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, 14 December 2016

Eagle Times Vol 29 No 4

Winter 2016 Contents

  • 'Christmas with Dan Dare' - a look at how the Christmas festival was recognised, represented and (sometimes) ignored in 'Dan Dare - Pilot of the Future' strips in Eagle and Eagle Annual 
  • 'Martin Aitchison (1919-2016)' - An illustrated short obituary of the artist of 'Luck of the Legion' in Eagle, who became one of Ladybird Books most respected and prolific artists
  • 'PC 49 and the Case of the Tramp's Secret' - a festive PC49 story, based on a story created for radio by Alan Stranks
  • 'A Christmas Wordsearch' - a puzzle, based on Eagle's Christmas issue, 25th December, 1965
  • 'Chicko and Christmas' - Christmas appearances of Norman Thelwell's strip cartoon character, who would appear for twelve years in Eagle and Eagle Annual
  • 'He Tried to Stop You Reading Eagle' - an adjunct to the series, 'They Helped to Bring You Eagle', this first part of the story of Leonard Matthews, General Managing Editor of Fleetway, covers his early career editing Sun, Comet and Knockout for Amalgamated Press, and originating Top Spot
  • 'The Jetex Dan Dare Space Ship' - on the "Tailored" spaceship model, first marketed as the  Dan Dare Space Ship, which was designed for Wilmot, Mansour & Co. Ltd by Peter Cock in 1953/4, powered by a Jetex 5 oz thrust rocket motor  
  • 'Under the 1950s Christmas Tree' - some of the Eagle and Girl inspired items that might have been received by children as Christmas gifts in the 1950s
  • 'Howard Corn (1943-2016)' - an obituary of the originator and Editor in Chief of Eagle Times, who was also one of its major contributors
  • 'Eulogy for Howard' - the words spoken by Bob Corn at his brother Howard's funeral on 18th November 2016
  • 'In and Out of the Eagle' - some more in the series presenting collections of Eagle-related snippets
  • 'Alien Flora and Fauna in Dan Dare' - on the various plants and creatures that inhabited the worlds of Dan Dare in Eagle
  • 'Dan Dare: The Audio Adventures' - a review of the first set of Dan Dare Audio Adventures from Big Finish and B7 Media
  • 'Enlightening' - a review of the exhibition on comics which is at the Lightbox Gallery in Woking, Surrey, from October to the end of December, 2016, and the talk given by Frank Hampson's son, Peter, on 8th October
  • 'Eric MacKenzie (c.1949-2015) - on the man who started the Dan Dare Club, through a letter to Eagle published in 1964 and would later produce the 'Dan Dire' parody in Comic Media News International in the 1970s and from 2004, in Spaceship Away.
  • 'Remembering All Treens Must Die!' - a relook at 'Dan Dare' strip drawn by Keith Watson that ran in Eagle from June - October, 1964
  • 'Children's Annuals of the 1970s' - a look at some of the children's annuals published in the 1970s, after Eagle's demise, but still in Eagle Annual's times (the original series of Eagle Annual appeared up to 1975)  
  • 'The "New" Bakehouse' - a look  at the former bakehouse that was Eagle's and Dan Dare's first studio and which has recently been renovated 
  • 'Space Quiz' - An illustrated quiz with artwork by former Dan Dare artist and writer Eric L. Eden, which originally appeared in Supercar Annual 

Monday, 5 December 2016

Dan Dare - A Brief History

Courtesy of the Big Finish site and YouTube, this short video presents a history of Dan Dare through his various incarnations, leading to today's release of Dan Dare The Audio Adventures Volume 1

There is an article about the making of the series in Big Finish's e-magazine, Vortex, issue 94, which can be downloaded from their site by clicking the image below.

Saturday, 12 November 2016

Howard Corn (1943-2016)

Howard Corn in April 2016
 The Eagle Society Gathering at Sevenoaks, Kent

It is with great sadness that we have to report the death on 2 November of Howard Corn, Editor-in-Chief of Eagle Times and one of its major contributors, at the age of 73 years. 

Howard was born in Cheshire on 23 June 1943. His father was a cattle farmer, and Howard spent the first 23 years of his life on various farms across the country, which resulted in a disrupted schooling, as the family moved from one farm to another. 

He was six years old, nearing seven, when a bright new magazine for children hit the newsstands on 14 April 1950. He read Eagle from Number 1 and, though it was not his sole interest, Eagle was destined to have a major impact on his life. Unlike most Eagle readers at the time, his favourite strip was not 'Dan Dare' but, rather, 'The Adventures of PC49'. The western strip 'Jeff Arnold in the Riders of the Range' would become another firm favourite. Both these stories had started life as radio shows, which were listened to by the young Howard Corn.

The first that many of us fellow Eagle enthusiasts knew of Howard was following his attendance at the Eagle Conference, held in London in 1980 to commemorate the 30th anniversary of the birth of Eagle. His first contribution to Eagle fan literature was 'A History of PC49' for the Eagler magazine, serialised over three issues from 1983 to 1985. In 1985 Howard hosted a mini-con for Eagle fans at his home in Northampton. There would be another in Kidderminster the following year, followed by an Eagle Dinner at Bosham in 1987, which started a tradition for Eagle Society Annual Gatherings that has continued to the present.

When Eagler announced a new magazine, Eagle Days, in 1987, Howard became Assistant Editor of the new magazine, and one of its major contributors. As well as writing under his own name Howard would write anonymously or use pen-names. Eagle Day's first issue, Spring 1986, would see the first part of 'Jeff Arnold: A History' written under the pen-name Cowhand Horn, a name chosen due to Howard's cattle farming background and his penchant for westerns. The series would appear in all seven issues of Eagle Days

Without Howard, there would have been no Eagle Times. Following the collapse of Eagle Days in 1987, Howard instigated an emergency meeting of like-minded fans at the Westminster Central Hall Comic Mart and afterwards at a nearby cafe, presenting copies of an Eagle Times pilot issue entirely produced by himself. His enthusiasm ensured that an Eagle Times editorial team was swiftly created, with Howard fully at the helm. The first Eagle Times was published in the Spring of 1988, a quarterly journal for the Eagle Society that has had a regular, unbroken run to the present. There have been some changes over the years, but the enduring factor has been Howard. Howard's dedication to Eagle Days and Eagle Times surely stands as a publishing record for fanzines. His editorial hand has been on no less than 116 issues of Eagle Times, every one of which has had more than one article written by him under his own name or one of several pen-names, including: Cowhand Horn, Harold Harpole, James Howard and Jon Johnson. He had a great knowledge of Eagle and its creators, its companion papers (Swift, Girl and Robin) and wrote about these and other 1950/60s publications, including Express Weekly, Rocket, and Lion. He was also a great ambassador for and promoter of the Eagle Society, seeking out and building links with the original contributors and creators of Eagle, and with provincial news media.

Howard showed a great commitment to others, running a youth club in his younger days (like his fictional hero, PC49) and over his lifetime, he donated enough pints to the National Blood Service to fill a milk-float. His other interests included Speedway and Grasstrack racing; he had a love of music, and would often attend Country Music festivals. He was a member of the Cambridge Comics and Story Paper Club (otherwise known as the Cambridge Old Boys' Book Club) and in the 1980s he contributed articles about cowboy movies to their publications. Until he retired from his day job, Howard was a book company representative, and travelled widely across East Anglia and South East England servicing Christian bookshops for the Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge (SPCK). 

He had been diagnosed with lung cancer earlier this year, and whilst he had informed those closest to him and the Editorial Team, it was through the letters page of Eagle Times (published at the end of September this year), that most of our readers were made aware, when he wrote "to thank all the members of the Society who sent me get well cards and best wishes after I was was diagnosed with lung cancer." He was optimistic, as he expressed his appreciation for the thoughts and prayers of members, and he remained so throughout. He described his labour of love on Eagle Times as therapeutic, and was working on it very shortly before he died. Most of the content for 2016's last issue had already been been planned by Howard, and this Christmas will see the completion of 29 years of Eagle Times. Latterley, Howard had wished to see Eagle Times reach a full 30 years of publication, and it is the intention of the Eagle Times Editorial Team to endeavour that it does.

Our sympathies go out to his family and friends, particularly his wife Rosemary, his second wife whom he married in 1992.

Sunday, 6 November 2016

Days of Future Past

The Dan Dare Radio Station, circa 1954

Here's a nice short documentary, Days of Future Past, featuring the Dan Dare Radio Station.

It was made by Larry Hall, who takes "a look at a piece of iconic Dan Dare memorabilia. This is the Dan Dare Radio Station, manufactured in or around 1954 by Randalls under their Merit brand. Although it has Dan Dare likenesses and logos on it, there's some doubt as to whether it was officially sanctioned by the Eagle, the magazine that published the adventures of Dan Dare, Pilot Of The Future, and drawn initially by Frank Hampson".

And here's the link to Larry's original post on YouTube

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 

Friday, 1 July 2016

Eagle Times Vol 29 No 2

Summer 2016 Contents

  • 'The Adventures of Tintin: King Ottokar's Sceptre' - a comparison of three editions of Herge's picture strip story: the 1947 book by Casterman of Paris, its first publication in English in Eagle in 1950, and the later edition, by Methuen (in a different translation) in 1958
  • 'Man of Courage' - part 2, concluding an examination of Eagle's strip about the life of St. Vincent de Paul, and its "mystery" writer, Francis Dickson, alias "R.B. Saxe"
  • 'Dan Dare Storyboard 1950' - on a recently acquired original board for one of the Dan Dare film strips based on the first Venus story and produced in the 1950s by Martin Lucas Ltd as part of their Mini Cine range
  • 'PC49 and the Case of the Purple Holdall' - the latest Eagle Times adaptation of a PC49 radio story, originally written by Alan Stranks
  • 'The Devil's Henchmen' - an examination of the seven-episode black-and white western strip that appeared in Eagle in 1962, drawn by the former 'Riders of the Range' artist, Frank Humphris
  • 'As Drawn by Ashwell Wood: Some Dan Dare Era Spaceships' - on the space-related artwork of Leslie Ashwell Wood, Eagle's most prolific cutaway artist, featuring work from Eagle (1954), the Dan Dare Spacebook (1952) and his Inside Information series (1970)
  • 'Eagle's Special Investigator Macdonald "Mac" Hastings' - on the life of Eagle's well-known journalist, whose written works outside Eagle included a series of mystery novels featuring an investigator called Montague Cork
  • 'From Ruislip to Troy' - a look at the long and varied career of the former 'Garth' artist, Martin Asbury
  • 'The Eagle Society Annual Gathering 2016' - a report on the Society's visit to Donnington Manor Hotel in Sevenoaks, Kent, where the theme was 'Great Lives of Eagle', and visits were made to Chartwell (Winston Churchill's former home) and Quebec House, Westerham (former home of General James Wolfe)
  • 'In and Out of the Eagle': some more episodes in the series presenting collections of Eagle-related snippets
  • 'They Helped to Bring You Eagle: No. 2 Bruce Smith' - the layout artist and creative letter-heading artist, who worked on Eagle in the 1960s
  • 'Rivals of Jeff Arnold: Tex Ritter' - the cowboy singer and film star, who featured in comic books published by Fawcett and Charlton Comics

Wednesday, 23 March 2016

Eagle Times Vol 29 No 1

Spring 2016 Contents

  • 'Dan's Dates' - not about Dan Dare's romantic dalliances(!) but rather about the chronology of the stories as told by Frank Hampson in the 1950's Eagle
  • 'Man of Courage' - an examination of Eagle's strip about the life of St. Vincent de Paul, and its "mystery" writer, Francis Dickson, alias "R.B. Saxe"
  • 'The Platinum Planet' - remembrance of the Dan Dare story, written by Eric Eden and drawn by Don Harley and Bruce Cornwell, which appeared in Eagle in 1961
  • 'Vengeance Trail' - an examination of the western strip that replaced 'Riders of the Range' in Eagle in 1962 and was based on Flaming Irons, a novel by Max Brand
  • 'In and Out of the Eagle': some more episodes in the series presenting collections of Eagle-related snippets
  • 'PC49 and the Case of the Gypsy's Warning': part 3, concluding the latest Eagle Times adaptation of a PC49 radio story, originally written by Alan Stranks
  • 'Eagle and Chocolate' - a history of chocolate, its manufacture in Britain and the firms that advertised their products in Eagle
  • 'The Gay Corinthian': concluding a comparison of the Eagle's (1961-62) reprint/adaptation of the 1924 novel by Ben Bolt with its earlier (June 1953) comic-strip adaptation in Thriller Comics
  • 'Dan Dare Rocket and Space Ship Builder Sets - The Meccano Connection': continuing an article on the construction sets produced in the 1950s, this time taking a look at those produced by MOKO
  • 'Eagle Miscellany or pieces picked up' - a collection of short notes of Eagle history, gathered from various sources, including the recollections of the late Derek Lord, a former editor of Eagle
  • 'Nelson' - taking a look at aspects of the life of Lord Nelson not mentioned in Eagle's picture-strip version of his life, 'The Great Sailor'
  • 'Dan Dare: The 2000 AD Years, Volume 1' - a review of the recently published collection of Dan Dare reprints from the 1970's 2000AD comic
  • 'Radio Echoes' - on the on-line availability of pre-Eagle episodes from the BBC radio series The Adventures of PC49
  • 'Silver Eagler of the Year 1954' - Wyndham Rees writes about the "big fuss" made of him by Marcus Morris and Eagle, after being awarded Silver Eagler of the Year
  • 'A Vague Resemblance' - a reader speculates the influence of the 1955 film This Island Earth, and Dan Dare's 1956 adventure 'Rogue Planet'
  • 'Waldof and Cecil' - a look at the popular pair of cartoon characters that appeared in strips in Eagle Annual  but never actually appeared in the weekly magazine

This issue's cover features opening frames from Frank Hampson's first Dan Dare story (written in 1950), depicting events in the (then) future 1996