|Centrespread illustration by Bruce Cornwell|
Spaceship Away, No. 12, Summer 2007
Sadly we have heard of the death, on 2nd March 2012, of one of the original artists who worked on the 'Dan Dare' strip, Bruce Cornwell.
Though born in Canada, A. Bruce Cornwell was raised as a child in California, USA, before coming to Europe to study art at Regent Street Polytechnic in London and the Académie Julian in Paris. During the Second World War he served in the British Merchant Navy. After the war he became a maritime artist and freelance illustrator, before joining the staff of Eagle in early 1950.
In an article written for Eagle Times in 1998 Bruce told how he came to work on Eagle, after answering an advertisement in a trade paper, presumably in late 1949. Although used to working solo, he then found himself as part of a team working on 'Dan Dare' with Frank Hampson and the rest of the studio team in the lean-to shed and former bakery which was the original studio in Southport. His main contribution to 'Dan Dare' was not so much on figure work, though he could do that if needed, but specialising in technical subjects: buildings, machinery, spaceships: "All the work stemmed from Frank's superb roughs and my reason for being there was to take over most of the drawing of machinery."
After objecting to the excessive working hours, Bruce left the studio some time during Dan Dare's first adventure (which, incidentally, ran for about a year and a half). Later, after the team's move to the new studio in Epsom, Bruce returned under the promise that the work schedule would be less demanding. It wasn't, and after he was refused leave when the work began affecting his health, he left again.
In 1960, after Hampson's team had been broken up, he returned to work with Don Harley on four 'Dan Dare' stories, staying for two years until 1962, when Keith Watson took over.
In addition to 'Dan Dare', Bruce's contributions to Eagle included 'Ships Through the Ages', (some) 'Tommy Walls', and four cutaway drawings, all of nautical subjects. He contributed many of the illustrations, including a number of cutaway drawing designs, to Dan Dare's Spacebook (1953) and Dan Dare's Space Annual 1963. In addition to his work for Eagle he also drew 'Sammy In Space' (with Desmond Walduck) in Swift, 'Space Captain Jim Stalwart' in Junior Mirror, 'Danny Dare' (with Leo Baxendale) in Wham! and 'Journey into Space' (following Ferdinando Tacconi) in Express Weekly. The scope of his commercial art included book covers and line illustrations, the best known being those he did for the Kemlo and Tas children's science fiction series by E.C. Eliott.
By 1998, when he wrote for Eagle Times, he was "still working" but had retired from commercial work projects, dividing his time between painting and exhibiting, assisting his wife with her business and indulging his favourite hobby: maintaining and running a number of classic cars. Bruce was one of the Eagle Society's special guests at the Grail Centre, Pinner for our 13th Annual Dinner in 1999. More recently he had been persuaded to contribute a number of 'Dan Dare' themed painted illustrations to Spaceship Away, including the one shown above.
The news of Bruce's death arrived with us after the Spring 2012 issue of Eagle Times went to press. The issue includes an article by Jeremy Briggs on Bruce's cutaway drawings. We will be including an obituary in our Summer issue.