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.

Wednesday, 26 October 2016

Martin Aitchison (1919-2016)

The well-known and respected Eagle and Ladybird Books artist, Martin Aitchison, died peacefully on 22 October 2016 at the age of 96. He had a full life, remaining fit and well until 6 months before his death. He will be best, and most fondly, remembered by Eagle readers as the artist who drew the strip 'Luck of the Legion' from 1952 until 1961.

Born in Birmingham in 1919, after an early education at Ellesmere College in Shropshire, he attended Birmingham School of Art and the Slade School of Art. During World War II he enrolled with Vickers Aircraft at Weybridge, Surrey, as a technical illustrator and afterwards he became a free-lance commercial artist. 

His first published work was for Hulton Press' Lilliput. This was followed by work for Girl, when he was called upon to fill in for artist Ray Bailey on two pages of 'Kitty Hawk', and to draw 'Flick - and the Vanishing New Girl' for Girl Annual No 1

He became one of Eagle's major non-'Dan Dare' artists. For nine years he produced weekly strip artwork for 'Luck of the Legion', which was scripted by Geoffrey Bond. 'Luck of the Legion' was one of the few strips in Eagle that had the same artist throughout its run. He also drew for Swift and Swift Annual. When 'Luck' was dropped from Eagle, Martin drew a further three strips for Eagle, plus one for Eagle Annual, before leaving in 1963 to work for Ladybird Books. He became one of their principal artists and produced artwork for around 70 titles, until 1990. 

For members of the Eagle Society, their first acquaintance with the man, rather than his work, was when in 1996, Martin attended an Eagle Society Annual Dinner at Sparsholt, as Guest of Honour.

From 1998, although "retired", he teamed again with writer Geoffrey Bond and drew 'Justin Tyme - Ye Hapless Highwayman', a humorous strip, which ran for over 5 years in Eagle Times.

There is a list of Martin's Eagle work and references on our earlier blogpost: Eagle Artists - Martin Aitchison (from which some of this post has drawn).

Monday, 24 October 2016

Dan Dare: The Audio Adventures

A new series of Dan Dare audio adventures, based on the characters and stories from Frank Hampson’s original comic strip in Eagle has been produced by B7 Media and will be published by Big Finish, available from December, 2016. 

The new series will the fifth incarnation of Dan Dare in audio form. 
  • The New Adventures of Dan Dare first appeared on Radio Luxembourg from 1951 until 1956, with Noel Johnson (of Dick Barton fame) as Dan Dare. 
  • In 1990 (Eagle's 40th Anniversary year) the BBC's Dan Dare Pilot of the Future adapted the first Venus story from Eagle with Mick Ford in the title role. 
  • In 2008 Orion Audio Books published a dramatised reading of the strip (with Tom Goodman-Hill reading Dan Dare's dialogue). The full title was Dan Dare Pilot of the Future: The Voyage to Venus - Part 1. Unfortunately there has been no part 2. 
  • The fourth incarnation was Michael Shipway's 2011 musical adaptation of the first adventure, Voyage to Venus, which included dialogue sampled from the BBC's 1990 dramatisation.

Tom Stoppard
The new series stars actor Ed Stoppard as the intrepid "pilot of the future", Colonel Dan Dare.

Ed Stoppard has had many film, television and theatre roles, in movies such as The Pianist, Brideshead Revisited, and Youth. Recent television roles have included Brian Epstein in Cilla, and Dr Will Campbell in Home Fires.

Dan Dare’s loyal companion, Digby, is played by Geoff McGivern, probably best known to science fiction fans as the original Ford Prefect in The Hitch Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy on radio and in recent live UK tours. Some of his recent TV roles have been in Toast of London, Esio Trot and Episodes.

Heida Reed
Professor Peabody is played by Heida Reed, best known in the role of Elizabeth in the currently running BBC drama series Poldark.

Sondar is played by Bijan Daneshmand, whose acting credits include 20 Fingers, A Snake’s Tail, Body of Lies, Munich, Page Eight and the BBC dramatisation of John le CarrĂ©’s The Night Manager.

The Mekon is played by Raad Rawi, known for his roles in Spy, The Devil's Double and Traitor, as well as appearances in some of the most popular British television drama series, such as Coronation Street, The Bill, Silent Witness, Holby City, etc. and the mini-series The Honourable Woman.
Voyage to Venus

Sir Hubert will be played by Michael Cochcrane, who has had numerous acting roles on television and radio, including (on TV) Wings, Criminal Justice, Law and Order and Sharpe

His film career has included Escape to Victory, The Return of the Soldier, Number One Gun, The Saint, Incognito, A Different Loyalty and The Iron Lady.
The Red Moon Mystery

Guest stars include: Jake Maskall (East Enders, The Royals), Hugh Fraser (Agatha Christie's Poirot, Sharpe), Nicholas Briggs (Doctor Who, Torchwood), Noof McEwan (Vera, Leave to Remain), Jonathan Rhodes (M.I. High, Beacon 77, Deadpan Valentine), Kelly Burke (The Blind Man), Dean Harris (The Fourth Arm, Howard’s Way, Bad Boyes)

Writers on the series are Richard Kurti and Bev Doyle, James Swallow, Simon Guerrier, Marc Platt, Patrick Chapman and Colin Brake.

Marooned on Mercury

The first volume of adventures will be published at the end of December 2016, and will be available as a 4-CD set or a download from the Big Finish website. The volume will contain Voyage to Venus, The Red Moon Mystery and Marooned on Mercury and, on the fourth disc, a documentary on bringing Dan Dare back to audio life in 2016. 

A second 4-CD volume containing Reign of the Robots, Operation Saturn and Prisoners of Space plus another documentary “bonus” disc, will be published in February 2017.

The Dan Dare Audio Adventures can be pre-ordered from the Big Finish website, where you can find further details: www.bigfinish.com  The pre-order price for each volume is £20 for download or £25 for a CD box-set.

To listen to the trailer click HERE

To read synopses of the first three adventures and pre-order Volume 1click HERE
To read synopses of the second three adventures and pre-order Volume 2 click HERE

With thanks to John Freeman and B7 Media, who provided most of the information and the pictures

Saturday, 1 October 2016

Eagle Times Vol 29 No 3

Autumn 2016 Contents

  • 'Artist of the Future' - an exploration of some of Frank Hampson's inspirations and visionary ideas that he brought to the 'Dan Dare' strip
  • 'Jeff Arnold's Hat' - a comparison of the hats worn in the 'Riders of the Range' strip in Eagle with those of the real "Wild West"
  • 'Deep Sea Doctor' - an examination of the "real life" adventure of Wilfred Grenfell as told in strip form on the back page of Eagle in 1952, written by R.B. Saxe and drawn by Norman Williams
  • 'In and Out of the Eagle' - more episodes in the series presenting collections of Eagle-related snippets  
  • 'PC49 and the Case of the Stolen Half Crowns' - a new PC49 story, based on the characters originally created for radio by Alan Stranks
  • 'Martin Asbury (part 2) Storyboardman' - a look at the prolific work of former 'Garth' artist, Martin Asbury as a storyboard artist on over fifty mainstream movies
  • '1954. The Eagle is Changing' - on the many changes to Eagle around its fifth year of publication
  • 'More Eagle Miscellany' -  a collection of notes on Eagle history, largely gathered from conversations with former Eagle contributors, guests at Eagle Society Dinners
  •  'Shadow Artists' - on the various artists who took over from or stood in for the principal artists of many of the strips in Eagle 
  •  'Marcus Morris: The TV and Radio Star' - on the various radio and television appearances of Eagle's Editor, during Eagle's times and later
  • 'The Earth Stealers' - recollections of the 'Dan Dare' strip that ran in Eagle from December 1961 to March 1962
  • 'Island of Fire' - a look at Richard Jennings' colour strip, which appeared in Eagle in 1962 (and would later be reprinted in TV21 Annual, in edited form, as 'Volcano Island')
  • 'Playing the Game' - how Eagle covered sport in the early days
  • 'Roger Perry, 1938-2016' - an obituary of the former Hulton Press photographer and Eagle contributor (he was the model for Eagle's 'Roving Reporter'), and who, following his professional retirement, contributed many articles to Eagle Times about Eagle, Hulton Press and the people who worked there
This issue's cover picture is from from Eagle No 5 (12 May 1950). It may have been based on a photograph of a prone USAF pilot that appeared in National Geographic magazine the previous year