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THE EAGLE SOCIETY is dedicated to the memory of EAGLE - Britain's National Picture Strip Weekly - the leading Boy's magazine of the 1950s and 1960s. We publish a 56 page, A4, quarterly journal - the Eagle Times.

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Sunday, 24 February 2008

Eagle Artists - Keith Watson

Keith Watson (1935 – 1994) was born in Ormesbury, Middlesborough. In 1950, at the age of fifteen, he was inspired by seeing Frank Hampson’s ‘Dan Dare’ in Eagle and he became an instant fan. Although he had received no formal art training, in 1957 or early 1958 he submitted what was to be a successful job application to Frank Hampson, a pastiche front page of Eagle showing, in strip form, Dan & Co.’s reaction to the arrival a new artist – himself. Although there was no vacancy, Hampson was suitably impressed, and in 1958 Keith joined the ‘Dan Dare’ studio team as an assistant artist. After Hampson left in 1959, and Frank Bellamy took over as lead artist on ‘Dan Dare’, Keith continued along with the remainder of Hampson’s team but, dissatisfied at the way of working, he too left in 1960 - to draw ‘Captain Condor’ in Lion.

Two years later, he returned to Eagle as the sole artist on ‘Dan Dare’, and continued until early 1967 when Eagle began reprinting old ‘Dan Dare’ strips. After Eagle, Keith drew strips for a number of comics: ‘Sky Shark’ in Topper, ‘The Space Girls’ in Tina and Princess Tina. In 1968 he drew ‘Captain Scarlet and the Mysterons’ in TV21, and the next year, the title strip in Joe 90. In the late 1970s, he took over the ‘Roel Dijkstra’ football strip for a Dutch publisher. In 1989, he revived the “original” ‘Dan Dare’ for Fleetway's “new” Eagle, after which, in the early 1990s, he drew for Thunderbirds: the Comic. His final work, commissioned by Eagle Society member Rod Barzilay, was for a new “old school” ‘Dan Dare’ strip. After producing some designs and the first page, Keith was diagnosed with cancer. The opening page of ‘The Phoenix Mission’ (which appeared, posthumously, in the first issue of Spaceship Away in 2003) was to be the last he drew.

Eagle 'Dan Dare'strips:
  • The Ship that Lived* ( Vol 9 Nos 5 - 16)
  • The Phantom Fleet* (Vol 9 Nos 17 - 52)
  • Safari in Space * (Vol 10 Nos 1 -18)
  • Terra Nova* (Vol 10 Nos 19 - 40)
  • Trip to Trouble* (Vol 10 No 41 - Vol 11 No 11)
  • Operation Earthsaver (Vol 13 Nos 10 - 23)
  • The Evil One (Vol 13 Nos 24 - 32)
  • Operation Fireball (Vol 13 Nos 33 - 42)
  • The Web of Fear (Vol 13 Nos 43 - 52)
  • Operation Dark Star (Vol 14 Nos 1 - 9)
  • Operation Time Trap (Vol 14 Nos 10 - 38)
  • The Wandering World (Vol 14 No 39 - Vol 15 No 13)
  • The Big City Caper (Vol 15 Nos 14 - 22)
  • All Treens Must Die (Vol 15 Nos 23 - 42)
  • The Mushroom (Vol 15 No 43 - Vol 16 No 6)
  • The Moonsleepers (Vol 16 No 7 - Vol 16 No 29 )
  • The Singing Scourge Vol 16 No 30 - Vol 17 No 6)
  • Give me the Moon (Vol 17 No 7 - Vol 17 No 26)
  • The Menace from Jupiter (Vol 17 No 27 - Vol 18 No 1)
*Assistant on the Dan Dare studio/team

The illustration is a self portrait of Keith sent in by Richard Sheaf, who informs us it is from Strips '80, the handook of the Society of Strip Illustration. It is part of a directory of SSI members and was intended as an introduction for those who attended the SSI conference in November, 1980.

ET Refs:
  • Roger Coombes Keith Watson interview (1991). Eagle Times Vol 4 No 3 – Vol 6 No 1 (7 parts)
  • Vince, Alan. Keith Watson – the artist and friend (obituary) Eagle Times Vol 7 No 2
  • Coombes, Roger. Keith Watson, a tribute (obituary) Eagle Times Vol 7 No 2
  • Britton, David. He wants to be a ... Dan Dare Artist (on Keith Watson’s original job application) Eagle Times Vol 16 No 1
  • Winders, Steve. Keith Watson’s Dan Dare Eagle Times Vol 20 No 1 – Vol 20 No 3

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