TV21 artist Mike Noble dies

Mike NobleFanderson is deeply saddened to hear of the passing of beloved TV21 comics artist Mike Noble.

Known today for his vivid, energetic and highly colourful work, Mike began illustrating comics in the late 1950s with something far more sedate – a strip called Simon and Sally that followed the adventures of a pair of eponymous infant twins. He quickly proved his talents as a first-rate illustrator of TV-inspired strips, working on The Lone Ranger and Popeye for TV Comic. However it was in the mid to late 1960s that Mike will be remembered for his amazing work on a series of Gerry Anderson tie-in strips for TV21, including Fireball XL5, Captain Scarlet and Zero-X. Throughout the 1970s he worked for Look-In, illustrating Star Trek, The Adventures of Black Beauty, The Tomorrow People, Worzel Gummidge and – of course – Space:1999.

Captain Scarlet TV21

Later in his career Mike reconnected with the Anderson universe, contributing to the Fleetway Comics revival of TV21 overseen by Alan Fennell.

As well as being a hugely talented and prolific artist, Mike was a gentleman, always happy to talk to fans about his work and unsparing in his contributions – whether attending conventions, donating artwork or taking commissions – Fanderson included! He attended the club’s last convention, Special Assignment, in 2017, where he exhibited a wide selection of his work, signed artwork and talked on stage with fellow Anderson artist Graham Bleathman. Despite ill health had been eager to attend Supercelebration next year. He will be sadly missed. A full tribute will be appearing in FAB soon.

Mike’s passing follows swiftly that of actor John Bluthal, best known to Anderson fans as the voice of the cantankerous Commander Zero in Fireball XL5.

Fans are welcome to leave tributes to both men on the Fanderson Facebook group and the Fanderson Forum.

Actor John Bluthal dies

Fanderson is saddened to hear of the death of actor John Bluthal. Best known to Anderson fans as the voice of the cantankerous Commander Zero in Fireball XL5, Bluthal reached wider fame with his role as Frank Pickle in The Vicar of Dibley.

He was born in Jezierzany, Galicia, Poland (now Ukraine) before emigrating to Melbourne, Australia with his family in 1938 at the age of nine. He later returned to Europe, where he worked extensively in theatre and radio comedy before moving into TV appearances in shows such as Fireball XL5, The Saint and Q. Bluthal’s long-running film and television career stretched from the 1960s up until a role as philosopher Herbert Marcuse in the Coen Brothers film, Hail Caesar!

A tribute will be appearing in FAB magazine shortly.