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.

Thursday, 1 December 2022


Dan Dare encountered the 'Sargasso Sea of Space' in Reign of the Robots  and The Ship That Lived, but two years earlier in 1955, the American writer Alice Norton,under her pseudonym of 'Andrew North', wrote a novel which used the name, although not the idea. Dan Dare's Sargasso was a dead zone in space where damaged spaceships drifted and gathered. Norton's book features a planet from which a group of wreckers use sophisticated equipment to pull in ships, so that they can capture and loot them. The book was later reprinted and credited to Norton's more familiar 'nom de plume' of Andre Norton. Her book was not the first Sargasso of Space though. 

A 1931 novelette by Edmond Hamilton also used the title and in Hamilton's story the Sargasso is a dead zone in space full of wrecks of damaged ships. A ship commanded by a Captain Crain drifts into the zone when its fuel tanks leak and just like Dan Dare, Crain and his crew escape by taking fuel from another ship in the zone. It is quite possible that this story inspired the Sargasso incident in Reign of the Robots. Hamilton's story first appeared in the American Astounding Stories magazine which was imported into Britain and Australia before the War, so either Frank Hampson or the writer Alan Stranks (in Australia) might well have read it. The real Sargasso Sea is an area of the north western Atlantic where several currents meet and deposit marine plants and refuse. It is named after the Sargassum seaweed, which is found there in abundance. An old tradition of sailing ships becoming becalmed there is merely due to the calm winds of the Horse Latitudes. 

Monday, 14 November 2022


In 1982, the year that the new version of EAGLE was launched, a pop group called Loose Talk released a single called Dan Dare, about our hero. Written by band member Ray Walton, it was heavily promoted in EAGLE and was played on Radio One, where it was Tony Blackburn's Record of the Week. A video was made featuring the band wearing costumes previously used in the James Bond film Moonraker and the TV series Space 1999 and incorporating frames from the Return of the Mekon strip from EAGLE, drawn by Oliver Frey and Ian Kennedy, but it was not a hit. Although associated with Dan's Great Great Grandson as featured in the 1980s EAGLE, a reference in the  song to 'Satellite XQY' recalls the original Dan's adventure Prisoners of Space which Ray Walton had read when it was reprinted in EAGLE in 1967. 

The group followed the song up with one about 2000 A.D.'s  Judge Dredd. However I.P.C. Magazines were unhappy with some of the lyrics and placed a High Court Injunction on the record. I.P.C. lost the subsequent case and the record was eventually released. The phrase that particularly offended IP.C. was 'Judge Dredd, he's bad'. It was argued that 'bad' actually meant 'good' in the context of the song. 

Another song entitled Dan Dare was recorded by the Punk Rock group The Mekons in 1978 and featured on their debut album The Quality of Mercy is Not Strnen (not a misprint!). As the group's name indicates, they were fans of Dan Dare. Although they have undergone significant changes in personnel and musical styles over the years and ceased activity for a while, they still perform to this day, with their latest album being released in 2020. 

Back in 1975, Elton John released his own Dan Dare song, written by himself and Bernie Taupin, on his Rock of the Westies album. Elton wanted to release the song as the album's first single, but he was overruled and Island Girl was chosen instead. His Dan Dare was never released as a single, but it resurfaced in 2002 when it was used as the closing music for the computer generated Dan Dare TV series.  

Friday, 11 November 2022


The Web of Fear was a ten part Dan Dare adventure which began in EAGLE in the issue dated October 20th 1962. Written by David Motton and illustrated in black and white by Keith Watson, it featured an invasion of Earth by giant spider-like creatures which covered huge areas with dense destructive webs. Not one of Dan's most memorable adventures, it nevertheless had a memorable title, which was taken up six years later by Mervyn Haisman and Henry Lincoln for a six part Doctor Who serial, beginning on February 3rd 1968. 

Set principally in the London Underground, it did not feature spiders, but the Yeti creatures they had created for their Abominable Snowmen serial for Doctor Who some months earlier and which were controlled by a being that called itself 'The Great Intelligence'. The 'web' of the title referred to a deadly web-like fungus which engulfs much of London, necessitating a mass evacuation of the city. This story is regarded by many Doctor Who fans as a classic. It marks the first appearance of Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart (then a mere Colonel) who would prove to be one of the Doctor's longest serving and most popular companions. The title was used again three years later, for an episode of another B.B.C. science fiction series - Doomwatch. This story was broadcast in February 8th 1971 and did include spiders. A vaccine experiment goes out of control and results in hundreds of spiders carrying a deadly virus. It was written by Kit Pedler and Gerry Davis, who had also contributed stories for Doctor Who and would certainly have encountered the title when used on that programme. Whether they had encountered Dan Dare's Web of Fear is not known, but Kit Pedler had been a Dan Dare fan in his boyhood. 

In the interests of completion, there was also a Spanish/French contemporary thriller film called Web of Fear, directed by Francois Villiers in 1964, but clearly David Motton used the title first on Dan Dare 

Wednesday, 9 November 2022


 The Autumn issue of EAGLE Times is out now. Articles cover Dan Dare's lesser known rivals, girls in EAGLE, Luck of the Legion, the Canadian Pacific Railway and a report on our 2022 Gathering in Greenwich. There are also tributes to our late member, Adrian Perkins, who was greatly involved in Dan Dare fandom for over forty years, including being a key member of the EAGLE Times editorial team. There are two instalments of In and Out of the EAGLE, about the artist Fortunino Matania and the radio hero Dick Barton. A Letters' Page, the first episode of a new Sergeant Archie Berkeley-Willoughby adventure and the text of Steve Winders' talk at the Society's Gathering complete the issue. 

Tuesday, 21 June 2022

EAGLE TIMES Vol. 35 No. 2


The Summer edition of EAGLE Times is out now. It features an impressive cover by Alan Langford of Captain Condor, Dan Dare's rival from Lion weekly, who appears inside in an article by John Freeman. Also in this issue are the latest episodes of David Britton's study of the Riders of the Range adventure Last of the Fighting Cheyenne and his ongoing story of the Canadian Pacific Railway. There are the final parts of Steve Winders' examination of EAGLE's back page strip about David Livingstone and his Archie Willoughby story The Case of the Coveted Coffin and the first part of a new series by Steve about the Luck of the Legion novels. Dan Dare model figures are explored in an article by Gerald Edwards and there is a new In and Out of the EAGLE by me. A subscription to EAGLE Times costs £ 30 including postage in the U.K. and it can be ordered from Bob Corn at the address on the right.     

Wednesday, 11 May 2022



In January 1971 a new weekly for young readers appeared on the news-stands. Described as the ‘Junior TV Times’, Look-In was published by Independent Television Publications, like its parent ITV listings magazine. It also carried two pages of listings of ITV programmes that should appeal to its target audience of 8 – 14 year olds. Originally edited by Alan Fennell, who had previously edited TV Century 21 during its most successful period, it was produced on glossy paper with eight of its twenty four in colour. Comic strips occupied just eight pages initially, with much of the publication devoted to features about television shows and their stars and other features such as sport, linked to TV programmes or their presenters. However there was a slight increase in the strip content as the weekly became established. The strips were almost all based on ITV programmes or TV personalities. In the earliest issues the main strip was Timeslip, from the children’s serial about time travel. This was illustrated by Mike Noble, whose first strip work was drawing Simon and Sally in EAGLE’s companion paper Robin. Mike later became an established adventure strip artist, drawing Fireball XL5 and Captain Scarlet for TV Century 21. Timeslip occupied two colour pages. Another early adventure strip was Freewheelers, drawn by Vicente Alcazar and later Jorge Badia, in black and white. Also in early issues were a two page black and white strip of Please Sir! a popular TV comedy series set in a school. This was drawn by Graham Allen, whose previous work included cartoon strips for several of Odhams’ Power Comics and Typhoon Tracy for Tiger. He would later draw some episodes of the Please Sir! spin off, The Fenn Street Gang. A historical strip adapted from a serial called Wreckers at Deadeye was drawn by C.L. Doughty who had replaced Robert Ayton as artist of Jack O’Lantern in EAGLE.

The free gift given in the first issue was a press out model of the Magpie TV studio. Magpie was ITV’s answer to BBC’s long running educational ‘magazine’ programme Blue Peter and originally it was planned to name the magazine after the programme, but having its own title freed Look-In to develop its own distinct style. It also outlived Magpie by nearly fourteen years, so the decision was undoubtedly the right one. The model included press our figures of Magpie’s presenters, one of whom was Susan Stranks, the daughter of PC 49’s creator, Alan. The early issues carried photo covers, but these were soon replaced by painted ones by the poster artist Arnaldo Putzu, which made Look-In instantly recognisable and visually appealing for the buyer seeing it on a news-stand.  

Many ITV programmes only ran for one or two series, so Look-In featured a lot of different strips during its twenty three year life. Mike Noble worked on the paper until the mid 1980s and in that time drew The Famous Five, Follyfoot, Worzel Gummidge, The Adventures of Black Beauty, Space 1999, Kung Fu, The Man from Atlantis and Robin of Sherwood, among others. Look-In also featured the work of many other talented artists. These included John Burns, who had illustrated Wrath of the Gods for Boys’ World and EAGLE in the mid sixties and The Fists of Danny Pike and a Dan Dare adventure for the new EAGLE in the 1980s. He drew Magnum, The Bionic Woman, Space 1999, The Tomorrow People, Smuggler and How the West Was Won. Brian Lewis, who had drawn Mann of Battle, The Guinea Pig and the humorous strip Blunderbirds for EAGLE, drew a humorous strip based on a character played by the comedian Les Dawson. He also drew the adventure strips Freewheelers and Mark Strong, a strip based on an action figure. Gerry Embleton, who drew a few Riders of the Range episodes in the original EAGLE and the early Dan Dare episodes in the new version, drew Catweazle for Look-In. Tom Kerr, who drew Oddball Oates in the combined Lion and EAGLE in 1969, drew Crowther in Trouble in early issues and later Doctor in Charge and The Fenn Street Gang. 

An artist who first came to prominence in Look-In was Arthur Ranson, who drew strips as diverse as the fantasy adventure Sapphire and Steel and the cartoon Dangermouse. He illustrated The ‘A’ Team and a series of biographical strips about popstars, including The Beatles and ABBA. Artists on Look-In tended to move around strips and Ranson also worked on Doctor in Charge, The Bionic Woman, Buck Rogers in the 25th Century and Robin of Sherwood. John Bolton also drew The Bionic Woman and Martin Asbury also drew Buck Rogers and Kung Fu. Asbury contributed many strips to Look-In over the years, including Battlestar Galactica, Dick Turpin and The Six Million Dollar Man. Harry North illustrated On the Buses, Supergran and ALF (Alien Life Form),  Phil Gascoine drew Knight Rider and Robin of Sherwood and Bill Titcombe, who came to Look-In after years of experience on TV Comic, drew Inspector Gadget, Dogtanian, Scooby Doo and strips based on comedy characters played by Cannon and Ball and Benny Hill, although the Benny Hill strip was first drawn by Andy Christine. The Six Million Dollar Man and The Bionic Woman teamed up in 1979 in a strip called Bionic Action, which was drawn by Ian Gibson, Ron Tiner, John Richardson and Mike White.   

Despite the limited number of strips in each issue, Look-In managed to include a great many different ones in its run. Other strips I have not mentioned include Pathfinders, Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea, Bless This House, Man About the House, Just William, Mind Your Language, Terrahawks, Charlie’s Angels, The Fall Guy and Magnum P.I. There was also a fictional adventure strip about the actor and popstar David Cassidy!

Although Look-In employed many of the best strip artists available, most of the stories were written by one man. This was Angus P. Allan, the son of Carney Allan, who had written Mann of Battle for EAGLE. Angus had never written for EAGLE, but he wrote the New English Library’s 1977 novelisation of the very first Dan Dare adventure. His scripts for the Dangermouse strip were enjoyed so much by the TV cartoon’s makers that they were adapted for television and he wrote several new ones for television too. Angus had first worked with Alan Fennell on TV Century 21 in the mid sixties. Fennell left Look-In in 1975 and was replaced by art editor Colin Shelbourn. Geoff Cowan, the son of Edward Cowan the author of many strips for the sixties EAGLE, including Blackbow the Cheyenne and Cornelius Dimworthy, was chief sub editor on Look-In and wrote several comedy strips including the Benny Hill and Leslie Crowther pages. Finally Scott Goodall, who wrote Manix, Walk or Die and Invisible Boy for the 1980s EAGLE, wrote On the Buses. 

Due to licensing arrangements, Look-In commissioned an unusual number of unused strips. A proposed strip about the robot Metal Mickey never appeared because the character's creator objected to its depiction in Bill Titcombe's pilot episode. Subsequently plans for the strip were dropped, following continuing difficulties. Other unpublished pages exist, including a proposed colour opening episode for The New Avengers and this series never appeared as a strip in Look In. Initially only two episodes of a strip about the American Police series CHIPS appeared in the weekly (in 1979) because a licensing agreement broke down. However an agreement was eventually reached two years later and a CHIPS strip then ran for nearly two years. 

In September 1972 Look-In introduced a four page ‘Pop Pullout’ and subsequently much more emphasis was placed on popstars, particularly those who appealed to young teenage girls. This proved popular with its target audience and kept sales high, but was less appreciated by the male readership, as evidenced by comments from its former and now adult readers, such as comic artist Lew Stringer, who wrote an interesting Comics Blog called Blimey! for several years. He wrote “Look-In had always been aimed at both sexes but now it felt like it was turning into Jackie.” Comics enthusiast Norman Boyd replied on Lew’s blog: “I too had the first couple of years and gradually got cheesed off with the Donny Osmond type stuff.” However the strip content was maintained and despite losing some male readers, it clearly gained some female ones. 

Over the years, Look-In included some excellent informative features which would not have been out of place in EAGLE.  A good example is Survival, which took its name from a television show that explored wildlife under threat. There were also science articles, written by Peter Fairlie, who was the Science editor for Independent Television News. World of Sport and On the Ball, named after the ITV sports programmes, featured articles by Brian Moore, the ITV sports commentator and various sports personalities. The disc jockey and children’s TV presenter, Ed Stewart wrote a regular page for the magazine from the first issue until 1980. This took several forms, including a news page and articles about his work in radio. How? was named after the TV show which explained in clear terms how things work and the magician David Nixon showed readers how to perform simple tricks.

Like Fennell’s earlier weekly, TV Century 21, Look-In was undoubtedly influenced by the early EAGLE. On TV Century 21 he had engaged some of EAGLE’s best former artists to produce a high quality weekly of EAGLE’s size, with eight pages in colour and printed in photogravure by Eric Bemrose, EAGLE’s printer. The front page was presented as a future newspaper, using an idea which had also originated in EAGLE, on the Dan Dare strip. In Look-In, high quality printing was first provided by Southernprint of Poole in Dorset and later by Carlisle Web Offset. Fennell also included a lot of well written educational and informative features, along with high quality strips and he wrote signed editorials to his readers, just as EAGLE’s Marcus Morris and Clifford Makins had done. 

I believe that in its turn Look-In influenced the 1980s EAGLE. In his book Comic Strip Hero, Barrie Tomlinson, the new EAGLE’s originator and group editor, wrote that one of the aspects of the old EAGLE that he was keen to include in the new version was the involvement of well know personalities to write for the weekly. While some famous people had made contributions to the original EAGLE, notably on the sports pages, the involvement of personalities was much greater in Look- In. Barrie Tomlinson recruited the disc jockey and children’s TV presenter Mike Read to write for EAGLE, just as Look-In had employed Ed Stewart. He also praised the way that the original EAGLE engaged with readers through the Editor’s letter and clubs, competitions and offers. Accepting that the first EAGLE was his inspiration, he must have been greatly encouraged to say the least by the fact that a contemporary magazine whose editor also engaged with the readership and provided a blend of strips, features and competitions had proved such a success.

Look-In was a major success at a time when comics sales were in steady decline. Launched twenty months after the original EAGLE was absorbed into Lion, it continued for the next twelve years when there was no EAGLE and then lasted throughout the life of the new EAGLE, outliving it by two months. None of the I.P.C. comics which already existed when Look-In was launched were still running when it closed. Sales were undoubtedly stimulated by its strong links to television, but there were several other weeklies devoted to television over the years and only TV Comic, which began at a much healthier time for comics (in 1951) ran for longer, but it folded a decade before Look-In.

Clear indications of Look-In’s quality are the three Facebook groups devoted to the magazine, the two books published about it and the prices it sells for on Amazon and e-bay. Like EAGLE it is fondly remembered.



Saturday, 30 April 2022



Their name appears in every single issue of Eagle, Girl, Swift, Robin and Boys’ World and in every issue of the 1980s Eagle and countless other British comics and magazines, although most readers probably never saw it. Along with the title and Dan Dare, Gordon and Gotch and the Central News Agency of South Africa are the only other constant names in the two versions of Eagle. Gordon and Gotch appeared at the bottom of a page in the publisher’s details as the ‘sole agents for Australia and New Zealand’ and the Central News Agency as agents for South Africa. These two companies were independent of each other, but had worked closely together since 1904 when they reached an agreement that Gordon and Gotch would become sole agents for C.N.A. in Britain while their branches in the Cape and Natal would be taken over by C.N.A. 

Born in Kettering Northamptonshire in 1829, John Speechly Gotch was a dentist, who sailed from Liverpool to seek his fortune in the U.S.A. in 1849. While in New York to learn about the manufacture of false teeth he heard about the discovery of gold in Victoria and in 1853 he sailed on the clipper Peytona, bound for Australia. However the ship was wrecked off the coast of Mauritius and Gotch escaped with only his nightshirt on his back and penniless. He worked as a dentist in Mauritius for eleven weeks to earn enough money for his passage to Melbourne and on arrival he made for Fryer Creek near Castlemaine where the latest gold strike had been reported. The above painting from 1855 by Edwin Stocqueler shows gold digging in Australia. Unfortunately all Gotch found was a small nugget worth about £3 before he ran out of money and provisions. He also injured his foot with a pick. He returned to Melbourne on the back of a teamster’s wagon, because he could hardly walk and he was almost penniless again – he actually had tuppence ha’penny left. There he met a Scotsman called Alexander Gordon who ran a market stall which sold newspapers and was also an advertising agent for the Melbourne Argus. He initially offered John a job selling papers and organising advertisers, but Gotch proved so adept that a few weeks later Gordon offered him a partnership which depended on his ability to sell as many newspapers in the diggings as Gordon sold on his stall. Both men flourished and the partnership was duly established. It was suggested that they should have an agreement drawn up by a lawyer, to which Gordon responded “If we are honest men we do not need a lawyer; and if we are dishonest, no lawyer can make us honest.”

Although at this time two principal newspapers were published in Melbourne, imported British publications like The Illustrated London News, Home News and Lloyds were more popular as colonists were eager for news of home. Consequently there was great competition among newsagents to acquire the most recent editions and the arrival of a ship was always eagerly anticipated in the town. When a ship was arriving it would send a semaphore signal to a lookout station on the coast. A messenger then hurried to a hill known as Flagstaff Gardens and hoisted a flag which indicated the ship’s departure point. When Gotch saw the red and white flag which indicated that a vessel was arriving from London, he would hurry by hansom cab to the port ready to collect his parcels and race his rivals back to town. The new firm was able to move from their market stall to permanent offices in 1856 and when Gordon sold his interest in the company to Gotch in 1859 to return to Scotland, the firm was pre-eminent in Melbourne as news and advertising agents and as distributors of newspapers and periodicals from Britain. In 1860 John’s brother William joined the business and the following year his brother in law Alfred Jones also joined. Branches were opened in Sydney in 1861, London in 1867 and Brisbane in 1875. Each involved a partnership in which John held at least a half share and was directly involved in their management. In 1874 John travelled to London personally to tackle a crisis created by a defaulting clerk. 

The branches were not uniform in their activities, which ranged from the import and distribution of newspapers, printing supplies and stationery, printing and publishing of books such as The Australian Handbook, advertising and a press telegraph service. Well before the turn of the century, the London Office extended its work to general exports and the Australian Offices extended to the importing of such items as machinery and pianos. New branches were opened in Perth in 1894 and Wellington in New Zealand in 1899. John died in September 1901, but a small group of his relatives continued to exercise a considerable degree of control. The Company thrived, extending operations to the U.S.A. and Canada. American publications began to be imported, but the Company always imported significantly more British ones. Despite the problems created by two World Wars, which included the London Office being bombed in the Blitz and imports of publications to Australasia being restricted in favour of more vital supplies, the Company managed to survive and when Eagle began in 1950, Gordon and Gotch were the agents for most British publishers in Australia and New Zealand. Consequently when Eagle’s publishers changed, their agents in Australasia remained the same. The success of Eagle in Britain and Australia led to the creation of an Australian version, which ran from 1953 to 1955 by the Adelaide Advertiser newspaper, under licence from Hulton Press. Printed on cheap newsprint and with less colour than the British original, it ran for eighty six issues, but like many Australian based children’s weeklies of the time, it struggled because the market was not large enough. It also competed with the imported original. In the final issue, the editor John Collins assured readers that arrangements had been made for more copies of the British version to be available from newsagents all over Australia and indeed Gordon and Gotch rose to the occasion and more copies were imported to meet demand.

 The Company was still operating when the new Eagle was launched in 1982 and were again listed as sole agents for Australia and New Zealand. Although the Company is now part of PMP Limited, it still operates as Gordon and Gotch in Australasia. In Britain, the Gordon and Gotch name survives as Gordon and Gotch Publishing following a management buyout from Rupert Murdoch’s ownership in 1992. They produce a wide range of software for publishers. So the name of Gordon and Gotch lives on and if yet another version of Eagle ever appears, it is quite possible that once again Gordon and Gotch may be ‘sole agents for Australia and New Zealand’.