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, 16 March 2010

Eagle Times Vol 23 No 1

Spring 2010 Contents
  • An examination of the career of Sergeant Bruce, whose single-episode exploits ran for nearly four years in the 1960s Eagle, firstly as 'Sergeant Bruce, C.I.D.' and then in 'Can You Catch a Crook?'
  • A tribute to Geoffrey Bond (1920-2009), best known as the writer of 'Luck of the Legion' in Eagle; also a friend of the Eagle Society, who wrote the 'Justin Tyme' strip for Eagle Times
  • Complaints from the Dustman? - reminiscences of some of Ron Embleton's "discarded" artwork
  • A look at the life and career of Paul Trevillion, better known for his sports illustrations and his work on 'Roy of the Rovers' for Tiger, who drew some of the 'Can You Catch a Crook?' and 'U.F.O. Agent' strips in Eagle in the 1960s
  • The Tales of a Southport Lad - reviewing Peter Dyer's book When I Went a' Walking
  • Fond recollections of the Space Patrol Official Handbook that was the invention of Denis Gifford in 1952
  • A revisit to the Eagle connections with Ladybird Books, including some examples of the work of Roy Worvill (writer) and covers by the artists Robert Ayton, Frank Hampson, Frank Humphris and Martin Aitchison
  • A Frank Humphris 'Ladybird' Rough, showing the sketch which led to one of the full-page illustrations in the Ladybird book The story of the Indians of the Western Plains
  • The Case of the Shocking Shadow - taking a look at Alan Stranks' PC49 stage play from 1950
  • A look at 'Jim Stalwart', Bruce Cornwell's "forgotten" Space Captain, whose exploits graced the pages of the Junior Mirror in 1954
  • 'Rivals of Jeff Arnold' examines the history and the myth of Billy the Kid
  • Same Again Next Week? A review of the issue of The Champion that was published the week before Eagle's debut in 1950
  • Pop Music in Eagle Times - 1968
The cover of this issue of Eagle Times commemorates the birth of Eagle 60 years ago on 14th April, 1950.

Tuesday, 9 March 2010

Classic Bible Stories

The first of an intended series of books reprinting Classic Bible Stories from Eagle has been published by Titan Books. The first volume collects two stories: 'The Road of Courage', the story of Jesus of Nazareth, written by the Revd. Marcus Morris and illustrated by Frank Hampson, and 'Mark the Youngest Disciple', written by the Revd. Chad Varah and illustrated by Giorgio Bellavitis. 'The Road of Courage' which appeared in Eagle in 1961, was Hampson's last work for Eagle and shows him, arguably at his best, and certainly at his most consistent. 'Mark the Youngest Disciple' appeared in 1954, and has been described as Giorgio Bellavitis' finest work for Eagle.

Although The Road of Courage was previously published as a hardback book by Dragon's Dream in 1981, none of the other Eagle bible stories has previously been seen in book form. A future volume of Classic Bible Stories is expected to collect 'The Shepherd King', the story of David, by Clifford Makins and Frank Bellamy, and 'The Great Adventurer', the story of Saul/Paul of Tarsus, by Chad Varah, Frank Hampson (and team) and Norman Williams.

The format of Classic Bible Stories is very similar to Titan's Dan Dare reprint series; ie, 9" x 12" red covered hardback with dustjacket. As with the Dan Dare series, all the strips in Classic Bible Stories are reprinted from scans of Eagle pages. It is well known that most of the original artboards for strips that appeared in Eagle have been lost, destroyed or dispersed to various collectors, so that most Eagle reprint series cannot be from original artwork. However, Dragon's Dream's 1981 offering of The Road of Courage was almost entirely (ie, with the exception of the third page) from the original artboards of that story, and comparison of the two versions is inevitable.

Whether the artboards were not available to the current publishers, or it was an editorial decision not to use them to achieve consistency of quality with the other stories in the series, or for some other reason, this reviewer does not know. Although a close side-by-side comparison with the Dragon's Dream version shows some increase in image contrast and loss of detail due to line thickening in the Titan Books version, the quality of reproduction is as good as the best of their Dan Dare reprint series, ie excellent. An advantage of reproducing the strip from scans of the published comic strip (combined with some careful restoration) is that the result is a close facsimile to the original published edition. A detraction of the Dragon's Dream issue was that new captions had to be created because they were not present on the original boards. Unfortunately, the captions were produced in an unsympathetic type-face, the size of which often was too small for the boxes in which the captions were placed.

Readers of Titan's Dan Dare reprint series might be surprised that, apart from the two stories, the title and credit pages and some brief information provided on the dustjacket, this volume has no further editorial content. It would seem this book has undergone a few changes along the way, meaning that some of the information on the book (eg at Amazon.co.uk and Amazon.com), indicating feature content, is inaccurate. It would have been nice to have seen the article by Frank Hampson that was published in Eagle when 'The Road of Courage' was first published, describing his trip to the Holy Land and the research that went into the strip.

Although pre-publication pictures emphasise the Eagle legacy by use of the Eagle emblem and the name of Frank Hampson on the cover (with no mention of the other contributors!), neither of these elements are present on the front of the published dustjacket (though Frank Hampson is credited on the book's spine), nor does the Eagle emblem appear anywhere in the book. Presumably the book is aimed at a wider audience than "just" Eagle (or comics) enthusiasts.

Inside full credits are given to the creators of the strips including, on the dustjacket front flap, mention of Frank Hampson's assistant, Joan Porter. The rear dustjacket provides some extremely short biographical information on Marcus Morris, Frank Hampson, Chad Varah and Giorgio Bellavitis.

Classic Bible Stories [ISBN 9781848565258] is published by Titan Books at £14.99.
At the time of posting it was available from Amazon.co.uk at £10.74

Monday, 1 March 2010

The Eagle Society Gathering and Annual Dinner, 2010

SOUTHPORT (Merseyside)

13th - 15th April 2010

The Eagle Society will be meeting to commemorate the 60th anniversary of the birth of Eagle - the National Strip Cartoon Weekly. The event will follow the format of previous gatherings, the all-inclusive package this time comprising two nights in Southport at the Duke's Folly Hotel (of which we have exclusive use), all meals including the Society's Annual Dinner, and a mix of presentations, talks and visits of interest to Eagle Society members. A break with tradition is that the event will be held mid-week so that we can celebrate on the exact anniversary.
  • Tuesday 13th April - Arrive at the Duke's Folly Hotel (from 3pm), with afternoon tea and biscuits as you settle in. After a 3-course Dinner, gather "round the campfire" with Cowboy Singer Jim Ryder, who will sing all those songs associated with 'Riders of the Range' and the Old West. Also, relive memories of previous Eagle Society gatherings with an audio visual presentation by Paul Napp.
  • Wednesday 14th April - Eagle's Birthday! Partake of a full English Breakfast before joining the Eagle Trail led by Peter Dyer and visiting in a private coach the places associated with Marcus Morris, Frank Hampson and the birth of Eagle. Lunch at the Botanic Gardens Banqueting Suite. During the afternoon, a special visit will be made to the Southport Model Railway Club, followed by Compline at St. James, Birkdale, led by Rev. Ian Mainey. In the evening enjoy the Eagle Society's Annual Dinner with the popular After Dinner Speech by Steve Winders, meet the author of When I went A'walking (with a chapter on the Eagle Trail), and be further entertained by our guests, including former members of the St. James Youth Club with their "Recollections of Marcus Morris", Southport Moviemakers and a presentation of Southport, the 1958 promotional film produced by the St. James Film Society.
  • Thursday 15th April - After another full English Breakfast hear, about Portuguese Eagles from John Swan, and Eagle Economics from Cliff Maddock. Discuss the future of Eagle Times and the Eagle Society. After lunch make a leisurely departure for home.
For Members of the Eagle Society, the inclusive cost for the weekend is £135 sterling per person.

Please note that this event is fully booked through its prior advertisement to readers of the Society's magazine Eagle Times. In the event of cancellations places may become available. If you would like to be added to a stand-by list please contact Nigel McMurray by e-mail.