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 several 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.

Gerald Haylock, who had drawn Knights of the Road and The Guinea Pig  for EAGLE, drew the Doctor Who strip in Countdown and TV Action comics 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.

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.     

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). 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.

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 Eagle's 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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