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, 15 March 2012

Eagle Times Vol 25 No 1

Spring 2012 Contents
  • 'The Roger Dean Experience' - on working in the late 1970s - early 1980s with the founder of Dragon's Dream on the 'Dan Dare' trilogy (The Man From Nowhere, Rogue Planet and Reign of the Robots), and the other Dragon's Dream reprints of Eagle strips, The Road of Courage and High Command 
  • The Eagle Cutaways of A. Bruce Cornwell* - a look at some of the 'Dan Dare' artist's other work, focussing on his cutaway drawings
  • 'Inside Information By L. Ashwell Wood' - on the final cutaway drawing series produced in Ashwell Wood's productive career, which was published by Benwig Books from 1969 to about 1971 
  • 'Leslie Wood in the 1930s' - a look at Wood's illustrations for the 1930s part-works Romance of the Nation and The World of Wonder.
  • 'A Look at Luck' - part 3 of a series examining the French Foreign Legion strip by Geoffrey Bond and Martin Aitchison, that ran in Eagle from 1952 - 1961
  • 'Dan Dare Figures' (from the 1950s to the present day) - part 2 concludes by taking a look at those produced by Southall/Britains, Mettoy Playthings, Unicorn Miniatures and other manufacturers
  • 'Rye - Pugwash's Town' - report of a visit made in 2010 to the home town of Captain Pugwash and Harris Tweed creator, the late John Ryan, describing the exhibits on view at the Rye Castle Museum and at the Rye Art Gallery
  • 'PC49 and the Case of the Missing Schoolboy' - Alan Strank's famous radio (and Eagle) police hero features in a newly adapted story
  • 'Visual Memories of Eaglecon 80' - part 2 of a series remembering the only London comics convention ever held solely for Eagle enthusiasts
  • 'Only Digby was a more committed Follower' - a tribute to the late Eagle Society member and Dan Dare enthusiast, Geoff Provins
  • 'Remembering The Ship That Lived' - a re-look at the "filler" 'Dan Dare' story that followed 'Reign of the Robots'
  • 'Classics Illustrated and The West' - how the 1950s Classics Illustrated comic treated some of the real-life and fictional characters of the Wild West 
  • 'Sky Buccaneers' - an examination of the "air pirate" series which ran in Eagle in 1968, written by Edward Cowan and drawn by José Ortiz
* Note: News of the death of Bruce Cornwell in early March reached us after this issue of Eagle Times went to press.

Wednesday, 14 March 2012

Voyage to Venus - Michael Shipway

Michael Shipway's Voyage To Venus, published by MSL Music, is an electronic music album inspired by the first 'Dan Dare, Pilot of the Future' story (which began in Eagle No. 1 in 1950). It is available on CD and comes  in a standard CD "jewell" case with a 12-page illustrated booklet.

The 10 tracks mix electronic melodies with selections of dialogue from the BBC's 1990 (40th Anniversary) radio serial adaptation, each track representing a key scene from the story. The music was created by use of hardware synthesizers, with occasional electric guitar. The booklet is illustrated with scenes from the original Eagle cartoon strip.

The tracks are listed below. The links are to samples on the MSL website.

01 Kingfisher listen
02 Mekonta
03 Silicon Mass listen
04 The Jungle
05 The Mekon
06 Turning Blue
07 Submariner listen
08 Kargaz
09 Invasion
10 Victory listen

To read more about the creation of the album you can look here.

While I wouldn't claim that electronic music is my "usual cup of tea" I rather enjoyed it, my £10 investment was far from wasted, and I recommend the album to all fans of 'Dan Dare', but suggest you listen to the samples. If you like what you hear, you can order the full CD from the MSL Music Shop. The album is not available for download (since the booklet is seen as an integral part of the product).

Incidentally, the title Voyage to Venus seems to have been first formally appended to the first 'Dan Dare' story when Titan Books began reprinting the series in 2004. Previously it had been known among fans (variously) as "the first adventure", "the first Venus story" or "the first Venus series". Titan's lead in calling it Voyage to Venus was followed when Orion Publishing produced an audiobook version of the first half of the story in 2008. I understand the CD version of that is no longer available, though it is available as an audio download. A sample can be heard here. (Orion, please note: fans are still waiting for the second half!)

The BBC's 1990 adaptation of the story, by Nick McCarty, has been rebroadcast several times on BBC Radio 7 (since renamed Radio 4 Extra), the most recent being, I believe, in December 2007. It has not been officially released on CD, though unofficial copies can be found on the internet.

Monday, 12 March 2012

Eagle and Dan Dare Commemorated on a Stamp

On 20th March 2012, Eagle and its leading character, Dan Dare, will be featured on one of a set of 1st class postage stamps issued by the Royal Mail. The Comics stamps issue comprising ten designs marks the 75th Anniversary of the first issue (in December 1937) of The Dandy (which is Britain's longest running comic) and some of the comics (and characters) that have since followed, including Eagle and Dan Dare. 

The full set of ten stamps is shown below and includes:
  • The Dandy & Desperate Dan. First published by D.C. Thomson in December, 1937, The Dandy featured Desperate Dan from the start although not initially on its cover. 
  • The Beano & Dennis the Menace. Also from D.C. Thomson, The Beano first appeared in July, 1938, though Dennis the Menace did not appear until 1951. 
  • Eagle & Dan Dare. First published by Hulton Press in 1950, Eagle featured Dan Dare, Pilot of the Future, whose full-colour space adventures took off on the cover of the first issue. 
  • The Topper & Beryl the Peril. Published by D.C. Thomson from 1953 until 1990, The Topper featured Beryl the Peril from the first issue, although this "female Dennis the Menace" did not reach the cover until 1986.
  • Tiger & Roy of the Rovers. Published from 1954 to 1985 by Amalgamated Press/IPC/Fleetway, Tiger featured predominantly sporting strips, the most popular being football hero Roy (Race) of the (Melchester) Rovers, who later spawned his own comic.
  • Bunty & The Four Marys. Published by D.C. Thomson from 1958 to 2001, Bunty was aimed at the young female market, and The Four Marys featured the adventures of four girls at boarding school.
  • Buster & Buster. Buster  comic was published by IPC/Fleetway from 1960 to 2000. The character who shared the comic's title was originally billed as "Buster: Son of Andy Capp" (of Daily Mirror fame).
  • Valiant & The Steel Claw. Valiant was published by IPC/Fleetway from 1962 to 1976, featuring World War II and other adventure series, as well as science fiction strips like the Steel Claw, which featured a scientist who is rendered invisible, apart from his artificial hand.
  • Twinkle & Nurse Nancy. Twinkle was published by D.C. Thomson from 1968 to 1999, aimed at young girls. Nurse Nancy ran a toy hospital with her grandfather.
  • 2000 AD & Judge Dredd. The long-running 2000 AD is a science fiction-oriented comic, first published in 1977 by IPC (when the year 2000 seemed a long way off!). Judge Dredd, whose powers of law enforcement include those of police, judge and jury plus executioner, made his first appearance in the second issue.

More information on the Royal Mail website

Monday, 5 March 2012

A. Bruce Cornwell - obituary

Centrespread illustration by Bruce Cornwell
Spaceship Away, No. 12, Summer 2007 
Sadly we have heard of the death, on 2nd March 2012, of one of the original artists who worked on the 'Dan Dare' strip, Bruce Cornwell.

Though born in Canada, A. Bruce Cornwell was raised as a child in California, USA, before coming to Europe to study art at Regent Street Polytechnic in London and the Académie Julian in Paris. During the Second World War he served in the British Merchant Navy. After the war he became a maritime artist and freelance illustrator, before joining the staff of Eagle in early 1950.

In an article written for Eagle Times in 1998 Bruce told how he came to work on Eagle, after answering an advertisement in a trade paper, presumably in late 1949. Although used to working solo, he then found himself as part of a team working on 'Dan Dare' with Frank Hampson and the rest of the studio team in the lean-to shed and former bakery which was the original studio in Southport. His main contribution to 'Dan Dare' was not so much on figure work, though he could do that if needed, but specialising in technical subjects: buildings, machinery, spaceships: "All the work stemmed from Frank's superb roughs and my reason for being there was to take over most of the drawing of machinery."

After objecting to the excessive working hours, Bruce left the studio some time during Dan Dare's first adventure (which, incidentally, ran for about a year and a half). Later,  after the team's move to the new studio in Epsom, Bruce returned under the promise that the work schedule would be less demanding. It wasn't, and after he was refused leave when the work began affecting his health, he left again.

In 1960, after Hampson's team had been broken up, he returned to work with Don Harley on four 'Dan Dare' stories, staying for two years until 1962, when Keith Watson took over.

In addition to 'Dan Dare', Bruce's contributions to Eagle included 'Ships Through the Ages', (some) 'Tommy Walls', and four cutaway drawings, all of nautical subjects. He contributed many of the illustrations, including a number of cutaway drawing designs, to Dan Dare's Spacebook (1953) and Dan Dare's Space Annual 1963. In addition to his work for Eagle he also drew 'Sammy In Space' (with Desmond Walduck) in Swift, 'Space Captain Jim Stalwart' in Junior Mirror, 'Danny Dare' (with Leo Baxendale) in Wham! and 'Journey into Space' (following Ferdinando Tacconi) in Express Weekly. The scope of his commercial art included book covers and line illustrations, the best known being those he did for the Kemlo and Tas children's science fiction series by E.C. Eliott. 

By 1998, when he wrote for Eagle Times, he was "still working" but had retired from commercial work projects, dividing his time between painting and exhibiting, assisting his wife with her business and indulging his favourite hobby: maintaining and running a number of classic cars. Bruce was one of the Eagle Society's special guests at the Grail Centre, Pinner for our 13th Annual Dinner in 1999. More recently he had been persuaded to contribute a number of 'Dan Dare' themed painted illustrations to Spaceship Away, including the one shown above.

The news of Bruce's death arrived with us after the Spring 2012 issue of Eagle Times went to press. The issue includes an article by Jeremy Briggs on Bruce's cutaway drawings. We will be including an obituary in our Summer issue.