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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.

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Thursday 31 December 2009

Eagle writers - Geoffrey Bond (1920 - 2009) aka Alan Jason

Geoffrey Bond, who died after a long illness on 27th December, 2009, is best known to Eagle readers as the writer for nearly ten years of the successful picture strip ‘Luck of the Legion’, but his career was far more adventurous than that might infer.

Geoffrey was born in Eltham (in what was the metropolitan borough of Woolwich), in 1920. His father was a bank manager who took an interest in show business and entertainment, and, as Geoffrey took an early interest in music, his father bought him a saxophone. At school he did well at both English and Art. After his father was transferred to Epsom, Surrey, Geoffrey attended the City of London Freeman’s School, Ashstead, where at the age of 15 he had an article, ‘The History of Tiger Rag’, published in the school magazine.

On leaving school at 17, Geoffrey found work in a band and for the next couple of years they toured the country, until the Second World War broke out. He joined the Army, but was invalided out and returned to being a musician with the Sandy Powell Roadshow. As well as playing with the band, he wrote and played in sketches.

In 1947 he went to South Africa where he worked with Alan Dell at the South African Broadcasting Corporation in Durban. He appeared in an Edgar Wallace play, The Ringer. Other acting parts followed, and in 1948 he was asked to take the lead role in a film called The Snake Skin Belt, which was filmed in Rhodesia and showed in UK as a serial at the Saturday morning children’s clubs.

Returning to England in 1949, Geoffrey joined the BBC Drama Repertory Company. He made appearances in radio dramas such as PC49 and Paul Temple. He also wrote radio plays, features and adaptations. His BBC writing credits include a nine month stint on Mrs Dale’s Diary. In 1950 he played the role of a Walsham Bay police sergeant in the Rank/Independent Artists’ film The Dark Man. In another film,The Lady with the Lamp he played an army sergeant.

In 1950 or 1951, his agent, Max Kester, told him the editors of Eagle were looking for ideas for a new strip. After much consideration, he came up with the idea for a French Foreign Legion story and its lead character Sergeant ‘Tough’ Luck. An artist friend produced a dummy of the first episode of ‘Luck of the Legion’. Eagle’s Editor, Marcus Morris, liked it but Geoffrey heard nothing for some time - the dummy was lost in a drawer at Hulton House. When it was rediscovered plans were made to bring ‘Luck of the Legion’ to Eagle’s centre pages for a trial period, which began in the issue dated 9th May, 1952, drawn by Martin Aitchison. The strip was a big success, and it was soon running second to 'Dan Dare' in a Hulton readers’ poll. Other stories soon followed, and the strip ran for nearly ten years: 16 stories comprising 482 weekly episodes. The strip also featured in Eagle Annual and briefly in 1952 as single-page stories in ABC Film Review, all scripted by Geoffrey and drawn by Martin. In 1953 Geoffrey wrote the Eagle Playlet ‘Salem Raschid’s Revenge’, which was offered to Eagle readers at 6d a copy in time for them to put on a play for Christmas. In 1954 he wrote a six-episode 'Luck of the Legion' story which went out as part of Hulton/Eagle’s Spread Your Wings programme on Radio Luxembourg , narrated by Norman Shelley.

Geoffrey suggested writing 'The Baden Powell Story', about the founder of the Boy Scout movement for Eagle’s back page. To avoid the same author’s name appearing twice per issue he wrote it under the pseudonym Alan Jason. It was drawn by Norman Williams. He also collaborated with Cyril Holloway on ‘For Bravery’. The same year, 1954, he played Spada, the evil Vultan leader in the Radio Luxembourg science fiction serial Dan Dare, sponsored by Horlicks and based on Eagle’s by then established front-page feature. After 'The Baden Powell Story', Geoffrey was asked to write the story of 'Lincoln of America', which appeared on Eagle’s back page in 1955, again under the pseudonym Alan Jason, and again drawn by Norman Williams.

Geoffrey wrote three 'Luck of the Legion' novels which were published by Hutchinson (illustrated by Cyril Holloway) and later, two further 'Luck of the Legion' novels for Hulton’s Eagle Novels series. The latter were illustrated by Martin Aitchison. Later, Max Parish published another: The Return of Sergeant Luck.

Beginning in 1957 Geoffrey wrote ‘Claudia of the Circus’, a strip that appeared on the centre pages of Eagle’s sister paper Girl, drawn by T. S. La Fontaine. Later, for the same magazine he collaborated with the artist C. L. Doughty on ‘The Untold Arabian Nights’. He also wrote a number of strips for Girl Annual, and a ‘Claudia of the Circus’ book in the Girl Novels series. For Swift, Eagle’s younger brother paper, he teamed again with Martin Aitchison for a comedy strip ‘Arty and Crafty’.

Geoffrey wrote numerous books for other publishers, including two on Baden Powell, published by Staples, a number of books on historical characters, including Ned Kelly, Geronimo, Kit Carson, Lawrence of Arabia, Evans of the Broke and Chaka the Terrible, all published by Arco, and The Ship’s Little Secret for Max Parish. His book on the Lancastria disaster was published by the Daily Express under their Oldbourne imprint and was serialised in John Bull, beginning in September, 1959, where it was illustrated by John Worsley. Another maritme disaster was Lakonia. He also wrote a novel, Arena, which was published by Macdonald.

In 1965 Geoffrey and his wife Stella emigrated to Rhodesia. He spent three years as a Provincial Information Officer and did some freelance broadcasting, before joining the Rhodesian Broadcasting Corporation full-time as a producer and announcer. For a year he wrote and often played in the first Rhodesian soap opera The Jacaranda People. After a brief stint in New Zealand with the New Zealand Broadcasting Corporation, where he had his own programme, Focus, he and Stella returned to to a politically troubled Rhodesia. He wrote a number of scripts for the Rhodesian Ministry of Education, which were sent out on tape to schools across the country, and for a while he joined the army as Public Relations Officer. While in Rhodesia he wrote two books relating to Rhodesian military history, and two series of religious educational books for Longmans.

In 1989 Geoffrey and Stella returned to England. In 1995, after reading an article in the Daily Telegraph about Eagle and the Eagle Society, Geoffrey wrote to Eagle Times. Consequently he was approached for an interview and was invited, along with Martin Aitchison, to the Eagle Society’s Annual Dinner at Sparsholt (1996).

In 1998, Geoffrey, teamed again with artist Martin Aitchison, created a new comic strip called 'Justin Tyme - ye Hapless Highwayman'. 'Justin Tyme' appeared in Eagle Times for over five years, scripted for 3 years by Geoffrey, and latterly by his son, Jim.

Eagle strips (writer)
  • Luck of the Legion (Vol 3 No 5 - Vol 12 No 37)
  • The Baden Powell Story (Vol 5 No 17 - Vol 5 No 45)
  • For Bravery (Vol 5 No 50)
  • Lincoln of America (Vol 6 No 24 - Vol 6 No 52)
Eagle Annual strips (writer)
  • Luck of the Legion Eagle Annual No 4 - No 11/1962
ET Refs
  • Harpole, Harold. 'Geoffrey Bond, Part 1 The Early Years' (Eagle Times Vol 9 No1 pp 2-5 & 11)
  • Harpole, Harold. 'Geoffrey Bond, Part 2 Luck of the Legion' (Eagle Times Vol 9 No 2 pp 16-19)
  • Harpole, Harold. 'Geoffrey Bond, Part 3 Salem Raschid’s Return - Eagle playlet' (Eagle Times Vol 9 No 3 pp 18-24)
  • Harpole, Harold. 'Geoffrey Bond, Part 4 Express Weekly, Girl and the Novels' (Eagle Times Vol 9 No 4 pp 30-34)
  • Harpole, Harold. 'Geoffrey Bond, Part 5 Rhodesia and Back' (Eagle Times Vol 10 No 1 pp8-12)
The picture shows Geoffrey Bond at the Eagle Times Dinner/Weekend at Sparsholt in 1996

1 comment:

Matthew J Edge said...

I have just picked up a book of the Baden Powell story by Geoffrey Bond. It seems to be a collection of that was serialised in the Eagle.

I don't know if the pictures in the book are the same as the Eagle as they are signed as Kenneth Brookes.

I'm glad to have stumbled upon this blog and have found this information very interesting.