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, 28 January 2021

DON HARLEY (1927 - 2021)

Sadly, Don Harley who was one of the great Dan Dare artists on the original EAGLE has died. Born in London, he attended Epsom College of Art and after hearing a talk by Frank Hampson about Dan Dare and EAGLE in 1951he applied to join his team. He became Hampson's principal assistant and remained with his studio until 1959, when it was disbanded. Then he assisted Frank Bellamy on the strip for a year, before taking it over himself with another former studio member, Bruce Cornwell. They produced the artwork for the strip until March 1962 and subsequently Don illustrated several Dan Dare strips for EAGLE Annuals. He also drew a 29 part Dan Dare strip for the Sunday People newspaper in 1964, called Mission to the Stars. Like many former EAGLE artists, he worked on TV Century 21 and other comics relating to Gerry Anderson's television series. He drew Thunderbirds, Captain Scarlet, Lady Penelope and a non-television strip The Investigator for TV21, Mark of the Mysterons for Solo comic and the subsequent Mysterons strip for the combined TV Tornado and Solo. In 1971 he drew Thunderbirds for Countdown comic. His later work included Sam for the young children's comic Twinkle and illustrations for information books from various publishers over many years. In 1979 he redrew many opening frames from the Dan Dare adventure  The Man From Nowhere for Dragon's Dream's album reprint of the story. When the 1980s EAGLE brought back the original Dan Dare, Don illustrated a colour strip for the 1991 Dan Dare Annual. He also drew much of Rod Barzilay's Dan Dare story The Phoenix Mission for Spaceship Away magazine, beginning in 2003. He attended several fan events in later life, sharing stories of his time in Frank Hampson's studio and drawing sketches for fans. I was fortunate to meet him on several occasions, including the EAGLE Society Gathering in Southport in 1988, which was the first time he visited EAGLE's birthplace. A most talented artist, he was a modest and unassuming man who will be greatly missed.

A full account of his professional work can be found in the tribute to Don on the Down the Tubes website. 

Steve Winders 

Don (right) with Rod Barzilay at a Dan Dare Exhibition in Bristol 

Saturday, 23 January 2021


Junior Boy’s Own is a record label launched in 1992, specialising in ‘acid house’ electronic dance music. It has released works by Underworld, Xpress2 and The Chemical Brothers. The above CD cover is for a compilation album, featuring music by all the above groups and P.L.C., The Ballistic Brothers, Sycamore and Dylan Rhymes among others. Of most interest to EAGLE Times readers is the cover of the album, which is clearly ‘heavily inspired’ by the Dan Dare strips The Man from Nowhere and Rogue Planet.  Released in 1997, the CD itself is red with an eagle like the one on its cover and there are pictures of a Crypt and a Phant inside the case. The back cover is also red. The cover reflects the name of the label and not the contents of the CD. As far as I am aware, this is the only album of theirs to adopt a comic themed cover. 


The artist was David Jukes, whose work has ranged from comics (including Roy of the Rovers and Disney Big Time), through newspapers (The Sunday Telegraph), magazines and books to CD and record covers for Sony Records, Arista Records and BMG Records as well as Junior Boy’s Own. He has produced a lot of cartoon art.  

The name Junior Boy’s Own has a complicated history. In 1987 a group of Chelsea supporters started a fanzine called Boy’s Own. They were also interested in acid house music and began to cover the scene in the magazine which quickly became the main chronicle for this music. Subsequently they began to organise their own acid house raves. In 1990 they formed Boy’s Own Recordings and in 1992 two of them, Terry Farley and Steven Hall formed Junior Recordings Ltd. which started to use the name Junior Boy’s Own. 


Wednesday, 23 December 2020

EAGLE TIMES Vol. 33 No.4

The Christmas EAGLE Times is out now. Featuring articles on Riders of the Range, Christmas in EAGLE, Frank Hampson and Norman Williams' Great Adventurer strip, the Pay Rates for the Christmas 1958 issue of EAGLE's companion paper Girl and the recent EAGLE Exhibition at the Atkinson Gallery in Southport, it runs to 54 pages.
The magazine is published four times a year and the subscription for 2021 will remain at £30 for the four issues (£45 for overseas subscribers). Published on March 31st, June 30th, September 30th and December 14th. They will be available from Bob Corn, Wellcroft Cottage, Wellcroft, Ivinghoe, Leighton Buzzard, Bedfordshire LU7 9EF.   


Sunday, 13 December 2020


 EAGLE and its creation DAN DARE launched in the City of London at Shoe Lane seventy years agoOn Wednesday January 6th from 2-3 p.m. Lester Hillman will explore the phenomenon of DAN DARE and how links to real and fictional astronauts have been at the very heart of the City and its institutions. The online talk will be available on Zoom, but viewers will need to book.

The best way to book is to visit the Guildhall Library events site at Guildhall Library Events | Eventbrite

Thursday, 10 December 2020


In 1987, Mel Smith and Kim Wilde, credited as 'Mel and Kim' as a parody of the popular sister act of that name, recorded a cover version of Brenda Lee's 1958 song Rockin' Around the Christmas Tree to raise money for Comic Relief  charities. It reached Number Three in the U.K. Christmas charts and was accompanied by a video that is still regularly shown on television at Christmas time. The video features a Christmas party which includes someone wearing a Mekon head (see above), but where does the head come from? Frank Hampson used many models in his studio back in the 1950s and a Treen mask was featured in a Pathe News film about the studio made in 1956 (see below). However this mask was clearly not the sculpted head used in the video and although Frank used papier-mache head models, such as one of Lero the Crypt from The Man From Nowhere strip, there was no full size Mekon head as far as we know. 
The Mekon head does not come from the launch of the 1980s EAGLE either. A ceramic sculpture by Pip Warwick was used there and the new EAGLE occasionally used a cardboard cutout of the Mekon for publicity photographs, so was the head created for the early 1980s Dan Dare TV series that was never made? A lot of groundwork was done for this series before it was cancelled. Storyboards and scripts were completed and the principal parts were cast, so it is quite possible that work had begun on props and costumes.   


Friday, 13 November 2020


A Report by Steve Winders

The above picture is a print taken from a painting of Custer's Last Stand at the Battle of the Little Bighorn by Riders of the Range artist Frank Humphris. The original painting hangs in the office of the Custer Battlefield Trading Post opposite the entrance to the battle site in Montana, where prints of the painting can be bought. I visited the Post in 2018 and was shown the original, but was unable to photograph it successfully, due to poor light in the room. Painted in 1976, a century after the battle, it may possibly be the same one included in Frank's Ladybird book Battle of the Little Bighorn (see below), also published in 1976 and  certainly developed from the same template. However there are several minor differences, such as the length of  the mounted chief's headdress on the left, the position of the 'Stars and Stripes' and the faces of some of the characters. 

Frank also illustrated a large frame of Custer’s last stand for the Riders of the Range adventure The War with the Sioux in 1957 - 58, but this featured many differences (see below). Members of the Seventh Cavalry were shown with yellow neckerchiefs, white hats and light blue trousers with a yellow seam stripe, as depicted in almost every film that featured the cavalry, but which Frank subsequently discovered were not authentic. He also showed Custer with his famous long hair, but later discovered that he had it cut shortly before the campaign! Consequently his painting and his Ladybird illustrations show him with short hair. Frank coloured the EAGLE strip with inks, which explains the bolder colours.  

The War with the Sioux was reprinted in a heavily edited version in Wham! Annual for 1972, but to fit the reconstructed page, Frank's scene of the final battle was replaced by one drawn by Frank Hampson for the front page of Swift from 1961. (See below.)

Frank wrote and illustrated the Ladybird book, which was stocked for many years at the Custer Battlefield Museum, about five miles away from the battle site, where many artefacts from the battle are on display and the book was a best seller in their shop. 
In 1954, three and a half years before The War with the Sioux appeared in EAGLE, Juvenile Publications produced a full colour Riders of the Range strip album called Jeff Arnold in the Bozeman Trail, written by the strip's creator and regular writer, Charles Chilton, which told a quite different story of Jeff Arnold and Luke's involvement in the events and the battle. This book was illustrated by Pat Williams. 
For readers interested in Riders of the Range and the strip's coverage of events in the wars with Native Americans, EAGLE Times is currently running a long series by David Britton which compares the stories with the historical events.

Sunday, 8 November 2020



A tribute by Steve Winders

Congratulations to Rupert Bear who celebrates his hundredth birthday this month. Created six years before Winnie the Pooh, nine years before Tintin, twelve years before Biggles, thirty years before Dan Dare and thirty eight years before Paddington Bear, Rupert was created by Mary Tourtel, who wrote and illustrated his adventures for the Daily Express for fifteen years, before ill health forced her to hand over to Alfred Bestall, who illustrated new stories until  1974. Other artists included Alex Cubie and John Harrold and writers included James Henderson and Ian Robinson. Currently new stories are written and illustrated by Stuart Trotter, although sadly, Rupert now only features in one new story each year, which is included in the Annual alongside repeats of past adventures. The daily strips are also repeats, drawn from the vast library of old stories. Over the years there have been three separate TV series featuring Rupert as well as a song called Rupert and the Frog Chorus by Paul McCartney, with its own animated video. The present Chairman of the Followers of Rupert, John Swan, is also a member of the EAGLE Society. A more surprising link concerns a story called Rupert and the Spaceship, produced in 1954 for a series of small paperback books called the Rupert Adventure Series, in which Rupert flies into space in a ship which bears a strong resemblance to the Kingfisher ship from the first Dan Dare story and several other ships from the strip. Rupert meets a group of friendly aliens who resemble elves and they are led by a character called Meeko!