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.

Monday, 12 December 2011

Eagle Times Vol 24 No 4

Winter 2011 Contents
  • From Under the 1950s Christmas Tree, Pepys Card Games - a seasonal look at the numerous Pepys games, which included some based around characters from Eagle ('Dan Dare' and 'Jeff Arnold') and Girl
  • The Case of Christmas Presents - PC49 appears in a seasonal short-story
  • A Look at 'Luck' - part 2 of a continuing series examining the French Foreign Legion strip by Geoffrey Bond and Martin Aitchison, that ran in Eagle from 1952 - 1961
  • Working with David Hunt, part 2 - memories of working on 'Dan Dare' projects for the "New" Eagle editor in the 1980s
  • Rivals of Eagle, takes a look at The Boy's Own Paper, the long-running boys' story paper, which lasted 88 years - from 1879 - 1967
  • The first part of a series on Visual Memories of Eaglecon 80 - the only London comics convention ever held solely for Eagle enthusiasts
  • PC49 and the Case of the Frightened Flower Girl - the conclusion of a new adaptation of one of Alan Stranks' radio plays
  • Rivals of Jeff Arnold - the 9th in the series takes a look at 'Happy Daze', a comedy western strip drawn by Bill Holroyd for D.C. Thomson's Topper comic
  • 'Dan Dare' Figures (from the 1950s to the present day) - begins by taking a look at those produced in the 1950s by the Crescent Toy Company and Eaglewall Plastics/Kentoys 
  • Ron by Ron - a lighthearted look at some of Ron Embleton's appearances in some of his own artwork 
  • L. Ashwell Wood, Cutaway Maestro - an addendum to the article in Eagle Times Vol 24 No 3, covering the Inside Information series, Odhams Books and the reprinting of Eagle cutaways in foreign publications 
  • Eagle Annuals 1971-1975 looks at the annuals that continued to appear after the original Eagle's demise as a comic
  • 'Sammy' in colour - a strip from Eagle's companion paper, Swift, which was translated and reprinted in colour in the Dutch paper Arend - shown for the first time in English and colour
  • A short biographical piece on David Motton, the 'Dan Dare' writer of the 1960s, who  recently retired
  • A report and photographs from the Eagle Society Annual Gathering at Midgham, Berkshire, 6th - 8th September, 2011

Wednesday, 7 December 2011

Spaceship Away - Part 25

It's been a while since we featured Spaceship Away on this blog, but the recent arrival of Part 25 on my doormat prompted me so to do. Spaceship Away is a three times a year, full colour, 40-page A4 glossy magazine that publishes new "old-style" 'Dan Dare' strip stories  and articles along with other science fiction strips. With three issues a year, Part 25 marks the beginning of Spaceship Away's 9th year of publication, albeit the Autumn issue and therefore the last of 2011. 

The issue sports a Christmas-themed cover by veteran 'Dan Dare' artist Don Harley, with Dan, Digby (laden with Christmas presents) and Stripey arriving back at a snowy Spacefleet HQ as a group of Spacefleet carollers sing in the background. The cover picture heralds, inside, a two-page 'Dan Dare' Christmas story, 'Missiles and Mistletoe', written by Sydney Jordan and drawn by Don Harley, and which opens with an almost identical scene to the cover. Further on the 'Dan Dare' strip content continues with the sixth episode of 'Parsecular Tales' (written and drawn by Tim Booth) and 'Dan and Digby's Happy Landing'; a two-pager by Don Harley.

Other content includes the articles 'Desmond Walduck: "A Worthy Earthman"' by Alan Vince and 'Spacefleet Headquarters' by Charles Evans-Gunther. There is a new piece of artwork by Don Harley, featuring Dan Dare and the four Spacefleet cadets from 'Prisoners of Space', and the centrespread, by Ian Kennedy, features the Mekon and three varieties of Dan Dare that Kennedy drew for the "new" Eagle in the 1980s. Oh, and there's a board game: 'Dan Dare's Race in Space' - provide your own dice and counters. The back cover features a new painting by Bruce Cornwell of the Anastasia space-plane flying over Spacefleet HQ.

Plenty, then, for the Dan Dare fan, and the non-'Dan Dare' strip content includes the second episode of 'Finality Factor', which is a 'Garth' story by Jim Edgar and Martin Asbury, originally drawn by Fank Bellamy, and (now) coloured by Tim Booth; and episode 4 of 'Shadow Over Britain', the 'Journey into Space' story written by Charles Chilton and drawn by Ferdinando Tacconi and Bruce Cornwell, that first appeared in Express Weekly in 1957.

Spaceship Away is available from some specialist outlets (comic shops) but for further details, including how to subscribe, please go to the Spaceship Away website.

Tuesday, 11 October 2011

John Ryan Retrospective

John Ryan in 1993
A retrospective exhibition showing about 50 works of the late John Ryan will open at the Stormont Studio, Rye Art Gallery, Rye, East Sussex at 2 pm on 19th November, 2011. The exhibition is planned to run until 12th February, 2012 and celebrates John's life and work through his art. If planning a visit, however, please check the Gallery Opening Hours (see below) as it is not open very day and closes for lunch.

John Ryan is unforgettable to Eagle readers as the creator of 'Captain Pugwash' (which first appeared as a comic strip in Eagle in 1950) and the longer running strip cartoon series 'Harris Tweed', which ran for twelve years.

During his long career, he created many characters and produced a large body of work including numerous books and artworks. 'Captain Pugwash' he turned into a very successful series of illustrated books and an animated series on BBC television. A cartoon strip of 'Captain Pugwash' ran in Radio Times for eight years. He created 'Lettice Leefe' for Eagle's companion paper Girl, and 'Sir Boldasbrass' for Swift. He also devised 'The Adventures of Sir Prancelot' and 'Mary, Mungo and Midge'.

More information on the exhibition is available on the Rye Art Gallery website.
More biographical information on John Ryan can be read in his Eagle Times obituary.

Gallery Opening Hours:
Monday to Wed inclusive - Closed.
Thurs 10:30-13:30 and 14:00-17:00
Fri 10:30-13:00 and 14:00-17:00
Sat 10:30-13:00 and 14:00-17:00
Sun 12:00-16:00
Thanks to the curator, John's daughter, Isabel, for letting us know about the exhibition.

The picture of John Ryan was taken during the Eagle Society's visit to Rye in 1993. 

Friday, 30 September 2011

Eagle Times Vol 24 No 3

Autumn 2011 Contents

  • A Look at Luck - the first in a series examining 'Luck of the Legion', the French Foreign Legion strip written by Geoffrey Bond and drawn by Martin Aitchison, that ran in Eagle from 1952 - 1961 
  • The XCH-4 Hydrofoil - the real-life flying machine that inspired Frank Hampson's futuristic designs for the Turmoil and the Poseidon, which appeared in the 'Dan Dare' strip, 'The Man From Nowhere' 
  • Wulf the Briton conquers them all - a close look at the Palace Books' reproduction of the 1950s strip from Express Weekly, drawn (or, rather, painted) by Ron Embleton 
  • PC49 and the Case of the Frightened Flower Girl - the beginning of a new adaptation from one of Alan Stranks' radio plays 
  • Eagle Times Window, taking a look at The Dan Dare Space Journal, Orion Books' latest Eagle-inspired publication
  • L. Ashwell Wood - Cutaway Maestro, taking a look at the life and career of Eagle's most prolific Cutaway artist
  • Journey into Space with Auntie's Charlie - a report on the combined Book Launch for Charles Chilton's autobiography and the first of his Journey into Space novels.
  • Working with David Hunt, memories of working on 'Dan Dare' projects for the "new" Eagle editor in the early 1980s 
  • Rivals of Jeff Arnold - Kit Carson part 8 of an ongoing series looking at the real and fictional Wild Western characters that appeared in British comics in the 1950s
  • The David Pugh 'Dan Dare', part three: continuing an examination of the 'Dan Dare' stories drawn by one of the artists who took on the resurrected "original" Dan Dare in "new" Eagle 1989-1994
  • Spotted in the Press - "Now I'll Never be Dan Dare": on the the demise of the Space Shuttle
  • Remembering 'Reign of the Robots' - a re-look at Dan Dare's adventure on a Mekon-subjugated Earth, after the return from Cryptos
  • Eagle's Wanderers: an examination of two fictional football strips that appeared in Eagle. Part 2 The Circus Wanderers

Thursday, 28 July 2011

Charles Chilton's Autobiography

Charles Chilton, MBE:
Journey into Space
Riders of the Range
Oh, What a Lovely War!
The eagerly anticipated autobiography of Charles Chilton, MBE, is to be published soon by the media company Fantom Films. 

Titled Auntie's Charlie (which is an appropriate title considering its author's 46-year career with "Auntie", as the BBC is affectionately known in some quarters) the book will be published coincidentally (though not by chance!) with a new reprint edition of Journey into Space: Operation Luna. The latter is Charles Chilton's own novelisation of the first of his famous British 1950s science fiction radio serials, which has been out of print for 40 years.

Although most famous as the creator/writer/producer of Journey into Space (which he also wrote as a comic strip for Eagle's rival publication, Express Weekly, Charles is also remembered by Eagle's readers as the author of the western strip 'Jeff Arnold and the Riders of the Range', which he wrote weekly for Eagle for more than twelve years - see our earlier post on Eagle writer Charles Chilton. Another of Charles' accomplishments was his research and writing contribution to the musical Oh, What a Lovely War!, a critique of the First World War, which was famously first staged and produced by Joan Littlewood's Theatre Workshop in 1963. 

Auntie's Charlie (ISBN: 978-1-906263-72-0) is to be published in August 2011 in a hard-back Limited Collectors' Edition of 200 copies, priced at £24.99 (UK) or £27.99 (abroad). Details are available at the Fantom Films website. Those pre-ordering before 15th August will receive an invitation to the Charles Chilton Book Launch where their copy can be personally signed by the author.

Journey into Space: Operation Luna (ISBN: 978-1-906263-73-7) is also to be published August. The second and third Journey into Space novels, The Red Planet (ISBN: 978-1-906263-74-4) and The World in Peril (ISBN: 978-1-906263-75-1), are due to follow in November 2011 and February 2012, respectively. All three books will be published in hard-back Limited Collectors' Editions of 200 copies each, and priced at £12.99 each (UK) or £14.99 (abroad). Again, details are available at the Fantom Films website. Those pre-ordering Journey into Space: Operation Luna before 15th August will receive an invitation to the Charles Chilton Book Launch where their copy can be personally signed by the author. 

Alternatively, a subscription can be taken out for all three Journey into Space books at £34.99 (UK) or £39.99 (abroad). Subscribers to the Journey into Space books will receive a limited edition postcard signed by Charles and a pin-badge, as well as an invitation to the Book Launch.

The Charles Chilton Book Launch will be held from 4pm - 6pm on 20th August 2011 at the George IV Public House & Comedy Club, Chiswick (London).

Wednesday, 29 June 2011

Eagle Times Vol 24 No 2

Summer 2011 Contents
  • Frank and the Newspaper Cuttings: a look at the use by Frank Hampson, throughout his career, of images of newspapers and newspaper cuttings, as a powerful visual aid to storytelling
  • 'Daan Durf - Piloot van de Toekomst': on the 1980s Dutch reprint editions of the 'Dan Dare' adventures: De Mans Van Nergens (The Man From Nowhere) and De Woeste Planeet (Rogue Planet)
  • Keith Watson - Drawing from Life: the use of live and photographed figures to achieve realism of the clothed human form
  • Frank Bellamy's Pictorial Journalism: a look at some of Bellamy's illustrative work for newspapers, magazines and posters
  • Dan Goes Back to College: a report on the unveiling of the bronze bust of Dan Dare at the Southport College of Art, following its recent restoration
  • Rivals of Jeff Arnold - Buffalo Bill: part 7 of an ongoing series looking at the real and fictional Wild Western characters that appeared in British comics in the 1950s
  • Eagle's Wanderers: an examination of two fictional football strips that appeared in Eagle. Part 1: 'Home of the Wanderers'
  • Kemlo - the 'Spaceworld' books of E.C. Eliott: the life and work of Robert Martin, a prolific children's writer of the 1950s-1960s (who wrote the 'Joey' series under his own name, the 'Kemlo' and 'Tas' series as E.C. Elliott and the 'Pocomoto' western series as Rex Dixon), taking a close look at three of the 'Kemlo' series
  • PC49 in the Case of the Crying Clown - part 2: concluding another adaptation of one of Alan Strank's famous BBC radio police adventures
  • The David Pugh 'Dan Dare', part two: continuing an examination of the 'Dan Dare' stories drawn by one of the artists who took on the resurrected "original" Dan Dare in "new" Eagle 1989-1994
  • Sammy, Swift's Space Fleet Cadet: Stripography - part 2, concluding the summary of the Space Fleet stories that appeared in Eagle's companion Paper
  • 'The Final Frontier': an extract from Arnie Wilson's Big Name Hunting, in which he relates an interview with Apollo 11 astronaut Buzz Aldrin

Monday, 11 April 2011

Andrew Skilleter

This post comes as a result of a request from its subject! The illustrator Andrew Skilleter has asked if we would be willing to post something relating to his new website, www.andrewskilleter.com, on the basis of his involvement in Dan Dare over the years. Consider this a "Yes", Andrew!

Although better known for his work illustrating (among other things!) 'Doctor Who', Andrew was, in the lifetime of Eagle (that is, in the mid-1960s) one of the founders of the original Dan Dare Club, which through several metamorphoses led to today's Eagle Society. In 1985 he published the first edition of Alastair Crompton's story of the then recently deceased 'Dan Dare'-creator, Frank Hampson: The Man Who Drew Tomorrow. He also published a book of ex-Eagle artist Frank Bellamy's Radio Times 'Doctor Who' illustrations, called Timeview. Appropriately Andrew called his publishing venture Who-Dares Publishing!  More recently, his Homage painting depicting Frank Hampson and some of the 'Dan Dare' characters was included as a frontispiece to Alastair Crompton's Tomorrow Revisited (published by PS Publishing). Since late March this year, Andrew has a Facebook Fan Page.

Andrew says the site has "multi-genre galleries and the SciFi one includes a couple of Dan Dare related pieces". One is the homage painting that I have linked to above. Another, a commission for Spaceship Away magazine  can be seen via This Link. I'll leave another, a private commission, for you to find on Andrew's site.

There is also a blog within Andrew's site, which, he says "aims to cover a variety of subjects and certainly comic strip related subjects". He adds: "I’ll be blogging re the new Wulf the Briton (Embleton) reprint for example, and I will be doing Dan Dare, Keith Watson etc". There is already a piece about Tomorrow Revisited.

Andrew also mentions (in passing!) the original 'Dan Dare' art he has for sale via his ComicArtFans site. There six art boards from 'The Ship That Lived' and also a spread by Keith Watson for 'Give Me the Moon'.

Thursday, 31 March 2011

Eagle Times Vol 24 No 1

Spring 2011 Contents
  • PC49 in The Case of the Crying Clown - beginning a new text story adaptation from one of Alan Stranks' famous BBC radio play police adventures
  • Spaceship Awaaaaaaaaay! - Eagle Times presents a transcript of one episode from a Dan Dare radio adventure serial, first broadcast in 1954 on Radio Luxembourg sponsored by Horlicks
  • In search of "Redmill" - a look at what is known of the life and work of Hubert Redmill, Eagle's sixth-most prolific Cutaway artist who, between 1952 to 1960 drew around 40 cutaway drawings for Eagle's centre pages.
  • The David Pugh 'Dan Dare' - the first part of an examination of the 'Dan Dare' stories drawn by one of the artists who took on the resurrected "original" Dan Dare in "new" Eagle 1989-1994
  • Rivals of Jeff Arnold - the sixth of the series takes a look at 'Gun Law', which started as an American radio series called 'Gunsmoke', became a long-running TV series shown initially in the UK as 'Gun Law', and then appeared as comic strips in Express Weekly and the Daily Express, drawn by Harry Bishop
  • Tomorrow Revisited - a review of Alastair Crompton's recently published celebration of the life and works of 'Dan Dare' creator, Frank Hampson
  • The Life of Another Brian - part 2, recalling memories about illustrator Brian Lewis, who  drew 'Home of the Wanderers' and 'Mann of Battle' for Eagle in the 1960s
  • Yesterday rewritten - some personal recollections on the background to Alastair Crompton's Tomorrow Revisited
  • Phonetic Phant - phantastically lighthearted wordplay, relating to Dan Dare's enemies on Cryptos
  • PC49 on the stage - reproductions of advertisements for the visit of the stage production of PC49 to Manchester's Hippodrome theatre, Ardwick Green, in April, 1950
  • Ron Embleton's Lovely Ladies - an illustrated article covering the many glamorous female characters Ron Embleton created during his prolific career.
  • Sammy, Swift's Space Fleet Cadet: Stripography - part 1, summarising the Space Fleet stories that appeared in Eagle's companion paper, drawn by 'Dan Dare' artists Desmond Walduck and Bruce Cornwell  
  • Obituary of the renowned Spanish artist, Victor de la Fuente who contributed 'Blackbow the Cheyenne' and 'Can You Catch a Crook?' strips to Eagle in the early1960s.
  • Spotted in the Press - the story of a "real life Tintin" who may have inspired HergĂ©'s famous character (who was created in 1929 in Belgium, but appeared translated for the first time in English in Eagle in 1951-952).

Wednesday, 9 February 2011

Dan Dare: Trip to Trouble

Trip to Trouble is the thirteenth in the Titan Books series of reprints of 'Dan Dare' from the original Eagle magazine. The volume contains four 'Dan Dare' adventures, two from Eagle in 1959-1960 and two which first appeared in Eagle Annual in 1957 and 1958.

The title story, 'Trip to Trouble', continues directly from 'Terra Nova' (which appears along with 'Safari in Space' in Titan's previous volume, which I reviewed on 19th December 2009) and thus concludes the trilogy that began with 'Safari in Space'. 'Terra Nova' ends on a cliff-hanger as Dan has a bright idea that will put him back on the trail of his missing father. Here, in 'Trip to Trouble', he continues the quest, along with Digby and Lex O'Malley, travelling across Terra Nova by raft to Lantor, where he intervenes in a war between the Lantorites and the invaders from Gaz, finally learns the fate of his father and is able to return home. 

'Trip to Trouble' was an appropriate title, in light of the editorial changes happening at Eagle when it was first published, and although 'Project Nimbus' followed it there was more than just a break in the continuity of storyline. Readers of Eagle were surprised when the issue for 19th March 1960 took a new look (and a price hike). The Eagle masthead had been changed and the world of 'Dan Dare' had been totally redesigned by Frank Bellamy (under editorial orders). Although some of Dan's Spacefleet colleagues were still around everything else had changed - architecture, uniforms, spacecraft - with no explanation for the reader! Some time before, the Eagle's new executive had decided on a revamp of Eagle and its lead strip. They called for the story arc started by Frank Hampson in 'Safari in Space' to be wound up. Without Hampson, the story had already diverted from the path in which he might have taken it, and it is unlikely Hampson would have brought his characters back to the Solar system so soon. 

In 'Project Nimbus', Dan has returned to Earth - and a very different Spacefleet - from where he is soon heading into space in the Nimbus Two in search of Nimbus One, a protoype photon-drive spaceship that has mysteriously disappeared on its maiden voyage. This leads him and Digby, Hank Hogan and Pierre Lafayette to the moons of Jupiter and an encounter with non-humanoid aliens.

Frank Bellamy had taken over from Frank Hampson as lead artist during 'Terra Nova', and continued to work "with" the remaining studio team members, who included Don Harley, Keith Watson and Gerald Palmer along with Eric Eden, who provided the script. Palmer is not credited on the title page, although he remained with the team for 'Terra Nova' and most, if not all, of 'Project Nimbus'. I believe Watson departed somewhat earlier in 1960, around the end of 'Trip to Trouble'(?), when he went off to draw 'Captain Condor' for Lion. Throughout his one-year tenure as lead artist, Bellamy produced about 50% of the boards himself, and the rest were produced separately by the rest of the team under his general direction. 

Under the new editorial management, and without Hampson's creative input, the 'Dan Dare' stories became much less epic in scope. So the two Eagle stories included in Trip to Trouble only fill about two-thirds of the volume. To fill the remainder, Titan have included two 'Dan Dare' stories from Eagle Annual. Both are from the time when Hampson was still working on 'Dan Dare'. The first, 'Space Race', is from Eagle Annual No. 7 and was drawn by Desmond Walduck, presumably from roughs provided by Hampson or members of his studio team. 'Operation Moss' is from Eagle Annual No. 8 and visually is so much better, being a "Frank Hampson Production" drawn by Frank Hampson and Don Harley. It is in my view the best of the annual strips, and shows Hampsom and Harley at their collaborative best.

An addition to the book is a text article by Jeremy Briggs, 'Dan Dare's Solar System', which reflects on the differences between Dan Dare's imaginary universe and what has been revealed about the solar system since the 1950s by real space probes.
I note that I pre-ordered Dan Dare: Trip to Trouble from Amazon over a year ago, soon after the publication of Dan Dare: Safari in Space. I believe the publication date was put back (possibly twice), although the reason for the delay is unclear. If it was to make sure of the quality, then it was worth the wait. Like the previous volume, the artwork, although inevitably reproduced from printed copies of Eagle (rather than from original artwork) benefits again from the loving restoration of Des Shaw (of the Spaceship Away team).

Let's hope in these austere times that this series continues, and Titan can complete the whole series of strips from Eagle. The previous venture by Hawk Books was spoilt by missing out a large portion of the strips that appeared in the 1960s.