WELCOME

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.

Tuesday, 6 August 2019

EAGLE TIMES Vol. 32 No. 2 SUMMER 2019

The latest EAGLE TIMES is now available. Running to 48 pages, it features a wide range of articles:
*Charles Chilton and the Indian Wars (part five) by David Britton. 
*The Dan Dare studios Ideas Book
*Pogo Possum: The Early Years. Eric Fernie examines the American newspaper strip.
*The Travels of Marco Polo (part two) by Steve Winders
*The Case of the Counterfeit Constable (part two). Continuing Steve Winders' latest Archie Willoughby adventure.
*Come Fly With Me: Steve Winders' talk to the EAGLE Society Gathering at Dundee in April.
*In and Out of the EAGLE by Jim Duckett. Looking at EAGLE reprints in books.
*Chris Abbott Remembered: Memories of a much missed former member of our editorial team who died in March.
*Report on the EAGLE Society Gathering by Reg Hoare.

Monday, 24 June 2019

IN AND OUT OF THE EAGLE 17



Sadly the well known character actor William Simons, who played P.C. Alf Ventress in the long running TV series Heartbeat died last week. As a boy William had two unusual links with the 1950s EAGLE. He was the subject of the article Schoolboy in the African Bush in Eagle Vol.2 No.39 (dated 4th January 1952) when as an eleven year old he featured in the film Where No Vultures Fly. The article describes his experiences of filming on location for four months in Kenya. His other link with EAGLE was that he played Alfie Cutforth in the B.B.C. TV adaptation of Anthony Buckeridge's Rex Milligan stories, which had been specially created for EAGLE. 
Where No Vultures Fly was the second most successful film at the box office in Britain in 1952 and led to a sequel West of Zanzibar, released in 1954 in which William also featured. Both films starred Anthony Steel as a Game Warden who sets up a Wildlife Reserve in Kenya and both feature villainous ivory poachers. 

Thursday, 23 May 2019

IN AND OUT OF THE EAGLE 16

 Douglas Adams, the creator of the popular radio series The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, which was later televised, novelised and filmed, had his first work published at the age of twelve, on the letters page in EAGLE! His letter appeared in Volume 16 no. 4, dated 23rd January 1965. Douglas wrote:

"The sweat was dripping down my face and into my lap, making my clothes very wet and sticky. I sat there, waiting, watching. I was trembling violently as I sat, looking at the small slot, waiting - ever waiting. My nails dug into my flesh as I clenched my hands. I passed my arm over my hot, wet face, down which sweat was pouring. The suspense was unbearable. I bit my lip in an attempt to stop trembling with the terrible burden of anxiety. Suddenly, the slot opened and in dropped the mail. I grabbed at my EAGLE and ripped off the wrapping paper. My ordeal was over for another week!"

Another reader later to become famous, whose first published work appeared in EAGLE, was the cartoonist Gerald Scarfe. His drawing of EAGLE characters in the wrong clothes appeared in Volume 3 no.31, dated 7th November 1952, when he was sixteen. Entitled 'EAGLE Artist's Nightmare', his picture surely inspired Frank Hampson's strip 'The Editor's Christmas Nightmare', which appeared in the Christmas issue in 1954. Gerald also won a competition to design an advertisement for Ingersoll Dan Dare watches, which appeared in Volume 3 no. 37, dated 19th December 1952. Listed among the runners up in the same competition was David Hockney of Bradford, who went on to become one of Britain's foremost painters!

Tuesday, 14 May 2019

IN AND OUT OF THE EAGLE 15


Herge's famous 'boy reporter' Tintin first appeared in English in EAGLE in a translation of his adventure King Ottokar's Sceptre, printed on the lower half of the middle page spread below the Cutaway Drawings, beginning in the issue dated 7th March 1951 and ending in the issue dated 2nd May 1952 - a total of forty episodes. This story tells of Tintin's efforts to save the throne of the fictional Balkan kingdom of Syldavia for its rightful King and was inspired by Anthony Hope's novel The Prisoner of Zenda. The unknown translator, who was engaged by Tintin's Belgian and French publisher Casterman, retained the original names of all the characters except for the incompetent detectives Dupond and Dupont, who they renamed Thompson and Thomson. Hence Tintin's dog is called Milou in the EAGLE version, not Snowy. When Leslie Lonsdale-Cooper and Michael Turner translated Tintin's adventures for book publication by Methuen commencing from 1958, they kept the Thompson names and anglicised many others.

EAGLE's version describes Tintin as a French boy, despite his Belgian origins and was an edited version of the revised colour album of the story produced by Herge, assisted by Edgar P. Jacobs in 1947. The story had originally been produced as a serial for the children's supplement of the newspaper Le Vingtieme Siecle between 1937 and 1938 and then released in album form in 1939. Its plot contains a strong topical element from that period, because Syldavia is threatened by its Faschist neighbour Borduria, echoing the threat posed to smaller countries by Nazi Germany and Mussolini's Italy. The 1947 album ran to sixty two pages of strip, compared to EAGLE's forty spreads, but EAGLE fitted more frames in each episode, often as many as four or five, so there was little removed from the original. Three of the album's pages were presented as a brochure describing the Geography and History of Syldavia. In EAGLE these were omitted and the key elements summarised in two text boxes, each containing an illustration taken from the brochure. Several humorous incidents involving the Thompsons or Milou (Snowy) were edited out of the EAGLE version, notably a vignette where Milou steals a large dinosaur bone from a museum and some single frames, including the four large half page pictures from the album were also left out.

In EAGLE the strip was titled The Adventures of Tintin and not King Ottokar's Sceptre and although Tintin's name was written as one word in the title, he is referred to as Tin Tin in the text boxes and speech bubbles. The speech bubbles themselves were written in a neat style using upper and lower case letters quite similar to that used in the French and later English albums, whereas the other strips in EAGLE  were all written in upper case letters.

The strip was not a great success in EAGLE and no further adventures were serialised. In my opinion there were several reasons for this. The 'ligne claire' style of artwork used by Herge more closely resembled styles used in overtly humorous cartoon strips in Britain than the more realistic style of British adventure strips. The style seemed to call for broad comedy whereas Tintin's adventures combine their humour with strong storylines. While EAGLE's adventure strips often contained a little humour and their comedy strips sometimes contained perilous situations, as in Harris Tweed, there was a clear distinction between adventure and comedy stories. EAGLE readers struggled to relate to this unfamiliar territory and this was not helped by Tintin's anachronistic image. A familiar icon in Belgium and France for more than two decades, Tintin's trademark plus fours and raised quiff only added to the unusual nature of the character and the strip for EAGLE readers in 1951. Also, the pace of the story was slightly slower than other strips in EAGLE at the time, with longer scenes in some locations. The Adventures of Tintin did not suit EAGLE's style. Finally the rather cold translation lacked the fun provided by the later ones where Lonsdale-Cooper and Turner replaced wit that could not be translated with wit of their own.


Thankfully Tintin did break into the British market when Methuen began to publish the books and they were able to find their own market. Every Tintin book has been translated into English and we have seen Tintin films, TV series, a B.B.C. radio series and three English language plays, most  notably a musical version of Tintin in Tibet by the National Youth Theatre in 2005. The bookshop chain Ottakar's, founded in 1987 but absorbed by Waterstone's Bookshops in 2006, took its name from King Ottokar, despite the different spelling and many branches displayed Tintin murals on their walls. Tintin's adventures have been translated into almost every language on Earth, including Cornish, Welsh, Gaelic and Catalan. In his native Belgium, Herge is celebrated in a purpose built museum dedicated to his work. Scenes and characters from the Tintin adventures are displayed on several murals in Brussels and Tintin is even featured on a Brussels Airlines plane which has been painted to look like the 'Shark' submarine from his Red Rackham's Treasure story.


(This article is derived from several of my 'In and Out of the Eagle' posts in 'Eagle Times'  with some additional factual information taken from Eric Fernie's article about 'King Ottokar's Sceptre' in Eagle from the 2016 Spring Issue of 'Eagle Times'. The opinions expressed in this article are mine - Jim Duckett.) 

Thursday, 9 May 2019

IN AND OUT OF THE EAGLE 14

The very first Dan Dare story had no individual title, but when Titan Books reprinted it in 2004 they called it Voyage to Venus. In 2008 Orion Publishing produced an audio dramatisation of the first half of the story and gave it this title and then in 2012, Michael Shipway’s electronic music album inspired by the story took the title too. By 2016, when B7 Audio Productions dramatised several Dan Dare adventures, Voyage to Venus was the automatic title for the first adventure. Although it took fifty four years for this title to formally appear, it seems an appropriate one. Frank Hampson, like many of Eagle’s other contributors, favoured alliterative titles, giving us Marooned on Mercury, Reign of the Robots and Safari in Space, not to mention Dan Dare himself. Voyage to Venus was previously used as the title of the second book of C.S. Lewis’ space trilogy about Earth, Mars and Venus. As in Dan Dare this title was added later. First published in 1943, Lewis’ book was originally called Perelandra, which was the story’s name for the planet, but it was altered to Voyage to Venus when published in paperback in 1953. C.S. Lewis was one of several notable theologians who contributed articles for Marcus Morris’ Anvil magazine in the late 1940s and not surprisingly his book has strong religious connotations. The plot concerns the hero from Earth trying to prevent the fall of man (as described in the Book of Genesis) from being repeated on Venus. Lewis went on to write the famous Narnia series of children’s books, beginning with The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe in 1950.

The original Voyage to Venus was Achille Eyraud’s 1865 book, published the same year as Jules Verne’s From the Earth to the Moon. Eyraud’s book is the first to describe rocket powered interplanetary travel. However, despite its prophetic importance, it has only been available in an English edition since 2011.  

Sunday, 14 April 2019

EAGLE SOCIETY GATHERING - DUNDEE - 9th - 11th APRIL 2019



This year's annual gathering was held at the Doubletree by Hilton Hotel in Dundee. Twenty six members attended the successful event which was organised by Eric Summers, ably assisted by Jeremy Briggs. Guests included Chris Murray, Professor of Comics at the University of Dundee, Calum Laird, the former editor of Commando magazine and Ian Kennedy, the celebrated Dan Dare artist on the new EAGLE. Members visited Captain Scott's Antarctic Survey Ship Discovery and other landmarks in the city, such as the new Victoria and Albert Museum, the McManus Gallery and the various statues of comic characters around the city. We are grateful for the generosity of the publishers D.C. Thomson and Co. who provided items for the Welcome Packs. A full report by Reg Hoare will appear in the next EAGLE TIMES. The picture above shows Jeremy Briggs interviewing Calum Laird and the picture below shows Ian Kennedy with interviewer Phillip Vaughan.

Friday, 5 April 2019

EAGLE TIMES: Spring 2019

The first edition of EAGLE TIMES for 2019 is out now. Featuring articles on T.E. Lawrence, Marco Polo, Cutaway Drawings from the 1990s EAGLE, Look-In Magazine and the Battle of the Little Bighorn, it is a varied and interesting issue.
CONTENTS
Was Dan Dare Instrumental in Russia's Contribution to the Space Race? by Chris Stock
Lawrence of Arabia - The Backpager That Never Was by Andrew Coffey
A Look at Look-In by Jim Duckett
The Travels of Marco Polo (Part One) by Steve Winders
New Eagle's Cutaways - The Centrespreads by Jeremy Briggs
Drawing the Centrespreads - An interview with artist Peter Sarson by Jeremy Briggs
Dan Dare - Acting His Age - a short piece about actors mooted to play Dan on TV
Charles Chilton and the Indian Wars (Part Four) by David Britton
The Case of the Counterfeit Constable - A new Archie Willoughby adventure by Steve Winders