Alan Fennell, editor, TV Century 21, finds that the success of AP Films has been achieved because of two major considerations: the ability to supply a property that is fresh and imaginative, and the technique of making that property pure entertainment.
A subsidiary venture to come from the merchandising exploitation of the Supercar and Fireball XL5 films was the placing of strip cartoons in a children's publication.
A measure of success was gained but AP Films were not in complete control. Other business minds held sway over the outcome of origination and concept and so the full potential of the medium could not be realised.
Then, just over a year ago, it was decided as a joint venture with City Magazines to produce a new children's comic based on the properties of AP Films.
It was a bold decision, for circulations were dwindling; the industry was becoming disillusioned with weekly publications for children.
Despite the tremendous risks, TV Century 21 was launched. Immediately it was a sensation. Children flocked to newsagents throughout the country to get their copy of the comic with the new lively look and the odd title. All the old 'do's and don'ts' of publishing had been ignored in one fell swoop. The originators asked why things could not be done... and then did them.
After a full year of publication, TV21 is still Britain's top selling comic, and next month's Thunderbirds will take over pride of place in the paper's editorial make-up. Contrary to all present trends, sales must rocket upwards and so another success for AP Films will be consolidated.
As with the television films, progress and expansion in children's publishing in partnership with City Magazines was decided as a vital policy. A new publication was envisaged. The line of thought was natural. A sister paper to TV 21 was needed.
One character emerged from the Thunderbirds productions as an ideal vehicle: Lady Penelope had elegance, charm and was involved in deadly danger. It was decided to use her name on the mast-head of the most dynamic girls' comic ever produced.
Lady Penelope will be launched next month and already it is being acclaimed by newsagents and booksellers as a winner. Thunderbirds are go... and so are AP Films'/City Magazines' publications for children.