"I'M A FREE MAN, NOT AN ACTION MAN!"
With the proliferation of Prisoner merchandise and books in recent years, fans may wonder why more items were not produced when the series first aired in 1967. Short of a few novels and a Mini Moke from Dinky toys, the tv series seemed to have missed the boat where merchandise was concerned.
The latest issue of Jaz Wiseman's Persuaders/ITC fan magazine 'The Morning After' reveals that this was down to Patrick McGoohan himself. In an exhaustively researched article on ITC series in comic strips, the author Martin Gainsford explains that McGoohan was presented with prototypes of potential Prisoner merchandise but rejected them. When shown ideas for a Number Six Action Man-style figure and a Prisoner comic strip (planned for either TV Tornado or TV21) by Century 21 Merchandising Manager Richard Culley, McGoohan retorted "I'm not going to be a dolly or a comic strip!"
McGoohan's previous series, Danger Man, had appeared in comics of course, on both sides of the Atlantic. However, the actor had more control over The Prisoner, and was clearly determined to use it. This explains why The Prisoner only appeared as a cover image on TV Tornado weekly once (issue 48), but not as an interior strip. (Two versions of a Prisoner comic book for Marvel Comics in the mid-seventies also never saw the light of day and remained unfinished and half-pencilled and inked, though possibly for different reasons).
Although it would have been intriguing to see a weekly Prisoner comic strip in a British comic, one must respect McGoohan's viewpoint. The Prisoner was more cerebral in tone than other ITC shows which made it to comics, and simplifying it for a children's comic would have been pointless. Likewise, a Number Six action man figure would most likely have been way down the Christmas list next to the more appropriate Captain Scarlet figure which premiered at that time.
Despite McGoohan's disapproval of a Prisoner comic strip, Number Six did actually appear in a spoof within the "Charlie's Choice" strip in SMASH! comic in 1968, with an excellent likeness of the actor by artist Brian Lewis. Being a satire, it's unlikely permission would have been sought or required prior to publication.
For more information on The Morning After magazine, click HERE.
CLICK HERE TO RETURN TO THE NEWS ARCHIVE
CLICK HERE TO RETURN TO THE MAIN UNMUTUAL HOME PAGE