The Avengers TV series made its debut 60 years ago today on January 7th, 1961. The show began as a replacement for Police Surgeon, starring Ian Hendry. In The Avengers, Hendry played a doctor involved in criminal intrigue and investigations with the aid of a mysterious agent named John Steed, played by Patrick Macnee. By series two, Hendry had left and Macnee found himself working alongside a strong, independent female character named Cathy Gale, played by Honor Blackman. By then The Avengers magic was beginning to coalesce and Steed transformed from a dirty-mac wearing enigma into that sparkling gentleman with bowler and umbrella whom we all adored. When Blackman left to make Goldfinger, Diana Rigg joined the project as Mrs. Emma Peel (my first crush). Where Blackman had pioneered leather-style gear -an important cornerstone in the genre- Rigg was well-timed to reflect the burgeoning Mod fashion scene with a host of mini skirts, geometric graphics, and striped (and leather) jumpsuits. And even more crucial, both actresses became important role-models at a time when powerful, modern women were not so visible on television. Sadly, both actresses passed away in 2020, along with Sean Connery (007), Margaret Nolan, and Robert Conrad (Wild Wild West). Actress Linda Thorson replaced Rigg for the last classic season (1968-1969) and The Avengers moved even further into Pop Art-inspired territory. For me, the series is up there with The Prisoner as the best of the Sixties and it all started 60 years ago today! To celebrate the anniversary, UK designer Matt Needle has crafted an amazing series of prints (very limited edition) that not only capture the personality of each iteration of the series, but also reflects some of the main elements that were happening at the time in graphic design and fine art. See below for samples. Spy Vibers could see the (now sold out) designs at his on-line shop. Dr. Keel and 1970s-era New Avengers images also will be added to complete a set of five Avengers designs. Fans of the series and design should also check out the work at Art & Hue. Enjoy!
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