The above frame is from Operation Triceratops, the Dan Dare story in Eagle Annual Number Four, published in 1954. It features a character called Sir Nigel Tawny, who engages Dan’s services to transport a Venusian triceratops to his Zoo on the Isle of Wight. This story marks his only appearance in the Dan Dare saga, but remarkably the character went on to have a notable career in comics! In 1958 his adventures as an explorer provided the front page lead strip in Zip! comic and Sir Nigel’s adventures ran until 1962, moving into Swift when it absorbed Zip! in 1959.
The strip was written by John B. Myers and drawn by ‘Redvers Blake’, who was really Harry Winslade. Of course, Sir Nigel in the Dan Dare story is much older than his namesake in Zip! but he should be, as Operation Triceratops is set in the early twenty first century, whereas the Nigel Tawny strip begins in the late fifties. An explorer from that time, whose adventures sometimes involved unusual animals – as in the story shown above, might well become President of the Interplanetary Zoo after he retired. The pictures of him are not dissimilar when this is borne in mind, even though one was drawn by Harold Johns and the other by Winslade. So how did a minor character from a Dan Dare story become a star in his own right? The answer lies with John Myers who also wrote Operation Triceratops. As we know, Frank Hampson called upon several various writers to help with the Dan Dare strip before Alan Stranks became the regular scriptwriter and this was the case with the annual stories. As Sir Nigel was such a minor character in Dan Dare he presumably saw no copyright problems in using the character’s name again. When Zip! began the Nigel Tawny strip, its publisher, Odhams did not own the rights for Eagle, only acquiring them the following year.