Thursday, 2 June 2011

The Adventures Of K9/K-9 Annual 1983

I initially wrote a review for the series 'The Adventures Of K9' and a seperate 'K-9 Annual 1983' article, however I've decided to paste them together below.

The Adventures Of K9

‘The Adventures Of K9’ (not K-9) is a series of four illustrated books published in 1980. All four stories were written by co-creator David Martin. Short in nature, these books are roughly 35 pages each, containing a page of text followed by a full-page picture. I can’t find who illustrated the books which is a shame, so if anybody out there knows that it’d be great.

1) K9 And The Time Trap
K9 is sent on a mission by the Time Lords to help a Rigelian find his missing fleet. Travelling in his cringe-worthy ship, K-NEL, which I have to admit I’d love as a kid. The story is kept nice and simple but carries a lot of weight in such a small page count.
I’m not sure if these books obtained rights or not, as the Time Lords and the Doctor is named, as is the use of K9, however the ‘big bad’ is Omegron, quite clearly meant to be another co-creation of author David Martins, Omega from ‘The Three Doctors. The back-story is the same but the name and appearance changed.
The illustrations are great at times, but are very similar amongst all the pages, giving it a bit of a lazy look in style, making me think the illustrator wasn’t that interested and wanted to move onto the next job.

2) K9 And The Beasts Of Vega
The second of four books is horrendous. A mysterious force has rendered the majority of Spaceshifter 142’s crew in a coma or arguing with each other. The plot smells of ‘Planet Of Evil’ crossed with illustrations that look copied straight out of ‘Star Wars: A New Hope’, resulting in nothing original and a tedious story that doesn’t actually feel fresh or like it’s taking the reader on a great journey. This book captures nothing of the first, although the cover is fantastic, a shame the ‘Beasts Of Vega’ didn’t actually do anything, this is an avoidable chapter in the adventures of K9.

3) K9 And The Zeta Rescue
The next chapter in the series carries more text than either of the first two, but carries the same grammatical problems as the second. The story, however, is much greater than the second, whilst still becomes stereotypical in nature. The illustrations carry a lot more weight then previous, we get to see various alien races in this, which are laughable but great fun and not easy to turn away from. I liked K9’s big steps he takes in this book as well, doing things he hasn’t previously done, a huge step up from before, which will hopefully be matched in the final book of the series.

4) K9 And The Missing Planet
Being the final book in the series, K9 And The Missing Planet is quite rightly the best as well. The artwork starts off looking at it’s best whilst the story isn’t in enough detail, but these swap around the further into the story I travelled. This is the sweetest story and the most morale-filled plot, giving a jab at us humans and what we’ve become. David Martin really delivers on this one and there are a few big surprises as well, such as what the planet Tellac once was. Brilliant stuff for the last in the series.

Covers for two of K9's 1980 adventures
K-9 Annual 1983

Produced following the broadcast of 1981’s ‘K-9 And Company’, BBC Television published K-9’s one and only annual to date, focusing more on journalist and ex-companion Sarah Jane Smith rather than the metal mutt himself.

The annual follows the same layout as a 1980s Doctor Who annual, only carrying more stories here and less pointless facts, however we still get features on ‘Solving the Rubik cube’ and ‘The future of television’ which, whilst educational, are pretty boring and unrelated to the show itself.

The stories themselves tend to be fairly Scooby-Doo in style but carry illustrations that are sometimes nice to look at but often don’t bare any resemblance to the actual characters they are meant to portray.

For children I’m sure the stories are great, as I found myself enjoying quite a few of them, although it’s definitely not to be read in one sitting, but I can’t find any interest for children in a lot of the writing that’s gone into the fact elements of the annual.

Due to the nature of not containing much variety, this annual does get pretty old pretty quickly, there’s not even a vast amount of puzzles or games to occupy kids, but certain aspects of this annual are fun to read. At least back in the 1980s you got value for money as the ‘K-9 Annual’ contains probably three times the text as one of today’s annuals would.

Cover art to the 1983 Annual

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