Welcome to the web home of THE EAGLE SOCIETY.

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 an A4, quarterly journal - the Eagle Times.

This weblog has been created to provide an additional, more immediate, forum for news and commentary about the society and EAGLE-related issues. Want to know more? See First Post and Eagle - How it began.

Monday 4 December 2023


By Christmas 1951, EAGLE's huge popularity was well established and a wide range of EAGLE and 'Dan Dare' related products had appeared on the market, creating Britain's first character based merchandising success. In the weeks leading up to Christmas, EAGLE advertised many of these products in its pages. They included EAGLE card games, jigsaws, projectors, stationery, balloons, transfer sheets, 'Dan Dare' ray guns, telescopes and ties, 'Riders of the Range' cowboy outfits, ties and braces and the first EAGLE Annual. In addition to the royalties they received for 'Dan Dare' and EAGLE related products, the copyright holders, Hulton Press also gained from the advertising potential that EAGLE provided. At a time when the market for toys, sweets and other merchandise for children and young people was large and growing and commercial television had not begun, EAGLE's popularity made it the ideal place to advertise and advertise they did. In the last November and the first December issues of 1951, EAGLE produced four page supplements filled with adverts for Christmas gifts and for many years to come, these supplements would continue.    

The Christmas issue celebrated the occasion in style, with the letters of the title logo being covered with snow for the first of many times. The EAGLE symbol itself was backed by a Christmas night sky with the star of Bethlehem displayed prominently. At the top of the page, readers were greeted with 'A MERRY CHRISTMAS TO EAGLE READERS' and a decorative trim ran down the left side of the title box. Frank Hampson's 'Dan Dare' strip made a brief acknowledgement of Christmas, despite being in the middle of Dan's second adventure 'The Red Moon Mystery', which was not set at Christmas, when Digby compares himself to Rudolf the red nosed reindeer while struggling through a snowy Martian landscape. 

On page three, the 'PC 49' adventure was also an ongoing serial and made no mention of the season. This strip by Alan Stranks was now drawn by John Worsley, who had replaced Strom Gould earlier in the year.  Christmas was recognised in an article on pages four and five, by EAGLE's Special Investigator Macdonald Hastings, who wrote about driving an old Royal Mail Coach pulled by four horses, which is an image often depicted on Christmas cards and strongly associated with Christmas, thanks to Charles Dickens. This page also carried an 'EAGLE Window' box. These small boxes appeared weekly and advertised EAGLE merchandiseThe 'EAGLE Window' in the Christmas issue was number 34, which gives an indication of the number of licensed products available and there would be many more. This particular window listed several products which cost less than four shillings and gave their prices. The bottom half of page five was devoted to adverts for Caley's Chocolates and Philidyne Cycle Dynamo Lighting Sets.

Page six was the Sports page and it acknowledged the season with a Christmas Soccer Quiz, with questions set by Arsenal's players. At the bottom of the page, the comedy strip 'Grandpa' by Peter Probyn shows the title character buying and wrapping a large present and then opening it himself on Christmas morning - a joke used many years later by Rowan Atkinson as Mr. Bean. Page seven was the 'Riders of the Range' serial 'The Secret of Ghost Mountain', which made no mention of Christmas. This strip, written by Charles Chilton, was now drawn by Angus Scott, who drew three serials before being replaced by Frank Humphris in 1952. The top half of the colour centrespread was a series of pictures by Leslie  Ashwell Wood, showing how the King's Christmas Message was transmitted from Sandringham via Broadcasting House to homes in Britain and throughout the Commonwealth. Readers would be unaware that his 1951 Christmas Message would be the King's last, as he died less than two months later, to be succeeded by his daughter, Queen Elizabeth II. The Christmas Messages were only broadcast on radio until 1957.   

The lower part of the centrespread was the latest episode in the 'Tintin' adventure 'King Ottokar's Sceptre'. This story marked Tintin's first ever appearance in English and came seven years before Methuen began publishing his adventures in albums. Created by the Belgian artist, Georges Remi (who wrote and drew as Herge), the boy reporter Tintin was a huge success with young readers on the continent and would later enjoy great success in Britain, with translations by Leslie Lonsdale Cooper and Michael Turner. However, his first appearance was not a great success in EAGLE and this was the only story to be adapted. This first translation, by an unknown translator retained all the original French names of the characters, with the exception of the inept detectives Dupond and Dupont, who were renamed Thompson and Thomson. Lonsdale Cooper and Turner kept these English names in their own translation and anglicised the names of the other characters, such as Tintin's dog Milou, who was renamed Snowy. As an ongoing serial and part of an already completed story, the 'Tintin' strip made no mention of Christmas.  

 Two half page informative strips occupied page ten and both related to Christmas. The first was in the series 'Great Headlines of the Past' and covered the unofficial 1914 Christmas Truce in the First World War, which oddly did not mention the football matches which took place between British and German troops. The second strip was in the series 'Eagle Eye Nature Detective', a series sponsored by Rowntree's Chocolate, which told the story of mistletoe. Page eleven was the Editor's Page and EAGLE's editor, the Rev. Marcus Morris used his letter to remind readers of the religious basis of Christmas. His reason for launching EAGLE was to promote Christian values and ironically, its success had led to it becoming rather focussed on promoting merchandising! He was clearly anxious that its primary purpose should not be lost. To this end, he also encouraged readers to attend EAGLE's first Carol Service, which was to be held at St. Paul's Cathedral on December 22nd. There was clearly a minor panic behind the scenes about the Carol Service as Morris informed readers in two places on the page and in bold letters that the service would begin at 2.30 p.m. and not 3.30 as stated in previous issues! In future years, EAGLE would organise several carol services each Christmas, which would be held all over the country, usually presided over by either Morris himself or the Rev. Chad Varah, who wrote many back page biographical strips and other features for EAGLE. Varah also took over the scripting of the next 'Dan Dare' adventure 'Marooned on Mercury' when Frank Hampson fell ill. The Editor's Page also included Christmas Greetings accompanied by small pictures of their characters, by EAGLE's artists and the three picture 'Chicko' strip by Norman Thelwell also took a Christmas theme as Chicko slept in his Christmas stocking, leaving a note asking Santa to put his presents in his bed. 

Also on the Editor's Page was a 'Competition Corner' with Christmas based puzzles and a 'Bertram Mills Circus Competition' offering prizes to EAGLE Club members of tickets for the Circus, which in those days spent the Winter season at Olympia in London. The bottom corner of the page advertised the latest EAGLE Club Diary. Readers were regularly invited to join the EAGLE Club, which offered tickets to sports events and shows as well as special offers on some merchandise and access to certain competitions. Initially readers could join for a shilling, which quickly rose to one shilling and sixpence, for which they received a membership card and a metal badge. The Club was a way of securing reader loyalty, but it also emphasised that EAGLE wanted to be more than just a weekly magazine. It wanted to guide its readers to become responsible people. Such innovations as 'Mug of the Month', which rewarded readers for service to others, show this aim quite clearly. EAGLE also organised activity holidays for Club members, including the EAGLE/YHA Adventure Holiday Scheme. Another innovation was the EAGLE and Girl Table Tennis Tournaments, which began in 1954. Although many readers joined the Club, obviously many others did not and consequently EAGLE offered many activities that were not available to everyone. The first clear sign of this problem came with the second year of the Table Tennis Tournament. In the first year, only Club members could take part, but in the second it was open to all and this was strongly emphasised in the publicity. The Club was nevertheless a success for it ran for ten years before being disbanded during Clifford Makins' editorship, but opportunities for readers were maintained.  

Page twelve was entirely devoted to 'Christmas Party Games'. Most of the games described were traditional games, but intriguingly the last game was 'The Dan Dare Game'. However, this was actually a simple tag game, with space pilots trying to get from one base (Earth) through 'space' occupied by Treens, who would try to tag the pilots before they reached their other base (Venus). The top half of page thirteen was 'Can You Beat It?' a regular informative strip and in this issue the information was all about Christmas. Readers were informed that there had only been nine white Christmases in the twentieth century (up until then) and that the first Christmas card had been designed by J.C. Horsley in 1843. The bottom half of the page was devoted to adverts for Subbuteo Table Soccer, Stamp Collecting and ballpoint pens and a plea for readers to save money for the N.S.P.C.C. Both Subbuteo and Philidyne Cycle Dynamo Lighting Sets were also advertised in the 1950 Christmas issue. On page fourteen was John Ryan's comedy strip 'Harris Tweed, Extra Special Agent' and as Tweed's adventures were single episode stories, this one was devoted to Christmas, with Tweed being tied up by thieves at a Christmas party and wrapped up in a giant Christmas Cracker. Fortunately his young assistant manages to catch the thieves and Tweed manages to claim the credit as usual.

On page fifteen in the 'Tommy Walls' strip, sponsored by Walls Ice Cream, Tommy and his friends catch a villainous department store Santa who is hiding stolen watches in one of his Christmas present boxes, ready to sneak them out of the store later. This strip was drawn and probably also written by Richard Jennings, who had a long run illustrating 'Tommy Walls' before moving on to 'Storm Nelson' in October 1953. Jennings also wrote many of the 'Tommy Walls' stories. He would later take over the writing of 'Storm Nelson' when the original writer left the strip and he adapted Arthur Conan Doyle's The Lost World for EAGLE in 1962, for a strip drawn by Martin Aitchison. 

The final page of this issue was the first part of a retelling of the story of the birth of Christ, from the viewpoint of a shepherd boy. Called 'The Shepherd Lad of Bethlehem' it was drawn by the regular back page artist Norman Williams and ran to just two instalments. The first episode ends with the shepherds visiting the baby Jesus and the second features the wise men, one of whom arrives on an elephant! Camels -yes, but an elephant!?  The strip also features a winged angel choir and snow on the hills, which contrasts strongly with Morris and Frank Hampson's 1960 retelling of the story of Jesus' life, which took a more grounded approach.      

This second Christmas EAGLE certainly acknowledged the season and despite the fact that its popularity had made it a merchandising gold mine, it also managed to promote the Christian significance and message in its pages. The confusion about the starting time for the Carol Service did not affect its success and the Annual Carol Services became a highlight of the Christmas season for many readers as services were held all over the country for the next decade.   

Friday 3 November 2023


A notable feature of the 'Dan Dare' strip, particularly in the early days, was that Dan and Digby had relatives, several of whom appeared in the strip. In the original Venus story, Digby actually has a wife and family, who are again featured in a text story in the 1953 Dan Dare Annual, called 'Aunt Anastasia Comes to Stay'. However, with the notable exception of Aunt Anastasia, Digby's family are forgotten in later stories. Aunt Anastasia actually helps to defeat the Mekon's plans to conquer Earth in the first Venus story, when she realises that Digby's apparently reassuring message from Venus about the Treens (made under duress) is actually a clever coded warning. Her contribution leads to Dan Dare calling his new Spaceship 'Anastasia' in her honour. Digby's Aunt appears again at the end of 'Marooned on Mercury' and in two EAGLE Annual stories 'The Double Headed Eagle' and ''Operation Triceratops'. She features alongside many other characters from the saga in Keith Watson's final frame for 'The Menace From Jupiter' in 1967, when Dan was promoted to Spacefleet Controller and even appears in a 'Dan Dare' strip in the new version of EAGLE in 1990 in a story also drawn by Keith Watson.  

Not to be outdone, Dan Dare's Uncle Ivor, an archaeologist, plays a major part in the second 'Dan Dare' adventure 'The Red Moon Mystery', informing Dan of the last visit of the deadly 'Red Moon', many thousands of years earlier, when it destroyed civilisation on Mars. He also appears briefly alongside Aunt Anastasia at the end of 'Marooned on Mercury', but plays a bigger role in 'The Phantom Fleet', where he is one of a group of V.I.P.s on a new spacecraft which is captured by an aquatic race who wish to settle in one of Earth's oceans and he becomes involved in successful peace talks with them. He makes his last appearance in EAGLE in the final frame of 'The Menace From Jupiter'. He also appears in Basil Dawson's 1956  novel Dan Dare on Mars. Three other relatives of Dan also feature in the saga. His nephew, Alastair features in 'The Double Headed Eagle' in EAGLE Annual Number Three, when he competes in the Interplanetary Olympic Games on Venus. Another nephew, Nigel, appears in the weekly EAGLE in the 1964 adventure 'The Big City Caper'. He is a member of a group of disaffected youths who the villain Xel tries to recruit to his cause, but is too sensible to be influenced by the evil megalomaniac. We never learn whether Nigel and Alastair are brothers. The eccentric Uncle Ivor comes across as a confirmed bachelor, which suggests that Dan must have at least one more Uncle. 

The last member of Dan's clan to play a part in the saga is his father, William Dare, who does not actually appear in the story, but is strongly referenced in 'Safari in Space', 'Terra Nova' and 'Trip to Trouble' in 1959. In this series of adventures, Dan travels to another star to search for his father who went missing on an expedition many years earlier. Sadly, the story ends with the discovery that his father has died.  

SIR BOBBY CHARLTON (1937 - 2023)

Eaglers were sorry to hear of the death of Sir Bobby Charlton last week. Bobby had a strong connection with EAGLE many years before he became a World Cup winner with England and a European Cup winner with Manchester United, for he was voted EAGLE Sportsman of the Year for three years in succession, from 1958 to 1960, being the final recipient of the award and the only person to win it three times. He also contributed to a series called 'Soccer- The Bobby Charlton Way' for EAGLE in 1960, where he demonstrated skills in a series of photographs. Bobby experienced tragedy as well as success in his life, surviving the Munich air crash in February 1958, when many of his team mates were killed. The picture below was published in EAGLE when Bobby won his first Sportsman of the Year award. Bobby told readers that he enjoyed reading the Cutaway drawings as he had considered a career in engineering. 

After leaving Manchester United in 1973, Bobby became manager of Preston North End and later also played for Preston, where I watched him many times. After leaving Preston, he became a Director of Wigan Athletic and subsequently joined the Board of Manchester United. He was a true sportsman and a great example to the young - a worthy EAGLE  Sportsman of the Year.     

(Tribute by Steve Winders) 


Monday 9 October 2023


The Autumn edition of EAGLE Times is out now. It features a wide range of articles including a look at 'Riders of the Range' and 'Blackbow the Cheyenne' artist Frank Humphris' sketchbook, by Richard Sheaf and a piece by Brett Gooden about the early cutaway drawings of Leslie Ashwell Wood. Also in this issue are articles by Steve Winders about the 'Mark Question' strip, 'The Great Charlemagne' and the EAGLE novel, Luck of the Legion's Desert Adventure, an article by Peter Barr about the sports strip artist Mazure, a selection of readers'letters from the 1950s EAGLE by David Britton, a complete new Archie Willoughby story and two of my 'In and Out of the EAGLE' pages. My recent post from the blog about 'Eagles Dare' beer (see below) is also included, along with our editor's review of the beer which he bought on a recent visit to Southport. Copies can be ordered from Bob Corn at the address on the right.  

Monday 21 August 2023


Dan Dare has lent his name to a wide variety of merchandise over the years, with everything from pyjamas to tooth powder being licenced. However, there has never been a 'Dan Dare' beer until recently when Southport Brewery launched their 'EAGLE'S DARE' bronze bitter. I contacted the brewer, Paul Bardsley to enquire ask about it and he replied: 

"We started making it (using its current recipe) in July 2021 and since then have made an estimated 8000 litres of it.
The original recipe for it was shared with another beer we named 'Ruck & Maul' that we had created in partnership with the local rugby club. However, as the name is owned by Tatton Brewery, we were limited to selling it to the Southport area (with their permission). Using the alternate name of EAGLE'S DARE allowed it to be sold outside of our seaside town.

In July 2021, we made the decision to give Eagle's Dare its own recipe as it is, in my view, the best looking badge we have for our beers.
All our beers are Southport themed. As you well know, the Eagle has links with our town and we're very proud that is does so. There is an Eagle/Dan Dare display in the Atkinson (the local art centre) on the second floor which makes me childishly giddy every time I see it. I only got into it in the 90's when I was but a laddie up in Scotland but my boss (Boss Paul as opposed to Other/Scapegoat Paul who is currently writing this) used to nick the magazine from his older brother when he was a child, back in the 1960s.

The beer itself is a bronze bitter. It has a really powerful and satisfying bitter bite at the start and is followed with a dry, floral palate. It's a 'standard' bitter to our standards, although with considerably more hops than the 'standard bitters' that are touted by chain pubs. It's quickly achieved its own following locally which is really nice to see and makes us feel validated as brewers.

At the moment, it's currently available in cask only. Even worse, it's only available locally to us as we are a small brewery and our range is limited. Best place to find it is either The Waterpudlian in Waterloo/Crosby, or The Guesthouse in Southport. Unfortunately, we have no control as to when it goes on asides from delivering the beer.

We do also offer it in 5 litre (9 pints) cans when we make a batch. Only while stock lasts but it's semi-permanent. If it's out of stock, it's usually only for a couple of weeks before we can make a fresh batch. Available from our online shop or, if you're in Southport, Portland Wines on Portland Street (though you can always come by and get one from us too)".

Sunday 13 August 2023


 Our subscription address has now changed. Our secretary has moved to Wales and the new details are on the right. 

Sunday 6 August 2023


Superheroes in comics often have secret identities and while the original EAGLE's heroes had no need for them, some of their creators certainly used false names. Between 1950 and March 1962, EAGLE printed writer and artist credits on most strips, text stories and articles, but several contributors used pen names for their work. Geoffrey Bond wrote 'Luck of the Legion' using his own name, but wrote the back page biographies of Baden Powell and Abraham Lincoln as Alan Jason. Alan Stranks wrote 'PC 49's adventures as himself, but wrote the short 'Marvell of M.I.5' series as David Cameron. The screenwriter Guy Morgan didn't use his own name at all in EAGLE, writing 'Storm Nelson' as Edward Trice. Likewise, the television and film writer Leonard Fincham wrote 'Danger Unlimited' as Steve Alen and several text serials, including the 'Special Agent' series about Inspector Jean Collet of Interpol as Lee Mayne. He later developed this into a TV series called Interpol Calling, although he created new stories and changed the names of the heroes to avoid copyright issues. Another television writer, Basil Dawson, wrote part of the 'Dan Dare' story 'Operation Saturn' as Don Riley, but he wrote the novel Dan Dare on Mars using his own name. Francis Dickson wrote several books and three back page biographies for EAGLE as R.B. Saxe and J.H.G. Freeman, usually known as Don Freeman, wrote several books as well, as 'Knights of the Road' for EAGLE as Gordon Grinstead. The celebrated science fiction writer Arthur C. Clarke had a short story 'The Fires Within' published in an early issue of EAGLE under the pen name of Charles Willis, which he used for several short stories at the time and Clifford Makins, who succeeded Marcus Morris as editor of EAGLE, wrote the back page biography of Nelson as Christopher Keyes. An EAGLE artist who used another name was Bruno Kleinzeller, who escaped from Czechoslovakia shortly before the Nazis invaded and subsequently used the name Peter Kay for his work in Britain, which included 'drop in' illustrations for the text stories of 'The Three 'J's' in EAGLE as well as several strips for Girl.   

The contributors had different reasons for using pseudonyms but none were for tax evasion or anything else illegal. The real writers have often been identified through surviving payment details which clearly record their true identities. As a contributor to the Daily Mirror, J.H.G. Freeman used 'Gordon Grinstead' for his other work. Geoffrey Bond used 'Alan Jason' to avoid having two strips appearing in EAGLE at the same time using the same name and Francis Dickson used 'R.B. Saxe' for all his writing. However, in the 1960s when EAGLE was produced by Odhams, there was a company rule that editorial staff should not be paid for any scriptwriting they did, leading to several staff being paid through agents when they were called upon to write stories. While writers and artists were no longer credited in the weekly, records of payment were obviously kept and could have revealed staff breaking company rules, so agents were used and named on the records.