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, 23 December 2020

EAGLE TIMES Vol. 33 No.4

The Christmas EAGLE Times is out now. Featuring articles on Riders of the Range, Christmas in EAGLE, Frank Hampson and Norman Williams' Great Adventurer strip, the Pay Rates for the Christmas 1958 issue of EAGLE's companion paper Girl and the recent EAGLE Exhibition at the Atkinson Gallery in Southport, it runs to 54 pages.
The magazine is published four times a year and the subscription for 2021 will remain at £30 for the four issues (£45 for overseas subscribers). Published on March 31st, June 30th, September 30th and December 14th. They will be available from Bob Corn, Wellcroft Cottage, Wellcroft, Ivinghoe, Leighton Buzzard, Bedfordshire LU7 9EF.   


Sunday, 13 December 2020


 EAGLE and its creation DAN DARE launched in the City of London at Shoe Lane seventy years agoOn Wednesday January 6th from 2-3 p.m. Lester Hillman will explore the phenomenon of DAN DARE and how links to real and fictional astronauts have been at the very heart of the City and its institutions. The online talk will be available on Zoom, but viewers will need to book.

The best way to book is to visit the Guildhall Library events site at Guildhall Library Events | Eventbrite

Thursday, 10 December 2020


In 1987, Mel Smith and Kim Wilde, credited as 'Mel and Kim' as a parody of the popular sister act of that name, recorded a cover version of Brenda Lee's 1958 song Rockin' Around the Christmas Tree to raise money for Comic Relief  charities. It reached Number Three in the U.K. Christmas charts and was accompanied by a video that is still regularly shown on television at Christmas time. The video features a Christmas party which includes someone wearing a Mekon head (see above), but where does the head come from? Frank Hampson used many models in his studio back in the 1950s and a Treen mask was featured in a Pathe News film about the studio made in 1956 (see below). However this mask was clearly not the sculpted head used in the video and although Frank used papier-mache head models, such as one of Lero the Crypt from The Man From Nowhere strip, there was no full size Mekon head as far as we know. 
The Mekon head does not come from the launch of the 1980s EAGLE either. A ceramic sculpture by Pip Warwick was used there and the new EAGLE occasionally used a cardboard cutout of the Mekon for publicity photographs, so was the head created for the early 1980s Dan Dare TV series that was never made? A lot of groundwork was done for this series before it was cancelled. Storyboards and scripts were completed and the principal parts were cast, so it is quite possible that work had begun on props and costumes.   


Friday, 13 November 2020


A Report by Steve Winders

The above picture is a print taken from a painting of Custer's Last Stand at the Battle of the Little Bighorn by Riders of the Range artist Frank Humphris. The original painting hangs in the office of the Custer Battlefield Trading Post opposite the entrance to the battle site in Montana, where prints of the painting can be bought. I visited the Post in 2018 and was shown the original, but was unable to photograph it successfully, due to poor light in the room. Painted in 1976, a century after the battle, it may possibly be the same one included in Frank's Ladybird book Battle of the Little Bighorn (see below), also published in 1976 and  certainly developed from the same template. However there are several minor differences, such as the length of  the mounted chief's headdress on the left, the position of the 'Stars and Stripes' and the faces of some of the characters. 

Frank also illustrated a large frame of Custer’s last stand for the Riders of the Range adventure The War with the Sioux in 1957 - 58, but this featured many differences (see below). Members of the Seventh Cavalry were shown with yellow neckerchiefs, white hats and light blue trousers with a yellow seam stripe, as depicted in almost every film that featured the cavalry, but which Frank subsequently discovered were not authentic. He also showed Custer with his famous long hair, but later discovered that he had it cut shortly before the campaign! Consequently his painting and his Ladybird illustrations show him with short hair. Frank coloured the EAGLE strip with inks, which explains the bolder colours.  

The War with the Sioux was reprinted in a heavily edited version in Wham! Annual for 1972, but to fit the reconstructed page, Frank's scene of the final battle was replaced by one drawn by Frank Hampson for the front page of Swift from 1961. (See below.)

Frank wrote and illustrated the Ladybird book, which was stocked for many years at the Custer Battlefield Museum, about five miles away from the battle site, where many artefacts from the battle are on display and the book was a best seller in their shop. 
In 1954, three and a half years before The War with the Sioux appeared in EAGLE, Juvenile Publications produced a full colour Riders of the Range strip album called Jeff Arnold in the Bozeman Trail, written by the strip's creator and regular writer, Charles Chilton, which told a quite different story of Jeff Arnold and Luke's involvement in the events and the battle. This book was illustrated by Pat Williams. 
For readers interested in Riders of the Range and the strip's coverage of events in the wars with Native Americans, EAGLE Times is currently running a long series by David Britton which compares the stories with the historical events.

Sunday, 8 November 2020



A tribute by Steve Winders

Congratulations to Rupert Bear who celebrates his hundredth birthday this month. Created six years before Winnie the Pooh, nine years before Tintin, twelve years before Biggles, thirty years before Dan Dare and thirty eight years before Paddington Bear, Rupert was created by Mary Tourtel, who wrote and illustrated his adventures for the Daily Express for fifteen years, before ill health forced her to hand over to Alfred Bestall, who illustrated new stories until  1974. Other artists included Alex Cubie and John Harrold and writers included James Henderson and Ian Robinson. Currently new stories are written and illustrated by Stuart Trotter, although sadly, Rupert now only features in one new story each year, which is included in the Annual alongside repeats of past adventures. The daily strips are also repeats, drawn from the vast library of old stories. Over the years there have been three separate TV series featuring Rupert as well as a song called Rupert and the Frog Chorus by Paul McCartney, with its own animated video. The present Chairman of the Followers of Rupert, John Swan, is also a member of the EAGLE Society. A more surprising link concerns a story called Rupert and the Spaceship, produced in 1954 for a series of small paperback books called the Rupert Adventure Series, in which Rupert flies into space in a ship which bears a strong resemblance to the Kingfisher ship from the first Dan Dare story and several other ships from the strip. Rupert meets a group of friendly aliens who resemble elves and they are led by a character called Meeko! 

Saturday, 31 October 2020


Howard Smith, an authority on Frank Hampson and EAGLE, has posted a talk on You-Tube, which is available free to EAGLE Society members from November 1st until November 30th 2020. Just click on the link :                                                                                                                                                        




Thursday, 22 October 2020


The new EAGLE Times is out now. It features articles about:            

Charles Chilton and Roy Hudd 

Gerry Anderson's links with EAGLE 

The Great Adventurer strip about St. Paul             

D.C. Thomson's Told in Pictures adaptations of classic novels          

Frank Hampson's Studio Notes

The final episode of Archie Willoughby's latest adventure                  

The Indian Wars in Riders of the Range                                               

The Montgomery of Alamein strip 

Book reviews                                                                                                                 


Wednesday, 26 August 2020



Steve Holland has published two volumes of reprint strips from Swift weekly through his Bear Alley Books. They feature one of EAGLE's most popular characters from the 1960s. So who's Longbow?? You'll know him better as Blackbow, for to avoid any hint of confusion over ownership of the character who appeared in two different comics now owned by two different companies, he's been renamed for this collection. Blackbow's adventures in Swift  are owned by Look and Learn, but his stories in EAGLE aren't and Steve Holland's got permission for the Swift strips. This isn't the first time that Blackbow's changed his name. Way back in 1953 he was created as Strongbow the Mohawk for Comet weekly, but as the highly informative introduction tells us, this makes the origin story of a boy who falls from a wagon heading west in the 1840s and is raised by the Mohawks, historically and geographically nonsense, because the Mohawks were originally from New York State and long before the 1840s they'd moved to Canada, having backed the British in the War of Independence. When publishers the Mirror Group got their hands on EAGLE and Swift in 1961, they sent in their hatchet men to save money. Comet's old Strongbow strip was picked up for Swift, but became Blackbow the Cheyenne to make it historically credible. The strip was completely redrawn for Swift, but many of the old Strongbow stories were reused at first, before brand new adventures took over. The original stories were by Mike Butterworth and he probably wrote the new ones too. 

The strips from Swift were all in black and white and each instalment was a self contained adventure, most of which ran for three pages. Each volume contains thirty seven Longbow stories and ten half page information features about the Cheyenne and other Native American peoples, also from Swift. They also include biographies of all the twelve artists whose work is featured in the strips. These include Don Lawrence and Jesus Blasco, as well as EAGLE favourites Gerald Haylock, Martin Salvador and Frank Humphris, who would take over the strip when it moved into EAGLE and became a colour serial. The Swift stories were quite different from the later EAGLE adventures in other ways. For a start they were straightforward western stories whereas EAGLE brought in supernatural elements like man eating plants. EAGLE's version also distinguished more clearly between Blackbow and his European American alter ego, Doctor Jim Barnaby, where the character only assumed his Blackbow identity when he was wearing Cheyenne dress. In Swift he speaks as Blackbow in his Jim Barnaby clothes immediately prior to changing. A minor difference, but the EAGLE approach works better. The second volume has an introduction by Steve Winders, which outlines Blackbow's time in EAGLE. 

You'll find some entertaining stories and some impressive black and white art in these books and old EAGLE readers who disliked the supernatural and fantasy elements of the sixties weekly, may well prefer these stories to the later ones. The books are softback and run to 137 and 140 pages, with colour covers by Don Lawrence. These are two good books which deserve to be widely read. You can currently buy both for £29.68 including postage and packing as a special introductory offer, but they're also available separately. Full details from    www.bearalleybooks.blogspot.com    

Saturday, 8 August 2020




When the new version of EAGLE appeared in 1982 a key element was its use of strip stories composed of photographs, known as ‘fumetti’ (singular: fumetto), where the characters were played by actors and in some cases, members of the publisher Fleetway’s staff. Photo strips had proved successful in a new version of Girl launched in 1981, but those stories had been contemporary, featured ordinary people and were set in familiar surroundings. While EAGLE’s photo strips were also usually set in the present day, they were adventure stories which invariably featured characters who were anything but ordinary and in the days before widespread digital photography and computer use, this often posed significant challenges for the writers and photographers.

 The most popular and successful fumetto was Doomlord, created by John Wagner and Alan Grant and written by Grant. The two had worked closely together on Wagner’s creations Judge Dredd and Strontium Dog in 2000 A.D. The photographer was Gary Compton. Beginning in the first issue, dated March 27th 1982, it was originally intended to be a single thirteen part serial about a monstrous alien sent to Earth to ‘judge’ mankind’s suitability to protect the planet. Able to absorb the memories of people he killed, Doomlord could also change his appearance to look exactly like his victims. In his original form, Doomlord was played by an actor wearing a rubber mask and long ornate robes. In the story, he decides we are too dangerous as a species and almost succeeds in destroying us. Fortunately the selfless sacrifice of the strip’s human hero, Howard Harvey (portrayed by actor Mike Mungarvan), destroys him instead. The strip was so well received, that a sequel brought another Doomlord to Earth in a story beginning in Issue 23, dated 14th August 1982 and this one judged in favour of humanity and stayed to become our protector. However he was still utterly ruthless in pursuit of his goals. As with several stories in the new EAGLE, Doomlord raised many questions about the morality and the consequences of actions. Subsequent stories often focused on Doomlord’s efforts to force mankind to address issues like nuclear disarmament, protecting the environment and fairer distribution of wealth. The strip continued to be popular and when EAGLE discontinued photo stories, Doomlord survived as an illustrated strip, drawn initially by Heinzl and later by Eric Bradbury. It ran until 1990 when it was finally dropped in EAGLE’s last major revamp. However it soon returned in reprints when EAGLE became a monthly publication in May 1991. 

The only other fumetto from the first issue to survive beyond issue 79 when photo strips were dropped was Sergeant Streetwise, about an undercover London policeman, Sergeant Wise, who posed as an odd job man and operated from a boarding house to fight crime. Wise reported to Inspector Taggert, who pretended to be his uncle to maintain his cover and he was occasionally assisted by the incompetent Constable Botham. The strip appeared intermittently and stories were one-offs or short serials with simple and often unlikely plots. Streetwise photo stories also appeared in the EAGLE Annuals for 1983 and 1984 and the EAGLE Holiday Special in 1983. Wise was portrayed by actor and model Bill Malin, whose other credits include playing a Cyberman in Doctor Who and a vampire in the film Lifeforce. The strip was written by Gerry Finley-Day, who wrote Invasion! and several Dan Dare stories for 2000 A.D. It was photographed by Dave Watts. After a long break from the weekly it returned as an illustrated strip drawn by John Vernon in issue 97, finally ending in issue 106.

 Also beginning in the first issue was Thunderbolt and Smokey, about two boys who transform their school soccer team from a complete shambles into Schools’ Cup Finalists. Running for 27 episodes, the strip was largely photographed at the Magna Carta School in Egham Hythe, Surrey. Colin ‘Thunderbolt’ Dexter was portrayed by Richard Cray and Leo ‘Smokey’ Beckles by Ian Green. Both actors were pupils at the school, along with the other boys featured in the story. A further Thunderbolt and Smokey photo strip appeared in the EAGLE Annual 1983. As a photo story, the strip achieved levels of realism rarely achieved in drawn soccer strips, because most of the action shots were taken during real matches or dedicated set plays. In a surprise ending, the boys narrowly fail to win the cup, but are praised for their dedication, belief and spirit. The strip was written by Tom Tully, whose credits also include Heros the Spartan in the original EAGLE, Roy of the Rovers in Tiger and Roy of the Rovers Weekly and the later adventures of Dan Dare in the new EAGLE. It was photographed by John Powell. West Ham’s goalkeeper Phil Parkes made a guest appearance in one episode when he coached Colin Dexter who had to act as goalie after the regular keeper was injured by a bully. Predominantly set in the school and on football pitches, it was a particularly easy photo strip to produce.

The final fumetto to appear in Issue One was The Collector, an anthology strip of ‘one off’ morality tales. Each story was introduced by the ‘Collector’, drawn by artist Pat Wright to avoid the need to call in the same actor repeatedly to pose for just one or two pictures. The Collector would show readers an item from his collection which would form the basis of his tale, which was told as a photo strip. Several writers contributed stories, including Roy Preston, Alan Moore, Brian Burrell and Gerry Finley-Day and photographers included Gary Compton, Sven Arnstein, Carin Simon and Henry Arden. Almost all the stories featured horror or supernatural elements and the single episode stories meant that the settings changed each issue. While most were contemporary, there were also stories set in the Second World War. The Collector ran until Issue 48, with two photo strips appearing in the 1983 EAGLE Annual, another in the EAGLE Holiday Special in 1983 and a final one in the 1984 Annual. The 1984 Holiday Special and the 1984 Annual each also carried an additional Collector strip, both drawn by Ron Turner.

Beginning in the second issue was a short occasional humorous strip called The Adventures of Fred. Portrayed by EAGLE’s Group Editor, Barrie Tomlinson, who also wrote the strip, Fred was an odd looking character - Barrie Tomlinson was heavily disguised in large glasses, with a small moustache and wearing an old mac and a hat. His ‘adventures’ appeared sporadically during the first few months of EAGLE and featured visual jokes which usually occupied no more than half a page. A final episode appeared in the 1983 Annual. Slightly reminiscent of Chicko in the original EAGLE, there was no dialogue in the strip.

Another photo strip with humorous elements was Joe Soap, which first appeared in Issue 12, dated 12th June 1982. Written by Alan Grant and photographed by Gary Compton, it was about an incompetent private detective called Joseph Soaper. There were three serial stories in EAGLE with a break between the second and third serial. Joe’s final appearance was in Issue 45. However, after featuring in a photo strip in the Annual for 1984, he later appeared in drawn strips in EAGLE Annuals and Summer Specials in stories that were the inverse of the original EAGLE’s Can You Catch a Crook? strip, because readers were asked to spot the clues that Joe missed. Can You Catch a Crook? had asked readers to spot the clues that Sergeant Dave Bruce had noticed. In the photo strip Joe was portrayed by actor Michael Scott. A trans-sexual, Michael has subsequently become Mjka Scott.

Most photo strips were filmed in London and usually not far from the editorial office. King’s Reach Tower, where the new EAGLE was based, provided a remarkable number of backgrounds.  Further afield was the location of the ambitious western photo strip Saddle Tramp, which began in Issue 14, dated 26th June 1982 and ran for thirteen episodes. It was principally photographed in Frontier City, a replica wild west town at Littlecote Manor near Hungerford. The hero was a bounty hunter called Trampas, a name borrowed from Owen Wister’s novel The Virginian. He was played by Malcolm Warriner, a western re-enactor, with other parts played by members of his western enthusiasts group. A recurring theme in the strip was that Trampas would lose his horse and have to earn more money from chasing bounties to buy a new one. In the thirteen episodes he managed to catch and often kill a fair number of villains, but the last episode ends as the first began, with Trampas carrying his saddle on his shoulder and off to chase new bounties to buy yet another horse. Saddle Tramp also “narrated” a western text story in the 1984 EAGLE Annual, which was illustrated by photographs. The strip was written by Gerry Finley-Day and photographed by Howard Payton. Sadly, Frontier City was demolished after Peter de Savary, the brother of Paul, who once owned the TV and film rights to Dan Dare, bought Littlecote in 1985!

Beginning in Issue 24, dated 4th September 1982, Manix was EAGLE’s second most popular photo strip. Clearly inspired by the original EAGLE’s The Iron Man, Manix was also about a powerful android robot, who passed for human. However this strip took the concept to another level, tackling questions that The Iron Man barely touched on. While the Iron Man’s computer brain was occasionally controlled briefly by villains, he was always freed before he did any serious damage. However Manix was controlled for a considerable time by the self-seeking Colonel Cameron and killed several people on his behalf. When Cameron ordered him to kill ‘O’, the head of British Intelligence, his own survival impulses enabled him to override his orders and he began to work for ‘O’ against Cameron. Subsequently he carried out missions for British Intelligence. As with Doomlord, Manix was able to change his outward appearance. He could be given new faces, thereby avoiding the need to keep the same actor, who might not have been available. Also, as with Doomlord, there was more than one Manix. Two were destroyed and replaced in the course of the series and there was also a foot high ‘Mini Manix’ who helped the full size version for a while! The series was developed by Alan Grant and John Wagner and photographed by Mike Prior. Alan Grant wrote later stories on his own, using the name ‘Keith Law’. The first Manix was played by Steve Long. When EAGLE dropped fumetti, Manix continued as a drawn strip, with Manuel Carmona as artist. Scott Goodall eventually took over as writer. Goodall’s previous work had included Thunderbirds for TV Century 21 and Fishboy and Galaxus, The Thing From Outer Space for Buster.

Beginning in Issue 28, dated 2nd October 1982, was Invisible Boy, which replaced Thunderbolt and Smokey. It was written by Scott Goodall and photographed by John Powell. When the young hero, Tim Talbot stumbled into one of his scientist father’s experiments it exposed him to a strange radiation which enabled him to become invisible whenever he touched a micro-cell battery. Initially Tim used his powers to deal with school bullies and similar problems, but later turned his attention to fighting crime. The strip ran initially for thirteen episodes, but returned for a longer run in January 1983. However it did not survive the dropping of photo strips. An Invisible Boy photo strip also appeared in the 1983 EAGLE Holiday Special and a text story appeared in the 1984 Annual, but was illustrated with drawings.

Issue 41, dated 1st January 1983, brought another historical based strip. This was Jake’s Platoon, about a small group of British soldiers, separated from the main force after landing on Sword Beach on D Day. With their sergeant and corporal dead, it fell upon Lance-Corporal Jake Jackson to lead his men back to their battalion. A brave attempt to produce an action strip, Jake’s Platoon was only partially successful. While there were some well presented skirmishes with small groups of Germans, the houses were clearly English, as was the countryside and several characters needed haircuts – a problem with many war films in the seventies and early eighties. The strip was written by Gerry Finley-Day and photographed by Carin Simon and ran for seventeen episodes.

Another strip with a wartime setting began in Issue 64 (11th June 1983). House of Correction lasted for twelve episodes. An unusual story, it was about an R.A.F. Officer and his team working behind enemy lines in France to destroy a Nazi scientist and his evil brainwashing serum and thwarting his plan to blow up the leaders of the French Resistance.  It was written by Chris Lowder (as Jack Adrian) and photographed by Mike Prior. Lowder’s previous work had included Adam Eterno for Thunder and later Lion and five Dan Dare stories for 2000A.D. 

The final fumetto Walk or Die began in Issue 65 (18th June 1983) and was about a group of seven schoolchildren who survived an air crash in the Canadian wilderness and were forced to walk through remote hazardous country to reach safety. Two teachers with them were killed in the first episode following an encounter with a bear! The story shows how the group are saved by Jim Hardy, an unpopular boy who put all sentiment and sympathy aside in leading the others to safety. This was another strip that examined and questioned moral judgements. When the others ignored Hardy’s warning that the rivers were too dangerous for a raft, one of them was drowned and an injury which almost led to Hardy’s own death was caused by the reckless action of one of the others. Walk or Die ran for thirty three episodes, continuing through the change from photo stories to illustrated strips. It was written by Scott Goodall and the photographer on the first fifteen episodes was Howard Payton. Two photo episodes of the strip were included in the final issue to use fumetti (Issue 78) and subsequently the strip was illustrated by Ramon Escolano. It concluded in Issue 96.     

The novelty appeal of the photo strips undoubtedly contributed to the early success of the new EAGLE, but writers were severely limited by the constraints of photographed stories, having to use great ingenuity to devise interesting plots that could be achieved with a camera and actors. Similarly the photographers and actors achieved some remarkable shots, but many action scenes looked posed, because they were. In his autobiography Comic Book Hero, Barrie Tomlinson wrote:

“Within a few months, it became obvious that readers preferred drawn picture-strips, rather than photo-strips. To the delight of artists everywhere, we reverted to all picture-strips. It had been something worth trying. Doing special effects had been really difficult.”

Fumetti were also more expensive to produce that illustrated strips. Interviewed for Hibernia Books’ 2018 publication, The Fleetway Files, Editor David Hunt admitted that the “photographic process was both time consuming and expensive,” before going on to say, “When sales started to slip after the first year, then the photo-story process became difficult for me to justify."

Issue 79 did not merely dispense with the photo-strips though. It also marked a change in size and paper quality for EAGLE. Now it was printed on cheap newsprint paper where photo strips would not have reproduced satisfactorily and it resembled the old Lion and Valiant in appearance and content, with several more comic strips replacing the photo strips and features. It now became more of a traditional comic than a magazine.

Despite their limitations, the photo stories are fondly remembered today and in the early issues Doomlord was more popular with readers than Dan Dare.  

I am grateful to Jim O’Brien, David Ronayne and Stephen Reid, who provided some information for this article.


Sunday, 26 July 2020


The seventieth anniversary of Dan Dare is to be celebrated with a special exhibition to be held in the Atkinson Arts Centre in Southport, where both Dan and Eagle were created. The exhibition was originally intended to open in April, but the coronavirus delayed it and it will now run from July 27th until September 5th. Slots have to be booked and a one way system will operate, but there should be sufficient time for all who wish to attend to do so. Details can be found at:

Thursday, 16 July 2020


The latest edition of EAGLE Times is out now. A bumper issue to mark EAGLE's seventieth anniversary year, it runs to 56 pages and includes free gifts of two full colour prints of Dan Dare  pictures by Bryan Talbot.
EAGLE's annuals by Joe Hoole. The final part features the 1980's annuals.
Kenneth McDonough: The career of one of EAGLE's original artists, by Jeremy Briggs.
Dan Dare and the B29: Adrian Perkins notes the similarities between the interior of some of Dan's ships and the B29 bomber.
The Story of a Train That Went Nowhere: David Britton examines an in depth article prepared for EAGLE that was never published.
The Case of the Unwelcome Guest House. Part Two of the latest Archie Willoughby adventure by Steve Winders.
Childhood Memories by Kevin O'Donnell.
The White Funnel Fleet: The story of the steamer fleet which operated in the Bristol Channel for eighty years.
The Dan Dare Studios Ideas Book: Featuring the Phant  Interceptor Spacecraft.
Charles Chilton and the Indian Wars: Part One of David Britton's examination of the Riders of the Range adventure The War With Geronimo.
My own review of Steve Holland's new book about Rocket - The First Space Age Weekly.
Donovan: David Gould's account of the career of the popular performer and his visit to EAGLE's offices.


Published between 1961 and ’63 was Signal comic, a free publication to promote the toothpaste of the same name. As far as I have been able to discover, the comic ran to just five issues and was supplied to dentists and chemists to give to their young customers. Clearly inspired by the layout of the original EAGLE, its cover strip was illustrated by Don Harley and it also included strips drawn by Pat Williams and John Ryan.         
Printed in photogravure, it contained a mix of strips and educational features. It was printed on smaller paper than EAGLE and contained just eight pages, but it was a real comic with quality contents. In 1963 it was replaced by Gibbs Ivory Castle Arrow, a similar publication, which ran for eleven issues until 1966 and was produced by EAGLE’s publisher Odhams. Edited by George Beal, John M. Burns drew the cover strip, which was written by Keith Chapman and John Ryan also contributed a regular strip.

Tuesday, 21 April 2020



A new edition of Steve Holland’s book about the comics Hurricane and Champion now covers the twelve annuals in addition to the weeklies and its detailed index has been updated with some new information about the creators of the strips and a new cover by Jordi Penalva. As with his other books, Steve has written a thorough account of the creation of the two weeklies, their content and their styles. He provides many examples of pages and other illustrations from the comics to support his text and as always, his work is well researched, with contributions from Gil Page, the former editor of Champion (and briefly also editor of EAGLE) and assistance from several comic experts including David Roach and our own Jeremy Briggs.

The book is full of interesting details about the two comics and provides an insight into the way Fleetway worked in the 1960s. Hurricane was the longest running of the two, lasting 63 issues (February 1963 – May 1964) before merging into Tiger, although its annuals ran until 1974. It introduced two long running strips in Typhoon Tracy, a peacetime version of Valiant’s Captain Hurricane and Skid Solo, a racing driver, whose adventures would run for a further sixteen years in Tiger. I recall Typhoon Tracy being Hurricane’s front page hero, but learned from the book that for a short while he was replaced on the cover by a football strip called Hurry of the Hammers. It wasn’t West Ham, but Hammersfield Town and it was actually a reprint of the early Roy of the Rovers from Tiger, a decade earlier with the text altered. ‘Hurry’ was actually Harry Cane, which coincidentally is almost the name of the current real England captain and Harry Kane also has the nickname Hurri-Kane.

A large number of Italian artists were employed on Hurricane and the book includes examples of pages by Giovanni Ticci, Giorgio Trevisan, Nino Caroselli, Nevio Zeccara and Renato Polese, as well as the Spanish artists, Jordi Penalva, Juan Gonzalez Alacreu and Angel Nadal. Examples of art from Hurricane Annuals includes work by Ian Kennedy, Graham Coton, Reg Bunn and Don Harley.

 With a mix of science fiction, sport, western, historical and humour strips, Hurricane ran a range of stories, like its companion paper, although Steve suggests that initially it was probably aimed at the older end of the market. He gives a detailed account of the changes introduced in attempts to boost sales of Hurricane and indeed the introduction of repeated material to save on costs, but the arrival of serious competition in the form of TV Century 21 caused Fleetway to give their boys’ weeklies a makeover. They increased the content to 40 pages and merged Hurricane with Tiger, which was suffering from falling circulation at the time. The merger worked, giving the combined paper a healthy circulation and Tiger went on to outlive all the other Fleetway boys’ adventure weeklies that were running at the time, eventually being merged into the new EAGLE in 1985.

Champion took the name of a previous story paper, which had run from 1922 until 1955. However it was quite different from its predecessor. Half the new paper consisted of reprints of strips from the Franco-Belgian Tintin and Spirou magazines and the book examines these. From Tintin there was Jet Jordan, the adventures of a pilot in the Royal Canadian Air Force. The strip, which had strong science fiction elements was called Dan Cooper in the original French language version. This was Champion’s colour cover strip and each episode opened with a large new frame to attract attention. The reprinted frames were edited to fit the pages. Also from Tintin were a strip about a wildlife photographer fighting ivory poachers in Africa, a science fiction adventure and The Knights of Konigsfeld, a motor racing strip, not a medieval adventure, which featured the long running character Michel Vaillant. Hugely successful in France and Belgium, his adventures in albums are still available today. Tintin magazine also supplied the humour strip Modeste et Pompom, which became Jinks.  From Spirou came two humorous strips. There was the now famous Lucky Luke strip, who was known as Bingo in Champion and a strip called Starter, which was relocated to Liverpool and called Whacker. There were also four new British adventure strips and one repeat. The most enduring adventure strip was the superhero story The Phantom Viking, which ran for two years in Lion after the comics merged.  There were two new humour strips, both of which had science fiction themes. A science fiction text story called Bartok and his Brothers completed the predominantly science fiction character of the paper, although according to Gil Page, this was not deliberate. Most of the strips had been passed on to him from the unused strip department as a fait accompli!

Examples of artwork from Champion by Albert Weinberg (Jet Jordan / Dan Cooper), Jean Gratan (Knights of Konigsberg), Edouard Aidans and Ferdinando Taccconi, as well as Eric Bradbury, Carlos Cruz and Mike White, who would later contribute to the new EAGLE are included in the book.

 Champion ran for a mere fifteen issues (February to June 1966) before being merged into Lion, never having the benefit of a makeover or relaunch. But despite its extremely short life and partly because of it, its story is an interesting one and much credit goes to Steve Holland, who has researched and told it so well. The book now runs to 60 black and white pages, with a full colour softback cover. It is published by Bear Alley Books and retails at just £8.99 with £4 postage and packing and I can confidently recommend it. 

Tuesday, 14 April 2020


Today marks the 70th Anniversary of EAGLE . Happy birthday to our favourite paper.

Sunday, 5 April 2020


ComicScene Magazine has produced a special edition to celebrate Dan and Eagle's seventieth anniversary. Full details can be found here in their press release: 

On 14th April 1950, following the end of World War Two and with the UK still in the grip of rationing, a splash of colour came into everyone's lives with the launch of Eagle comic and the character Dan Dare, Pilot of the Future. 900,000 people bought the first issue. Now in the grip of another national crisis, we can enjoy the exploits of Dan Dare once again. Exactly 70 years later on 14th April 2020 ComicScene Magazine will launch worldwide in print and digital a special anniversary issue with articles on Eagle and three picture strips in the original style of 50's Dan Dare in a special 'Spaceship Away' supplement.
Editor of ComicScene Tony Foster said "We wanted to celebrate 70 years of UK comic history with a milestone edition of ComicScene. It could be argued without Eagle and Dan Dare and the work of editor Marcus Morris and creator Frank Hampson, we wouldn't have seen Doctor Who, Star Wars and comics like 2000AD, Judge Dredd and even US comic classics like Watchmen and the original format of Dark Knight. Eagle influenced a generation of comic books and stories like never before. This Collectors Item of ComicScene tries to capture that, as well as exploring what comic creators are up to today." 
The magazine will be available as a 110 digital issue and 80 page print issue by post on 14th April, distributed exactly 70 years after the launch of the original Eagle.  It can be ordered at 
Tony explained, "The magazine is sold in newsagents across the UK, Ireland, USA, Canada and Australia.  Unfortunately the Virus from Venus means this issue will come to newsstands a little later this year but Dan Dare won't be beaten and the wonders of digital and mail order will win the day!"
The magazine features articles on the 1950's Dan Dare, Dan Dare in 2000AD, Dare by Grant Morrison and Rian Hughes, the 1980's relaunched Eagle, the Dan Dare audio adventures, a free pull out Eagle and Dan Dare supplement and new Euro and Indie comics. There are also picture strips including Judge Dredd co- creator John Wagner on Rok of the Reds, Gentleman Jack meets Dick Turpin style adventures in Flintlock, golden age comic Captain Cosmic and the crazy Whackoman! 
The magazine can be ordered now in print and digital from £5.99 at www.getmycomics.com/comicscene with enhanced school and library packs with extra comics at https://comicscene.org/comicscene-online-store/

Saturday, 4 April 2020


The new EAGLE TIMES is out now. Featuring articles on Dan Dare, Riders of the Range, Cortes -Conqueror of Mexico and the secret wartime adventures of Marcus Morris’ secretary, it is available from Bob Corn at the address opposite.

Dan Dare -The Evil One   A commentary and review by Will Grenham
Vernon Holding - Chief Executive of Hulton Press   by Richard Sheaf
The Story of EAGLE’s Annuals Part Two   by Joe Hoole
Charles Chilton and the Indian Wars Part Eight  by David Britton
Beth Fetherston WRNS, Marcus Morris’ Secretary   by Jeremy Briggs
Cortes – Conqueror of Mexico   by Steve Winders
Dan Dare Studio Ideas Part Two  
The Case of the Unwelcome Guest House Part One – a new Archie Willoughby adventure
The Story of a Train That Went Nowhere   An article about a proposed series about the Canadian Pacific Railway that EAGLE rejected  
Tail Pieces   short news items compiled by David Britton 

Saturday, 15 February 2020


TV Century 21 weekly was launched in January 1965, primarily to promote Gerry Anderson's futuristic puppet TV series, namely Supercar, Fireball XL5 and Stingray, but also featuring other TV series, including Burke's Law, The Munsters and The Daleks from Doctor Who. Gerry Anderson's greatest success, Thunderbirds, would follow a year later and subsequently there would be Captain Scarlet and the Mysterons in 1967 and Joe 90 in 1969, who would initially appear in his own comic, before it merged into TV Century 21. Other TV programmes which were featured later as strips included The Saint and Star Trek, which joined from other comics. TV Century 21 was heavily influenced by EAGLE, which is hardly surprising as EAGLE had been a great success in the preceding decade and its lead strip, Dan Dare was easily Britain's best and most popular space adventure strip. Like Dan Dare, TV Century 21 was about adventure in the future and its editor Alan Fennell was keen to emulate EAGLE's success. He persuaded many of EAGLE's former artists to join the new weekly and his efforts proved fruitful as TV Century 21 outsold the sixties EAGLE and its other adventure strip rivals in its first few years of publication. The steadily declining popularity of Gerry Anderson's series which followed Thunderbirds, coupled with a change of publisher and the loss of rights to Anderson's programmes led to declining sales and TV 21 was absorbed into Valiant in 1971. During its years of success it spawned several companion papers, just as EAGLE had in the 1950s. There was Lady Penelope, for girls, Solo and Joe 90 for boys and Candy for younger children. Lady Penelope was named after the popular character from Thunderbirds, who was introduced in her own strip in the first issues of TV Century 21, before the arrival of Thunderbirds on TV.

In its early years, TV Century 21's size, paper quality, printer and layout were the same as EAGLE's. Eric Bemrose Ltd. of Liverpool printed both papers using the Photogravure process and during the mid sixties, both ran to twenty or sometimes twenty four pages, with six in colour. The front page of TV Century 21 was set out as a newspaper, which was a device first used by EAGLE in two episodes of Dan Dare. Like EAGLE, TV 21 also carried some informative and educational features, with three in the first issue, covering outer space, the oceans and wildlife. No less than six former Dan Dare artists illustrated strips in TV Century 21 while two more contributed to related publications. In addition to these, ten others who had previously contributed to EAGLE, illustrated strips in TV Century 21 at various times during its six and a half year run and another four drew strips for annuals and specials. Of the Dan Dare artists, Eric Eden drew Lady Penelope and a Daleks story, having contributed to pre-TV 21 Supercar and Fireball XL5 Annuals. He also filled in on the Fireball XL5 and Zero X strips and produced early cutaways and feature art. Zero X was a spaceship featured in Gerry Anderson's cinema film Thunderbirds Are Go. Don Harley drew Thunderbirds, Captain Scarlet and Lady Penelope. He also drew Mark of the Mysterons in Solo comic and the subsequent Mysterons strip in  TV Tornado and Solo, when the titles merged. He would later draw Thunderbirds strips for a comic called Countdown in 1971, after it acquired the publication rights. Frank Bellamy, who had also drawn back page strips about Churchill, King David and Marco Polo as well as Fraser of Africa and Heros the Spartan for EAGLE, drew Thunderbirds. Harold Johns drew Star Trek and Keith Watson drew Captain Scarlet and Joe 90. Keith originally drew Joe 90 for the Joe 90:Top Secret comic before it was merged into TV 21 and he wrote several stories himself. Dan Dare's creator, Frank Hampson  drew a few episodes of Fireball XL5 for the weekly and a Lady Penelope story for a TV Century 21 Summer Extra in 1965. The two Dan Dare artists who drew for related publications, were Eric Kincaid, who drew a Fireball XL5 strip for a TV Century 21 Annual and Daktari for Lady Penelope weekly, as well as Tingha and Tucker and Snap, Crackle and Pop for Candy comic and Desmond Walduck who drew several Fireball XL5 strips for the pre-TV Century 21 Fireball XL5 Annuals. Two writers with links to Dan Dare also worked on TV 21. David Motton, who wrote the Dan Dare strip from 1962 until 1966, wrote some Burke's Law stories and Angus P. Allan, who novelised the original Dan Dare story for the New English Library in 1977 was script editor on TV Century 21 and wrote many strips for the paper, including Thunderbirds, Captain Scarlet, Zero X  and Star Trek. He also wrote for the companion papers and a novelisation of the feature film Thunderbirds Are Go. In the 1970s he wrote several Space 1999 Annuals, based on Gerry Anderson's live action TV series and the Space 1999 strip for Look In weekly.

Of the other former EAGLE artists, Paul Trevillion, who drew Can You Catch a Crook? and U.F.O. Agent for EAGLE, drew Burke's Law and The Munsters for TV 21. He also drew The Beverly Hillbillies for Lady Penelope weekly and The Man From U.N.C.L.E. for Solo comic. Richard Jennings, who drew Tommy Walls, Storm Nelson, Earthquake Island and U.F.O. Agent for EAGLE, drew The Daleks for TV 21. Harry Lindfield, who drew Mark Question for EAGLE, drew Star Trek. for TV 21 and The Monkees for Lady Penelope weekly. Ron Embleton, who drew Johnny Frog for EAGLE, produced illustrations for the credits sequence on the Captain Scarlet TV series and drew Stingray, Captain Scarlet and some Project Sword illustrations for TV 21. He also drew The Man From U.N.C.L.E. for Lady Penelope weekly, while his brother Gerry, who had drawn a few episodes of Riders of the Range and some factual strips for EAGLE, as well as a one off adventure strip for the 1963 EAGLE Annual, drew Stingray and Catch or Kill for TV 21. Gerry also drew the early issues of The Perils of Parker for Lady Penelope weekly and a Thunderbirds strip for younger readers in Candy comic. In 1982 he would be the first artist to work on Dan Dare for the 1980s EAGLE. Colin Andrew, who drew Home of the Wanderers and The Guinea Pig for EAGLE, drew Tomorrow West for Solo comic, before stints on Fireball XL5 and Stingray for TV 21. John M. Burns, who drew Wrath of the Gods and some factual strips for EAGLE, also drew Catch or Kill  and Front Page for TV 21, a Lady Penelope strip and Space Family Robinson for Lady Penelope weekly and Gerry Anderson's UFO for TV Action and Countdown. Later he drew Gerry Anderson's Space 1999 for Look In. The Space 1999 strips were written by Angus P. Allan. John would also go on to draw Dan Dare for the 1980s EAGLE as well as The Fists of Danny Pike and Dolebusters.

Although he only drew a short Blackbow the Cheyenne strip for EAGLE and some story illustrations for annuals, Don Lawrence nevertheless qualifies as an EAGLE contributor and he drew Fireball XL5 and The Adventures of Tarzan for TV 21. He also drew a newspaper strip adaptation of the film Thunderbirds Are Go for the Daily Mail and six episodes of a proposed newspaper strip version of Joe 90 which was never published at the time, but appeared in Century 21, a magazine for fans in the early 1990s. The other two former EAGLE artists to work on TV 21 were Carlos Pino and Vicente Alcazar, who worked together, using the name 'Carvic'. They drew the final Guinea Pig adventure for EAGLE in 1969 and the same year worked on Department S and The Saint for TV 21, later producing the Star Trek strip for the paper. Working alone, Carlos Pino would later draw many episodes of the second series of Bloodfang and some MASK strips for the 1980s EAGLE, which also reprinted his M.A.C.H. 1 strips from 2000 A.D. weekly. 

Four former EAGLE artists drew strips for TV 21 related publications: Pat Williams drew a Fireball XL5 strip for TV 21's 1965 Summer Extra, having drawn Cavendish Brown M.S. and many factual strips for EAGLE. Gerald Haylock, who drew Knights of the Road and The Guinea Pig for EAGLE, drew Land of the Giants for TV 21's companion paper Joe 90 and Gerry Anderson's UFO for Countdown, while Brian Lewis, who had also drawn The Guinea Pig, as well as Home of the Wanderers and Mann of Battle for EAGLE, drew a Thunderbirds strip for a one-off Thunderbirds Extra in 1966, having previously illustrated a Supercar Storybook. He also drew the humorous Blunderbirds strip for EAGLE, which parodied Thunderbirds! Brian would later draw a Dan Dare strip for the 2000 A.D. version of the character for that weekly. Reg Parlett, who drew the humorous Fidosaurus and XYZ Cars for EAGLE, drew Run Buddy Run  for Solo comic. Another former EAGLE employee also worked for TV 21, as Art Editor for the Annuals and other related books. This was Roger Perry, who had been a layout artist on EAGLE in the early sixties and the 'face' of EAGLE's Roving Reporter.

Between the original EAGLE and the arrival of a new version of Dan Dare in 2000 A.D. weekly in 1977, Jim Baikie drew a Dan Dare strip for the 1974 EAGLE Annual. Prior to this, he had taken over The Monkees strip from Harry Lindfield in Lady Penelope weekly, had a brief stint drawing The Adventures of Tarzan for TV 21 and drew Star Trek for TV 21 and its annuals. Between 1983 and '84 he drew Gerry Anderson's Terrahawks for Look In weekly and in 1984 drew the first series of Bloodfang for the 1980s EAGLE. He also drew a Doomlord strip for the 1985 EAGLE Annual.  

Another artist who contributed to TV 21 and its associated publications would later work on the 1980s version of EAGLE. This was John Cooper, who produced Johnny Red, The Amstor Computer and Computer Warrior strips for the 1980s EAGLE, which also reprinted his One Eyed Jack work from Valiant. He drew Secret Agent 21, Thunderbirds, Stingray, Joe 90 and Captain Scarlet for TV 21 annuals and Thunderbirds and Captain Scarlet for the weekly. Later he drew Captain Scarlet for Countdown and Thunderbirds, Captain Scarlet and Stingray for Fleetway's comics based on the characters in the 1990s. He drew Captain Scarlet for Sunday, the News of the World's magazine section and Joe 90 for the Funday Times, which was the Sunday Times' children's section. One writer from the 1980s EAGLE had earlier worked on TV 21. This was Scott Goodall, who wrote some Thunderbirds, Captain Scarlet, Zero X and Lady Penelope among other strips for TV 21 and its companions. Scott wrote Walk or Die, Invisible Boy, Rat Trap and some Manix strips for EAGLE.

Repeats of Gerry Anderson's Thunderbirds TV series on BBC 2 in 1991, prompted Fleetway Publications to launch a Thunderbirds comic the same year, which published reprints of many TV 21 strips. New contents were also produced and Keith Watson drew some new strips for this publication. Five more artists with Dan Dare connections also contributed to it. Graham Bleathman, who would later produce cutaways of Dan Dare spacecraft for both Spaceship Away magazine and a Haynes Manual, drew covers and cutaways of the Thunderbirds and associated craft for this and the subsequent Gerry Anderson related comics published by Fleetway. He also drew cutaways for a later Thunderbirds comic produced by Redan in 2000, a Haynes Thunderbirds Manual and other collections. Keith Page, who drew some Dan Dare strips for the 1980s EAGLE and a strip about the early career of Dan's boss, Sir Hubert Guest, for Spaceship Away, drew several new Thunderbirds strips and covers for the Thunderbirds comic and covers for Fleetway's Stingray comic. He also drew Thunderbirds for the Funday Times. Rod Vass, who drew the Dan Dare strip for the 1980 2000 A.D. Annual, also drew a Thunderbirds strip for the Fleetway comic and designed the 1993 Thunderbirds and the World of Gerry Anderson Exhibition in Blackpool. Jon Haward, who drew several Dan Dare strips for the 1980s EAGLE, drew two Thunderbirds strips and some illustrations for Fleetway's Stingray comic and Andrew Skilleter, who, as a boy co-founded the very first Dan Dare Club in the 1960s  and later worked with Keith Watson on two Dan Dare stories for the 1980s EAGLE, drew an epic 32 part strip telling the whole story of how the Thunderbirds Organisation International Rescue was founded. He also drew some covers for the Thunderbirds comic and produced artwork for Fleetway's Stingray, Captain Scarlet and Joe 90 comics. He illustrated covers and 'Mission Activity' pages for the later Redan Thunderbirds comic and also produced pictures for a Captain Scarlet Sticker Album. He currently supplies the Gerry Anderson Online Store (run by Gerry's son Jamie), with licensed Limited Edition signed prints of his Anderson related work.

In 2014 a brand new single edition of TV Century 21 was produced by Network. It included a new Stingray strip drawn by Gerry Embleton, a Lady Penelope strip by John M. Burns and a Thunderbirds strip drawn by Martin Baines, who had drawn some Dan Dare strips and illustrations for the early editions of Spaceship Away! This led to further Thunderbirds and Gerry Anderson related work for Martin. He drew episodes of Space 1999 and Captain Scarlet for some DVD releases and after a new C.G.I. television series Thunderbirds Are Go! was launched on ITV  in 2015,  a comic of the same name appeared and he drew some of the Thunderbirds Are Go! strips. This time D.C. Thomson were the publishers. Martin has recently completed a Dan Dare cover for Comic Scene magazine to mark Dan's seventieth anniversary.

Collated and written by Jim Duckett and Steve Winders. We are most grateful to Shaqui Le Vesconte who provided much information and corrected our mistakes and to Martin Baines, Graham Bleathman, Steve Holland, Andrew Skilleter and Rod Vass for clarifying and providing information.