating my work, making the first real attempt to draw what - as a child - I would have liked to see.

It also gave you an early opportunity to occasionally work in colour didn't it? Colour seems such a vital part of your strip work.

I was a little timorous of colour at first but actually loved the way it helped to expand the atmosphere and could create a greater texture and richness. (How grand that sounds!)
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