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.

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