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.

Saturday, 14 December 2013

Eagle Times Vol 26 No 4

Winter 2013 Contents

  • An appreciation of the work of artist Peter Jackson, whose illustrations appeared in The Evening News, Look and Learn, Express Weekly (for whom he drew the strip 'Mark Fury') and Eagle - for whom he drew the true-life stories 'The Great Explorer' (David Livingstone), 'The Travels of Marco Polo' (taking over when Bellamy moved on to 'Dan Dare'), and 'Gordon of Khartoum'
  • An obituary of Bob Bartholomew (1923-2013) Eagle's Editor from 1962 - 1969
  • 'TV21 revisited' - another look at TV Century 21, a rival paper to Eagle, that was published from 1965 - 1971 with contents largely devoted to strips based on the Gerry Anderson Television series such as Stingray and Thunderbirds, and which used a number of former Eagle artists including Frank Bellamy, Richard Jennings and Eric Eden 
  • 'The Rivals of Jeff Arnold No. 12: Roy Rogers' - on the man who took the acting name of Roy Rogers and appeared in numerous western movies from the mid-1930s, inspiring a prolific number of comics and books from the 1940s through the 1950s
  • David Jacobs, C.B.E. (1926 - 2013) - an obituary of the prolific British broadcaster, disc-jockey and actor, fondly remembered by many for his contribution to Charles Chilton's Journey into Space radio series in which, as well as being the announcer, he took on a total of 22 different roles
  • 'Miraculous survival of the last Frank Hampson artwork' - on the mural 'Inventions That Altered Our World', the last piece on which Frank Hampson worked before his death in 1985 and which had to be restored after 1987, when the garage it was stored within lost its roof in the great storm 
  • 'Hornblower in Eagle - Part 2': on the final two strip stories based on C.S. Forrester's Hornblower books that appeared in Eagle, and the enduring popularity of the character
  • 'It's Not Rocket Science' - a reflection on the difficulties of modern life. Eagle Society member Steve Winders' amusing after dinner talk from the 2013 Eagle Society gathering at Leamington Spa
  • 'PC49 and the Case of the Lost Christmas Tree' - a seasonal crime caper for Eagle's "copper", adapted from one of Alan Stranks' radio plays 
  • 'Boys' World: Ticket to Adventure' - a review of Steve Holland's book about the short-lived rival to Eagle that appeared in 1963 and merged with it in 1964, after 89 issues
  • 'From Under the 1950s Christmas Tree: Eagle Guns' - on the various toy firearms that appeared in the 1950s, based on 'Dan Dare' and 'Riders of the Range' - from ray-guns to six-guns, water-pistols to cap-guns, projectors and torches
  • '50 years ago . . . the First Dan Dare Club began' - on the early days of 'Dan Dare' and Eagle fandom, and the publication of the first 'Dan Dare' fan magazine, Astral, "The Official Journal of The International Dan Dare Club"
  • 'The Beast in Loch Craggon' - an examination of the "monster" strip that ran in Eagle in 1963, drawn by John McLusky (who also drew the 'James Bond' strip for the Daily Express)
The cover artwork for this issue of Eagle Times is by Peter Jackson

Monday, 30 September 2013

Eagle Times Vol 26 No 3

Autumn 2013 Contents

  • 'Laurence Dunn – Maritime Artist', reviews the career of Eagle's third most prolific cutaway artist (after L. Ashwell Wood and J. Walkden Fisher), whose career as a (predominantly) maritime artist and author began in the mid 1930s
  • 'Winding my way down Baker Street' – an appreciation of the artist and illustrator Don Harley – whom 'Dan Dare' creator Frank Hampson (the best, of course) once described as “the second best 'Dan Dare' artist” 
  • 'PC49 and the Case of the Counterfeit Copper' – part 2, concluding a text story, specially adapted for Eagle Times from one of Alan Stranks' famous BBC radio plays
  • 'Frank McDiarmid' - an article-with-Q&A on an artist whose career began over fifty years ago with D.C. Thompson and who (in 1967, for Fleetway/IPC) drew 'Mickey Merlin' in Eagle 
  • 'Tea-gle' - on the Eagle cutaway of the Cutty Sark which is included as part of an exhibition at the National Maritime Museum at Greenwich 
  • 'Die-Cast Comics' - on the numerous die cast vehicle models that feature story papers or comics and their characters, such as Boy's Own Paper,  Eagle and 'Dan Dare', Beano and 'Biffo the Bear', Tiger and 'Roy of the Rovers', etc.
  • 'Dan Dare Holiday Special, 1991': the fourth in a series of articles about Eagle holiday specials examines the second (and last?) Dan Dare Special.
  • 'Celebrating Ten years of Spaceship Away' - a review of the first ten years of the magazine that publishes (3 times a year) new adventures of the original 'Dan Dare', along with other science fiction strips.
  • 'Randolph Turpin – Eagle Sports Personality 1951-52'. On the ultimately tragic life of the boxer from Leamington Spa who won the World Middleweight Championship against Sugar Ray Robinson in July 1951, and was voted Sports Personality for two successive years by Eagle readers
  • 'In Memory of Charles Chilton' - an account of the celebration of the life and work of the famous writer and producer, that was held at the BBC on 29th June, 2013
  • 'Hornblower in Eagle' - an examination of the strip, based on C.S. Forrester's Hornblower stories, that appeared in Eagle between and 1962 and 1963, drawn by Martin Aitchison
  • Reggie Musgrave – obituary
  • 'Dan Dare Pilot of the Future Spacefleet Operations Manual' – a review of the recently published Haynes guide to Spacefleet 
  • 'Eagle Day 2013' - a photo-illustrated report on the exhibition/bring-and-buy held at Great Staughton, Cambs., on 8th September, 2013
  • 'No Eagle this week?' - features a book illustration (dating from 1890) for a story which concerned another publication called the "Eagle"
  • 'The Allisons Spread their Wings' - on the career of the 1960s pop duo, one of whose earliest broadcast performances was on the Hulton Press-sponsored Spread Your Wings programme on Radio Luxembourg
  • David Jacobs CBE – noting the recent recent death (on 2nd September, 2013) of the famous actor and presenter

Tuesday, 16 July 2013

Another Eagle Day



The Village Hall
Great Staughton, St. Neots, Cambridgeshire
PE19 5DG

Sunday, 8th September, 2013 

10.00 - 16.00

Eagle Days were the idea of the late Bob Rothwell. The purpose is to meet with fellow Eaglers and collectors, to chat, swap, buy and sell spare EAGLE and other comic-related items - and generally have a good time. Following last year's Eagle Day at Great Staughton, its host, Clive O'Dell, has decided to repeat the honours at the same venue. 

The day will include talks on EAGLE-related subjects and a chance to look at displays of EAGLE/comic-related items. 
Light refreshments will be available. 

Single entry £3 - in advance or pay on the door. 

Bring your spare EAGLE/comic items. 
Book a table in the hall for £5.

Free parking is available nearby (entrance is past the two houses to the right of the hall,
 near the bend in the road)

Please address all enquiries including bookings to:
Clive O’Dell, 27, The Highway, Great Staughton, Cambridge, PE19 5DA. 
Telephone 01480 860339

Sunday, 30 June 2013

Eagle Times Vol 26 No 2

Summer 2013 Contents
  • 'Leslie Ashwell Wood's 1953 Coronation Procession'. In the month during which Her Majesty celebrated the 60th Anniversary of her Coronation, Jeremy Briggs takes a look at the story behind one of Eagle's commemorative centre-page illustrations, 'Televising the Coronation Procession', illustrated with reference pictures and with Ashwell Wood's  previously unseen sketches
  • 'The Spacesuit as Art' - Brett Gooden, author of the book Spacesuit: a History Through Fact and Fiction, explores the conceptual origins and development of spacesuit  illustrations as they appeared in science fiction books, comics and films
  • 'The Fighting Cheyenne - Eagle v. Hollywood'. How the tragic story of the 1500 miles trek across America by Cheyenne Indians was portrayed in Eagle's 'Riders of the Range' story ‘Last of the Fighting Cheyenne’ and how John Ford's movie Cheyenne Autumn portrayed the same events
  • 'Dan Dare in the Eagle Force Mystery' - Jeremy Briggs takes a look at the mystery surrounding some (supposedly) Dan Dare artwork, which appeared on the front endpaper of Daniel Tatarsky's Dan Dare: The Biography in 2010
  • 'Johnny Frog' - Steve Winders takes a look at the final strip that George Beardmore wrote for Eagle, which ran in 1964, an historical b&w strip set in the time of the Napoleonic Wars, and illustrated by Ron Embleton
  • 'Paul Carpenter - the man who was Jeff Arnold', on the Canadian post-war actor, who played cowboy Jeff Arnold in Charles Chilton's Riders of the Range BBC radio show
  • 'Mann of Battle' - in the second part of his article, about the Second World War adventure strip, which ran in Eagle from 1962-64, Steve Winders examines the Eagle Annual stories
  • 'The Wrong Plane!!' - How an illustrated article on 'The Story of Flight', which appeared in Dan Dare's Space Annual 1963, included an aircraft recognition error
  • 'Weston-Super-Dare' - how Dan Dare's Space Ship (towed by a donkey) arrived on the beach at Weston-Super-Mare in the 1950s
  • 'PC49 and the Case of the Counterfeit Copper' - another of Alan Strank's famous BBC radio plays, specially adapted as a text story for Eagle Times
  • A photo-illustrated report on the 2013 Eagle Society Gathering, held at Leamington Spa in April 2013

The cover picture of this issue of Eagle Times is from Eagle, 22nd May, 1953. Although we know his first name is Gordon, the artist is unknown, as his surname is unclear from the signature. (Possibly it is Norres?)

Wednesday, 12 June 2013

Dan Dare: Space Fleet Operations Manual (Review)

A nice surprise, when I got back from holiday the other day, was to find waiting for me a review copy of this new book from Haynes Publishers. 

Written by long-time Dan Dare fan (and Eagle Society member) Rod Barzilay, and beautifully illustrated with cutaways by Graham Bleathman, the Dan Dare Space Fleet Operations Manual takes a detailed look at (and inside) the spaceships, space stations and various other craft that played such a huge part in bringing the excitement of space travel to Dan Dare stories through the 1950s and 1960s. 

Published on 6th June, 2013, the book harks back to those earlier times when, every week, British schoolboys (and their Dads, not to mention a few Mums and sisters!) thrilled to the space adventures of Dan Dare (The) Pilot of the Future, as told in comic-strip form in the pages of Eagle. The creation of Frank Hampson, Dan Dare's adventures ran for nearly 20 years in Eagle (over 9 of them under Frank Hampson's direction) and the character name has resurfaced several times since, not always in the full spirit of the original, but testimony enough to Frank Hampson's and Dan Dare's enduring legacy. As well as from the original series in Eagle, the author has pulled into the timeline of Space Fleet history relevant episodes from, Eagle Annual  ABC Film Review, Dan Dare Annual, Dan Dare's Spacebook, the Sunday People newspaper strip, "new" Eagle, and his own Spaceship Away magazine, which since 2003 has been publishing Dan Dare stories in (or close to) the style of the Eagle original. Some of the cutaways included in this book have previously appeared there.

Part of what made the stories so compelling, memorable and influential in their hey-day, was the extent to which Hampson, his studio team and their sympathetic successors created a believable future universe in which to place the stories: new worlds, new technologies, new civilisations; fauna, flora, friends and foes. Since the stories were projected some fifty years forward from the end of the Second World War, readers of the strip today will notice that the real world has diverged from the future envisaged then for Dan Dare, and that world can now be be seen as an alternate reality from our own - one in which Britain took a leading role in the development of space exploration, where the United Nations supported an effective World Government, and an Interplanet Space Fleet combined international resources from countries such as Britain, the USA and France to explore space and defend the Earth from external threats.

Following a brief introduction from its author, the book treats the world of Dan Dare as fact, Interplanet Space Fleet having "commissioned Haynes to produce the Dan Dare Space Fleet Operations Manual  for its personnel, cadets and those interested in the part it has played from our first steps into space to the exploration of the solar system and beyond". The contents feature:
  • A personal introduction (dated 2022) by the Controller of Space Fleet, no less than Dan Dare himself!
  • A history of early spaceflight, propulsion systems and first steps to the Moon (1960!) and Mars (1965!)
  • Fully detailed and comprehensively annotated cutaway drawings of the principal ISF spaceships, space stations and installations, along with many of the alien craft that Space Fleet has encountered to date
  • Profiles of ISF personnel, and the aliens they have faced over the years
  • Space Fleet history: a guide to ISF’s missions and Dan Dare’s adventures
The Author, Rod Barzilay, as did most of us in the Eagle Society, grew up with Dan Dare and Eagle magazine and is a lifelong enthusiast. In 2003 he launched Spaceship Away magazine, which along with other sci-fi stories, has for 10 years (three issues per year) featured new Dan Dare stories, illustrated in the original style, and designed to fit within the original Dan Dare timeline. Graham Bleathman is an illustrator famous for his detailed cutaway drawings, particularly those associated with Gerry Anderson series, such as Thunderbirds and Captain Scarlet, and two Wallace & Gromit Cracking Contraptions Manuals.

Fully authorised by the Dan Dare Corporation Limited, this Haynes Manual joins a number of other space fiction oriented manuals from Haynes - including manuals for Thunderbirds (also illustrated by Graham Bleathman), Star Wars Millenium Falcon, and the USS Enterprise from Star Trek. It is a wonderful addition to any library of books about Eagle and Dan Dare, or for that matter the broader subject of cult science fiction series, and would make an ideal companion to sit alongside the Titan Books reprints of the original Classic Dan Dare series. Unfortunately the Titan run seems to have stalled with Trip to Trouble, which appeared in January, 2011.

Conclusion: Highly Recommended!  

For other reviews of Dan Dare Space Fleet Operations Manual, see:
Down the Tubes also has a interviews with
Dan Dare Space Fleet Operations Manual by Rod Barzilay, illustrated by Graham Bleathman, ISBN 978 85733 286 8, is published by Haynes Publications at £16.99. Well worth the money, but at the time of this review, it can be ordered from amazon.co.uk at £10.87

Saturday, 23 March 2013

Eagle Times Vol 26 No 1

Eagle Times 
25th Anniversary Issue
Spring 2013 Contents
  • 'A Thrill of a Lifetime in 1957' - the story of how one lucky 1950s reader, Robert Pegg, entered a competition in Eagle, and won a trip to Kenya with his father, flying in BOAC's newest airliner, the Bristol Britannia aircraft, otherwise known as The Whispering Giant
  • 'Dan Dare Pilot of the Future on Radio Luxembourg' - a review of the radio serial, sponsored by Horlicks, that aired five days a week on 208 Medium Waveband from 1951 - 1956. The article includes a story listing and is accompanied by a short article on the origins of the malted milk product known as Horlicks 
  • 'Serial Thrillers: The Adventure Serial on British Radio' - a review of Charles Norton’s new book about four immensely popular series from the Golden Age of British Radio, ie: Paul Temple, Dick Barton, Dan Dare, and Journey into Space
  • 'P.C.49 and the Case of the Circular Tins' - a further adaptation from one of Alan Stranks' famous radio stories
  • An obituary of Charles Chilton, M.B.E. (1917 - 2013), the renowned radio writer and producer, and writer of the 'Riders of the Range' strip that ran in Eagle from 1950 until 1962, plus a report on the funeral service held on 11th January, 2013, to commemorate his life
  • 'How I learned to stop worrying and appreciate the genius of John Burns' - a look at the career and varied work of one of the artists who drew 'Dan Dare' for the "new" Eagle in 1990  
  • 'When is a Hampson not a Hampson?' - on the particular challenge and difficulties of reliably attributing Eagle 'Dan Dare' artwork to its original creator and lead artist, Frank Hampson 
  • 'Charles William (Bill) Nuttall - Artist' - a former Eagle letterer (Eagle Society member David Gould) provides a biographical review of the early career of lettering artist and illustrator, Bill Nuttall, and his personal recollections of working with Bill at Eagle from the mid-1960s. 
  • 'Mann of Battle', part 1 - a look at the World War II strip that ran weekly in Eagle from 1962 - 1964, written by Alfred Carney Allan and drawn initially by Luis Bermejo, then for most of its life by Brian Lewis
  • 'Dan Dare Holiday Special (1990)' - the third in a series of articles about Eagle-related holiday specials, this one looking at the only 'Dan Dare'-specific special to be published.
  • 'Interviewing Marcus Morris' - a photo-illustrated article recounting a visit in 1987 to the home of former Eagle Editor Marcus Morris
  • 'Lion, King of Picture Story papers'  - a review of Steve Holland's recent book about Eagle's 1950s' rival  - the comic that eventually (1969) swallowed Eagle
The cover of this issue celebrates 25 years of Eagle Times and incorporates the front cover of our first issue (Spring 1988) alongside a study, by John Burns, of Dan Dare's companion, Digby. 

Saturday, 5 January 2013

Charles Chilton (1917 - 2013)

Charles Chilton, MBE
Charles (Frederick William) Chilton, MBE, the renowned BBC radio producer and writer, best known to Eagle readers as the scriptwriter of ‘Riders of the Range’ and the author and producer of the BBC radio serial Journey into Space, died on 2nd January, 2013, aged 95.

Charles was born into poverty on 15th June, 1917 and was raised by his grandmother in King's Cross, London. He joined the BBC as a messenger at the age of 15, soon becoming an assistant (or as he described it in his autobiography, "assistant to the assistant"!) in the BBC’s gramophone library. By the age of 18 he had moved into radio presentation and production. He developed a passion for jazz and presented many music programmes including ‘Swing Time’ and ‘Radio Rhythm Club’. His first major radio production was Alastair Cook’s ‘I Hear America Singing’.

During the Second World War, he served with the RAF as a radio instructor before being transferred to Armed Forces radio. In Ceylon (now Sri Lanka) he ran the forces radio station with David Jacobs. After the war he returned to London and (following his divorce from an earlier unsuccessful marriage) he married Penny, a BBC secretary. In 1949 he created and produced a popular weekly BBC radio show called Riders of the Range, which was described as "a musical Western drama". 

When in 1950 the Editor of Eagle, Marcus Morris, obtained permission from the BBC for a comic-strip version of Riders of the Range, Charles took on the writing of the weekly strip, too. He continued to write and produce the radio show until 1953 and to write the scripts for Eagle’s ‘Riders of the Range’ strip and scripts and stories for numerous Riders of the Range and Eagle annuals, into the early 1960s. He also wrote the script for ‘Flying Cloud’, a western strip that appeared in Girl. As the comic strip ‘Riders of the Range’ developed, Charles became an expert on the Wild West and introduced authentic historic western stories into the series. He also wrote historical accounts of the West, such as The Book of the West (Odhams, 1961) which, after publication in America, earned him The Western Heritage Award for Juvenile Books in 1963.

When Riders of the Range finished on radio (1953) Charles was tasked by the BBC with creating a science fiction series, though he then new nothing of the subject. The result was the hugely successful Journey into Space, featuring spaceman Jet Morgan and his crew (Doc, Mitch and Lemmy), which ran to three series (totalling 58 episodes) all of which he wrote and produced between 1953 and 1955. Journey into Space was among the last radio programmes to attract audiences greater in number than television. The series' subsequent transformation to book and comic strip form under his own authorship assured Chilton’s international recognition. His research for the series led to him becoming a keen amateur astronomer. Among his other radio production credits in the fifties are a several editions of The Goon Show in 1953, 1957 and 1958.

In 1962 Charles Chilton wrote and produced a radio musical based on World War 1 songs, called The Long, Long Road. In 1963 this was transformed through his collaboration with Joan Littlewood's Theatre Workshop into the stage production: Oh! What a Lovely War, which then (in 1969) was turned into a film by writer Len Deighton and director Richard Attenborough.

In 1976 Charles was awarded the MBE, which was presented to him by the Queen Mother. Although he retired from the BBC soon after, he continued to write and for many years was a Guide for London Walks. In the 1980s he wrote a sequel Journey into Space radio play, The Return from Mars, and two science fiction serials in the Journey into Space vein: Space Force and Space Force II. He later wrote a further Journey into Space radio play, Frozen in Time, which was broadcast by the BBC in 2008. The  Journey into Space serials are often re-broadcast on the BBC's Radio 4 Extra station and are available as audio-CD collections and audio-downloads.

Charles Chilton's autobiography, Auntie's Charlie, was published by Fantom Press in 2011 along with a new edition of his first Journey into Space novel, Operation Luna. The second and third Journey into Space novels, The Red Planet and The World in Peril, followed from the same publisher in 2012.

The books were published as limited edition hardbacks but are now available in paperback.