WELCOME

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.

Friday, 12 October 2018

EAGLE TIMES AUTUMN 2018 Vol. 31 No.3

The new EAGLE TIMES is out now and it is a strong, varied and interesting issue.



LOOK OUT FOR:

EAGLE's Extended Family by Jeremy Briggs
. The Seth and Shorty western strip by Joe Hoole
. Jeremy Briggs' review of A Concise Guide to EAGLE Plastic Kits by David Welsh
. Charles Chilton and the Indian Wars by David Britton
. The Dan Dare adventure The Big City Caper by Andrew Coffey
. Another Glimpse inside the workings of EAGLE by David Britton
. Space Fiction Movies by Will Grenham
. Alfred the Great by Steve Winders
. Another In and Out of the EAGLE by Jim Duckett
. A new Archie Willoughby story: The Case of the Vanishing Police Box by Steve Winders

Sunday, 7 October 2018

THE MAN WHO DREW DAN DARE

EXHIBITION REPORT BY DAVID BRITTON

A reception was held on Thursday evening 20th September at the Atkinson Art Gallery in Lord St. Southport, to launch three new exhibitions that all have a local relevance. The one of particular interest to our readers is dedicated to “The Man Who Drew Dan Dare”, an exhibition marking the 100th Anniversary of the birth of Frank Hampson and his life’s work. The evening was opened by Stephen Whittle, Principal Manager at the Atkinson, who gave a brief background to each of the exhibitions and introduced Peter Hampson as guest speaker for Frank Hampson’s exhibition. 

Peter then related the story behind Frank’s career commencing with his demobilisation from the Army and the attendance at Southport College of Art. On leaving the College he was initially involved in producing commercial work for advertising and did illustrations for “Anvil”, Marcus Morris’ local church magazine that was later taken up by the Anglican Church. When Marcus decided to embark on his mission to create a comic or magazine to compete effectively with the gratuitous, pulp comics that were flooding the country from America, setting a higher moral standard yet appealing to children with an exciting product, he collaborated with Frank and EAGLE was born.  Shortly after Jocelyn Thomas, Greta Tomlinson and Joan Porter joined them at the Bakehouse, 22, Botanic Road, Churchtown. The Bakehouse has been restored recently and has a plaque honouring those who worked there in the early days of EAGLE.  Joan remained Frank’s assistant right through to the end.


Peter talked about the move to Epsom, the development of the studio at Bayford Lodge and of the humour that accompanied the hard work and weekly deadlines. That was followed by the unhappy departure from Odham’s , The Road of Courage for EAGLE , working for Ladybird books, more commercial work, such as an advertising strip series for the National Coal Board and finally the North East Surrey College of Technology (NESCOT) where he taught and worked.

The exhibition is really very well laid out and has examples of Frank’s work from the very beginning, with some beautifully executed pencil sketches and work in pen and ink. It continues through the early work on Dan Dare, illustrated by pages from the start of The First Venus Story, later episodes, pencil roughs and ending with post-EAGLE illustration for Ladybird books, a period that Peter described as a very happy one after the trauma of the final years with Odham’s. One of the highlights is some original pages for “The Road of Courage”, which for many represents the pinnacle of Frank’s output. Peter also pointed out the fact that Frank loved to put lots of detail into the background of his frames. This is apparent throughout his work.

The recognition that Frank received in Lucca in 1975 - The Yellow Kid  and his award of the title 'Prestigio Maestro' - the Best Comic Book Artist Since the Second World War, were also on display. 

Overall, the evening was a great success, although attendance may have been curtailed by a disastrous night of bad weather, with high winds and very heavy rain, as the tail of Storm Bronagh passed Southport. We were graced however by the presence of Frank’s sister Margaret, currently 91 years of age and her daughter Tina and son-in-law Les, as well as Peter’s wife Sue.

The exhibition runs until 16th March 2019 and is a must for all EAGLE, Dan Dare and Frank Hampson fans.





Monday, 17 September 2018

IN AND OUT OF THE EAGLE 7

WITH JIM DUCKETT


You don’t tend to bump into people called Horatio every day, but no less than three Horatios featured in their own strips in Eagle. First was John Ryan’s Captain Horatio Pugwash, who appeared from the first issue until the nineteenth in 1950. The next was the real life Horatio Nelson, who was featured in the back page serial The Great Sailor in 1956-57 and finally there was C.S. Forester’s fictional naval hero, Horatio Hornblower, whose adventures were adapted for Eagle in 1962-63. Of course all these Horatios are linked by the sea and all captained ships at some time in their lives. Nelson was one of Britain’s greatest heroes of the Napoleonic wars and Eagle included no less than three fictional strips set during this period. Only the wild west and contemporary times were featured more. First was Jack O’Lantern, about a young boy in the later years of the conflict, which ran in Eagle from 1955-60. Then came the already mentioned Hornblower stories and finally in 1964, Johnny Frog, about another young boy, this time set around the time of the Battle of Trafalgar. Both Jack O’Lantern and Johnny Frog were written by George Beardmore.    

Staying with the sea, Eagle forged strong links with the aircraft carrier H.M.S. Eagle, including featuring her as a cutaway drawing. H.M.S. Eagle was launched in 1946 and was the fifteenth Royal Navy ship to bear the name. Commissioned in 1951 she saw war service during the Suez Crisis of 1956. After service all over the world, she had an extensive refit in 1959 and another in 1966, finally being withdrawn from service in 1972. She was subsequently moored in the River Tamar, where she was held in reserve until 1976, although she was stripped for essential parts needed by H.M.S. Ark Royal. She was finally scrapped in 1978. I was lucky enough to see the ship’s brass name plate on a visit to the Royal Naval Dockyard Museum at Devonport a few years ago and one of her anchors can be seen at the entrance to the Fleet Air Arm Museum at Yeovilton.

FRANK HAMPSON EXHIBITION

A major exhibition of Frank Hampson's work began this weekend at the Atkinson Arts Centre in Southport. The official opening is on Thursday September 20th and the exhibition will run until March 2019. Original Dan Dare artwork is on display as well as models and film of Frank's studio. Original art from his Ladybird books and his Road of Courage strip is also displayed.

Wednesday, 12 September 2018

IN AND OUT OF THE EAGLE 6

WITH JIM DUCKETT



It’s a sobering thought but the first recorded Dan Dare adventure was set at least thirty years ago! This was Moon Run in the EAGLE Annual for 1961, which includes Dan’s first meeting with Digby and consequently must take place before the Mars 1988 story which was featured in the 1952 Annual where Dan and Digby already know each other. Born in 1967, Dan would now be fifty one, although having spent the best part of a decade in suspended animation, travelling to and from Cryptos, he would now effectively be about forty. With his return in 2012 and the Mekon’s invasion of Earth defeated, by 2016 the Pescod threat would probably be over too and by now Dan and friends may well be involved in the Terra Nova adventure, meaning we’ve reached the end of the Frank Hampson era in real time! At least Frank Bellamy, Don Harley, Eric Eden, Keith Watson and David Motton’s work should keep us going for a few more years, but none of us will be around in 2177 when Dan is revived with a new face for his 2000 A.D. adventures!

Most sobering of all though is the fact that in our version of reality, the possibility of a colony on Mars as depicted in Mars 1988 is still many years away. We have yet to land a man on the planet. But to end on a happier note, at least we aren’t likely to be invaded by robots controlled by intelligent reptiles from Venus any time soon, either.         

Tuesday, 11 September 2018

IN AND OUT OF THE EAGLE 5

WITH JIM DUCKETT 





When EAGLE began, radio was still king and two of its most popular strips originated as BBC radio series. PC 49 began in 1947 and 112 half hour adventures of the London policeman, played by Brian Reece, were made before the programme ended in 1953. PC 49’s adventures began in the first issue of EAGLE and ran until 1957. The radio adventures of Riders of the Range, featuring Paul Carpenter as Jeff Arnold, began in 1949 and six serials were broadcast between 1949 and 1953, with the EAGLE version beginning in December 1950 and running till March 1962. Unlike strip versions of later television series in other comics, which were invariably notably inferior to their originals, the EAGLE versions of both these radio series compared most favourably, probably because they were written by their creators and illustrated by excellent artists in John Worsley and Frank Humphris, who made the strips their own. Their success is evidenced by the fact that both outlasted their radio counterparts by several years.

Of the characters who were specially created for EAGLE, Dan Dare featured in a hugely successful series of radio serials on Radio Luxembourg between 1951 and 1955, where he was played by Noel Johnson, who had originated the popular Dick Barton character in 1947, for BBC radio. The BBC produced their own four part Dan Dare serial in 1990 to mark EAGLE'S fortieth anniversary, which featured Mick Brown as Dan and Donald Gee as Digby. In 1954, EAGLE began its own promotional programme on Radio Luxembourg, called Spread Your Wings and this featured a six part Luck of the Legion serial, narrated by Norman Shelley as an old legionnaire. Sergeant Luck also appeared on the commercial Springbok Radio in South Africa in 1979 in his own series, written by his creator Geoffrey Bond, twenty years after the strip ended in EAGLE.  

Monday, 10 September 2018

IN AND OUT OF THE EAGLE 4


WITH JIM DUCKETT

Eagle turns up in some unexpected places. In Simon Bartram’s children’s picture story book Man on The Moon, first published in 2002, set partly on the Moon and partly on an Earth highly reminiscent of the 1950s, the hero ‘Bob’, who travels daily to the Moon to show visitors round is shown with a copy of Eagle on his bed as he sleeps at the end of a busy day. The book proved a great success, winning the Blue Peter Book of the Year Award in 2004 and inspiring two picture book sequels and a series of story books about the character for older children.
  

Wednesday, 22 August 2018

IN AND OUT OF THE EAGLE 3

WITH JIM DUCKETT



The first character created for EAGLE to feature in a television series was Anthony Buckeridge's Rex Milligan, who appeared in a series of six plays on BBC television in 1956, repeated in 1957. Buckeridge's more famous creation Jennings also appeared on television, but the character was not created for EAGLE. In 1957, John Ryan's Captain Pugwash, who ironically had not proved popular in the weekly, first appeared on BBC television, with the most recent new series being produced in 1998 and a live action film now being planned!
Another television series that emerged from EAGLE was Peter Ling's popular school text serials about The Three 'J' s, which were made by the ITV company Associated Rediffusion in 1958, when Peter was Head of Children's Serials. Two serials were broadcast in fortnightly episodes. They were Trouble at Northbrook, which lasted five episodes and Northbrook Holiday, which ran for six. Unfortunately neither of these serials survive.
Many readers will recall seeing Dan Dare in a CGI series on Channel Five in 2002. Originally produced by Netter Digital, who went bankrupt during production, the series was completed by Foundation Imaging. There were several unsuccessful attempts to produce a live action Dan Dare series, but Dan and Digby, played by Niven Boyd and Jimmy Yule were featured in several TV advertisements for Mobil Oil in 1987.

Thursday, 26 July 2018

IN AND OUT OF THE EAGLE 2

WITH JIM DUCKETT


                   

The first three adventures from B7 Media's Dan Dare audio productions are to be broadcast on B.B.C. Radio Four Extra next month. The series stars Ed Stoppard as Dan, Geoff McGivern as Digby and Heida Reed as Professor Peabody. This will be the third version of Dan's adventures to feature on radio. Between 1951 and 1955, Radio Luxembourg broadcast Dan Dare serials in fifteen minute episodes, five nights every week. Noel Johnson, who had played Dick Barton in the B.B.C.'s popular adventure serials, played Dan and John Sharp played Digby. In 1990, to celebrate the fortieth anniversary of Dan and EAGLE, the B.B.C. produced a four part serial which dramatised Dan's first adventure from EAGLE. This serial starred Mick Brown as Dan and Donald Gee as Digby.    

Wednesday, 25 July 2018

IN AND OUT OF THE EAGLE (1)

WITH JIM DUCKETT 
  
Eagle Times features a regular column called In and Out of the EAGLE and we are going to feature some of these to give a flavour of the magazine's content. 

Basil Dawson’s original EAGLE novel Dan Dare on Mars is well remembered by fans, but in 1977 the New English Library published a paperback adaptation of part of Frank Hampson’s first Venus story. The book was written by Angus P. Allan, a prolific comic strip writer, who contributed to TV Century 21 and became the principal writer for Look In, another comic based on television characters. He never contributed to EAGLE, but his father was Carney Allan, who wrote the wartime adventure strip Mann of Battle, which ran in EAGLE from 1962 - 64. The novel ends with Dan’s rescue of his friends from Mekonta and the Dapon’s sacrifice in destroying the Mekon’s Telezero ships, leaving out the Treens’ visit to Earth and the eventual defeat of the Mekon. Several frames from the original strip were used to illustrate the book, but reprinted in black and white.

1977 was a good year for Dan and EAGLE, for there was also Marcus Morris’ The Best of EAGLE, which reprinted extracts from many strips and features from the first decade of the weekly. Dan himself was revived for 2000A.D. comic, although in a much altered form, which did not please many of his old fans. The reason for this renewed interest was Frank Hampson’s Yellow Kid Award presented to him at an international convention of strip cartoon and animated film artists in Lucca, Italy, just two years earlier, when he was voted the best writer and artist of strip cartoons since the war by a jury of his peers. This awakened interest in him and in Dan Dare by the British press.


Sunday, 15 July 2018

Eagle Times Vol 31 No 2


Summer 2018 Contents
  • 'Charles Chilton & the Indian Wars' - The 1st part of an in-depth series dealing with Native Americans and how they were interpreted in Riders of the Range.
  • ‘Thoughts on Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’ – Thoughts on the life of the famous author and his only story to appear in the Eagle, The Lost World.
  • ‘Newly Discovered Dan Dare Reference Material’ – A couple of examples of newly discovered Dan Dare concept sketches.
  • ‘The Eagle Society Annual Gathering 2018’ – A fun and in-depth report of the dinner.  All the talks and activities are covered with plenty of photographs.  This year it was held at the Hilton in Leicester.
  • ‘Dundee: Venue for the Eagle Society Dinner 2019’ – This article gives us a flavour of what the city will be able to offer the Eagle Society during their visit next year.  It mentions a number of the major attractions that will be available.
  • ‘Connaught Racing Cars: 1948 to 1957’ – An article on the Connaught company and how the Connaught B-Type centre spread fuelled a passion in the author for their cars.
  • 'In and Out of the Eagle' - more instalments in the series that presents Eagle-related snippets
  • 'Space Fiction Movies in Eagle's Times' part 5 - continuing a look at films about space exploration and alien visitations to the earth, the bread-and-butter of the Eagle's Dan Dare adventures between 1950 and 1969. This part covers 1963-65 and includes (among others) Ikarie XB-1, The Day Mars Invaded Earth, First Men in the Moon, Unearthly Stranger and Ghidorah the Three Headed Monster.
  • ‘The Case of the Educated Archie – Part 2’ - an Adventure of Archie Berkeley-Willoughby of Scotland Yard. A new story inspired by the character created by Alan Stranks for his radio show P.C.49
  • ‘Whatever Happened to My Ten Percent’ – The text from one of the most anticipated fun talks of this years Eagle Society dinner.  It wonderfully covers various topics including King Richard III being found in Leicester, is humankind actually regressing and many more.


Saturday, 31 March 2018

Eagle Times Vol 31 No 1

Spring 2018 Contents
  • 'H. Rider Haggard's King Solomon's Mines from the Novel to the Strip That Never Was' - The story of the book and its various adaptations as motion pictures and comics, including the three pages of artwork produced for Eagle by Frank Bellamy, for a strip destined not to be published'
  • Eagle Centre Spreads' - featuring vehicles that were also produced as Dinky Toys. In this issue: The Hillman Minx, drawn by Leslie Ashwell Wood (Eagle 8th Dec, 1950) and the Austin Healey 100, drawn by Hubert Redmill (Eagle, 8th Jan, 1954).
    • 'The Lost Opportunities of Those Early Dan Dare Stories' - on the incidental "hooks" and loose-ends in Frank Hampson's 'Dare Dare' strip, and where they might have led
    • 'The Bidding War for the 1963 Dan Dare Annual' - recollections of a school for-charity auction which tested the friendship of two schoolboys as, in 1964, they bid as rivals for the previous year's Dan Dare Annual
    • 'U.S.A. Post Marks - Eagle Connection' - a couple of naming coincidences collected as postal covers: Kingfisher OK and Peabody MA
    • 'In and Out of the Eagle' - more instalments in the series that presents Eagle-related snippets
    • 'Flint of the Flying Squad' - on another series of police stories by P.C.49 author Alan Stranks, which also began as a BBC radio series and then went to comic strip, in this case in the Daily Express
    • 'George Davies and His Eagle Connections' - on the 'Flint of the Flying Squad' artist and his connections with Eagle contributors Alan Stranks, Jack Daniel and Guy Morgan
    • 'Invasion: Earth' - a review of a six-part mini-series co-produced in 1998 by the BBC and the SciFi Channel, which "captured the feel of classic British SF". 
    • 'How Does it Compare to other Concept Cities?' -  On the Venusian city of Mekonta, which was first drawn by Frank Hampson for Eagle 21st July 1950, and other concept cities, both real and imaginary.
    • The Case of the Educated Archie - an Adventure of Archie Berkeley-Willoughby of Scotland Yard. A new story inspired by the character created by Alan Stranks for his radio show P.C.49
    • 'Gerald Palmer, 1935-2017' - On the former Eagle artist Gerald Palmer, who died in August 2017, and is remembered by former Eagle readers for his work on 'Dan Dare' as well as his cutaway drawings.    
    • 'Space Fiction Movies in Eagle's Times' part 5 - continuing a look at films about space exploration and alien visitations to the earth, the bread-and-butter of the Eagle's Dan Dare adventures between 1950 and 1969. This part covers 1960-62 and includes (among others) Assignment Outer Space, Battle of the Worlds, The Day of the Triffids and Planeta Bur (Planet of Storms)
    • 'He Who Dares. Titan's new min-series - a pilot for the future?' - a review of the four part Dan Dare comic series from Titan comics, published monthly from Oct 2017 - Jan 2018, and which is to be published in "graphic novel" form in April, 2018