Tuesday, 28 January 2020

IN AND OUT OF THE EAGLE 18


EAGLE has a surprising number of connections with Doctor Who. In the 1965 film Doctor Who and the Daleks, based on the original TV serial from 1964, Peter Cushing as the Doctor is shown reading a copy of EAGLE. Interviewed some years later by Chris Kelly for the Clapperboard television show, Peter said that he had been a regular reader of EAGLE. 

In the mid sixties, three Dalek annuals were produced by Souvenir Press. The colour strips in these annuals and the covers were illustrated by Richard Jennings, a long time contributor to EAGLE, who had drawn the Storm Nelson and Tommy Walls strips. The former Dan Dare artist Bruce Cornwell also drew strips for the first two annuals. Jennings also drew a set of Dalek sweet cigarette cards in 1964 and was the first artist to draw the Dalek weekly strip for TV Century 21 comic, beginning in January 1965. Eric Eden, another Dan Dare artist (and writer), also drew this strip.

David Motton, who wrote the Dan Dare strip between 1962 and 1966, wrote several Doctor Who scripts for TV Comic in 1965 and two stories for the Doctor Who Annual 1967. Another EAGLE contributor, Pat Williams, who drew Cavendish Brown M.S. and many factual strips for the weekly, drew several Doctor Who strips for TV Comic Holiday Specials and two for TV Comic Annual 1968. He also drew a set of colour picture cards (and the cover for the picture card album) to be given free with Wall's Sky Ray ice lollies in 1968. As Wall's were not licenced to use the actor Patrick Troughton's image as the Doctor, Williams had to create a new likeness for the character. John M. Burns, who drew Wrath of the Gods in the original EAGLE, as well as The Fists of Danny Pike, Dolebusters and a Dan Dare adventure in the 1980s EAGLE, drew a Doctor Who strip for the TV Comic Annual 1976 and a Doctor Who Marvel Comic book The Age of Chaos in 1994. In this book he worked with Barrie Mitchell, who had drawn The Circus Wanderers and Lightning Strikes Back in the final months of the original EAGLE.

Harry Lindfield, who had drawn Mark Question for EAGLE drew Doctor Who for Countdown comic in 1970, before Gerald Haylock, who had drawn Knights of the Road and The Guinea Pig for EAGLE took over. He drew the strip between 1971 and 1973. Dan Dare's creator Frank Hampson produced a large colour illustration for the Radio Times Doctor Who Tenth Anniversary Special in 1973 and Frank Bellamy, who had illustrated Dan Dare and Heros the Spartan for EAGLE, drew many short strip extracts from TV episodes of Doctor Who for the Radio Times in the mid seventies. Jim Baikie, who drew the Dan Dare strip for the 1974 EAGLE Annual and would later draw Bloodfang for the 1980s EAGLE and a Doomlord strip for the 1985 EAGLE Annual, drew several illustrations for Doctor Who text stories for Countdown and TV Action Holiday Specials in the early seventies and Doctor Who strips for their annuals.

Dave Gibbons moved from drawing Dan Dare for 2000 A.D. comic in 1979 to draw Doctor Who for the first 69 issues of Doctor Who Magazine. The first story he drew was written by Pat Mills and John Wagner, who would later work on the first Dan Dare story for the 1980s EAGLE. Pat Mills contributed a story called The Song of the Space Whale for the Doctor Who TV series in 1982, but it was never produced as Mills and the programme's script editor Eric Saward could not agree on certain elements of the story. It was later produced as a Big Finish audio production in 2010 (retitled The Song of Megaptera) and Mills has subsequently written more Doctor Who stories for this range.

Andrew Skilleter, a founder member of the Dan Dare Club from which our current society eventually emerged, illustrated forty nine covers from 1979 for the Target novelisations of Doctor Who adventures from the television series. He also illustrated Doctor Who VHS covers, calendars, prints and the cover of the Radio Times which featured the Five Doctors anniversary special in 1983. He set up the Who Dares publishing company in 1983, to publish Doctor Who related material, but he also published Alastair Crompton's book about Frank Hampson The Man Who Drew Tomorrow and the name of his company links Dan and the Doctor. He assisted Keith Watson on two Dan Dare adventures for the 1980s EAGLE, colouring one and colouring and partly inking the other. Keith himself, who worked on the Dan Dare strip in both the original EAGLE and the 1980s version, produced a full page illustration for David Banks' book about the Cybermen from Doctor Who in 1990, that was published by Who Dares. Andrew Skilleter also contributed illustrations for this publication. Grant Morrison wrote several Doctor Who stories for Marvel's Doctor Who Magazine in 1986, before writing a Dan Dare serial for Revolver magazine in 1990 - 91.  

There was almost a huge link between Dan Dare and Doctor Who in the 1990s when Colin Baker, who played the sixth Doctor, played Digby in a short audio drama made by some of the team who would later form Big Finish Productions, who have made officially licensed Doctor Who audios since 1999, in addition to adaptations of Judge Dredd and Strontium Dog from 2000 A.D. weekly and audio versions of lost Avengers TV episodes, among other productions. The short Dan Dare drama was made with the hope of getting financial support for a professionally produced serial, but it was not to be. The drama was written by Nicholas Briggs, who provides the voices for both the Daleks and the Cybermen in Big Finish and B.B.C. Television Doctor Who stories. It also featured David Banks, author of the Cybermen book, who had played the Cyber Leader in the highly regarded Doctor Who TV adventure Earthshock, as Dan Dare and Nicholas Courtney, who had played Brigadier Lethbridge Stewart, one of the Doctor's best known companions in the TV series, played Sir Hubert Guest. Colin Baker is a self confessed fan of Dan Dare and EAGLE, despite being teased at school because he had the same name as a principal character in EAGLE's long running text series The Three 'J's. His predecessor as the Doctor, Peter Davison was also a boyhood fan of EAGLE, revealing his enthusiasm in the first issue of the 1980s version. Big Finish Productions eventually linked up with Dan Dare when they handled the distribution of B7 Media's Dan Dare audio dramas from 2016 onwards.

John Ridgway drew a four part Dan Dare strip for the new EAGLE in 1990 and one for the Dan Dare Holiday Special the same year. He drew many Doctor Who strips for the Doctor Who Magazine between 1984 and 1993 and in 1991 he contributed a page to the Comic Relief Comic in which Dan Dare and Digby met all the Doctors to date (up to and including Paul Mc Gann's portrayal). Another artist who also contributed to Doctor Who strips in the Magazine was Colin Andrew, who had drawn Home of the Wanderers, The Guinea Pig and several factual strips for EAGLE in the 1960s. John Freeman, who edited the Doctor Who Magazine between 1990 and 1992, contributing to several Doctor Who strips, wrote two Dan Dare adventures that appeared in Spaceship Away magazine in 2011 and 2017 and was employed as creative consultant on B7 Media's Dan Dare audio series in 2016. Graham Bleathman has produced many Dan Dare related cutaways and other illustrations for Spaceship Away and a Haynes Manual of spacecraft from Dan Dare adventures. He also illustrated background scenes for the DVD cartoon release of the lost Doctor Who serial The Macra Terror, released in 2019. Martin Baines, who drew some Dan Dare strips and illustrations for early issues of Spaceship Away, has subsequently illustrated several covers for the Lethbridge Stewart series of books about the Doctor's popular companion. He has also illustrated covers for Reeltime Pictures Doctor Who related DVDs releases, the cover of a book about Doctor Who films published by Telos and is soon to illustrate a forthcoming book about Doctor Who objects for Candy Jar Books. He has recently illustrated a Dan Dare cover for Comic Scene magazine to mark Dan's seventieth anniversary.

In addition to John Ridgway's page for the Comic Relief Comic, there is one other occasion where the Doctor has met a version of  Dan Dare. This was in the Doctor Who New Adventures novel The Dying Days, published in 1997 and written by Lance Parkin. Here the eighth Doctor (as portrayed by Paul McGann) meets a space hero called Alex Christian, which is an early name created by Marcus Morris for the character who Frank Hampson would develop into Dan Dare.

But one EAGLE contributor actually wrote a televised Doctor Who adventure. This was Peter Ling, creator of the previously mentioned Three 'J's text serials, who wrote the 1968 story The Mind Robber for Patrick Troughton's Doctor. Additionally it has often been claimed that Terry Nation's first Dalek story for Doctor Who was heavily influenced by Frank Hampson's first Dan Dare story for EAGLE and Kit Pedler, the co-creator of the Cybermen actually stated that they were inspired by Frank Hampson's Treens.    

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