Monday, November 30, 2009

SPACE: 1999 Comics by Cuti & Staton

The first two issues of Charlton Comics' Space: 1999 series, based on the 1976-77 syndicated television show, were drawn by my pal and collaborator, Joe Staton, and written by Nicola Cuti, who was on staff at the Derby, CT publisher - and was/is a tremendous fan of space opera.

The first issue featured an abbreviated adaptation of the show's pilot episode "Breakaway," called "Moonless Night." Cuti and Staton manage to strip down the TV episode to fit the comic book format while still maintaining the suspense and most important action. Issue #2 is an original story, "Survival," which actually foreshadows author Barry Longyear's "Enemy Mine" (the basis of the 1985 Dennis Quaid/Louis Gossett film), as it has Commander Koenig and a hostile alien both stranded on a barren planet where they are forced to work together - and trust each other - in order to survive. Cuti's scripts are fast-paced and the characters are pretty much in character. Staton's art is (as always) cartoony, but appealing. His Eagles are a bit too rounded for my tastes, but overall he does a good job of capturing the 1999 universe.

Both issues are graced with marvelous watercolor cover paintings by Staton. Issue #1 features very nice likenesses of Martin Landau and Barbara Bain, while #2 is an effective action shot set against a blazing, red alien sky.

I'm pretty sure that Space: 1999 was the comic that made me a Staton fan, even though he only provided the art on the first two issues. John Byrne took over after that. At twelve, I was a huge fan of the show (still am) and I read and re-read my original copies of these issues until they fell apart. I think that helped me recognize Joe's name and style, so that when I discovered his work on E-Man (also in partnership with Cuti) and the 70's Justice Society and Green Lantern books from DC, I knew who he was.

Charlton's comic book of Space: 1999 ran a total of seven issues. I'll cover the later, John Byrne issues and it's black & white companion magazine (8 issues) in future posts.


  1. Though not a big purchaser of non-Super hero comics in the 70s, I did buy both issues 1 & 2 of Space:1999. Stanton was an original when it came to style. Somehow he had a bit (just a bit) of a Jack Cole vibe. Good post Chris.
    best, r/e

  2. Enjoyed Staton (& Byrne & Boyette's) run on the color books, where they provided a marked contrast in style to Gray Morrow's ultra-realistic art on the b/w magazine (also by Charlton).
    It's interesting to note the differences between the color & b/w versions of "Breakaway" & "Metamorph"...

  3. Dear Chris,

    Thanks for the nice comments about my "" scripts. I try to write according to the media and talking heads might be okay for horror (pun intended) but not for space opera and as you mentioned I am a big fan of space opera.
    By the way, working with a talent like Joe Staton, who also happens to be one heck of a nice guy as well, has always been a pleasure. I never have to worry about how my scripts will turn out. Joe adds so much to them I almost feel I should just say a word or two and just sit back and let him do his stuff.



  4. I still have issue #1 still in pretty good condition and now resting comfy in a plastic bag. Great read and great art!