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.

Saturday, 30 April 2022



Their name appears in every single issue of Eagle, Girl, Swift, Robin and Boys’ World and in every issue of the 1980s Eagle and countless other British comics and magazines, although most readers probably never saw it. Along with the title and Dan Dare, Gordon and Gotch and the Central News Agency of South Africa are the only other constant names in the two versions of Eagle. Gordon and Gotch appeared at the bottom of a page in the publisher’s details as the ‘sole agents for Australia and New Zealand’ and the Central News Agency as agents for South Africa. These two companies were independent of each other, but had worked closely together since 1904 when they reached an agreement that Gordon and Gotch would become sole agents for C.N.A. in Britain while their branches in the Cape and Natal would be taken over by C.N.A. 

Born in Kettering Northamptonshire in 1829, John Speechly Gotch was a dentist, who sailed from Liverpool to seek his fortune in the U.S.A. in 1849. While in New York to learn about the manufacture of false teeth he heard about the discovery of gold in Victoria and in 1853 he sailed on the clipper Peytona, bound for Australia. However the ship was wrecked off the coast of Mauritius and Gotch escaped with only his nightshirt on his back and penniless. He worked as a dentist in Mauritius for eleven weeks to earn enough money for his passage to Melbourne and on arrival he made for Fryer Creek near Castlemaine where the latest gold strike had been reported. The above painting from 1855 by Edwin Stocqueler shows gold digging in Australia. Unfortunately all Gotch found was a small nugget worth about £3 before he ran out of money and provisions. He also injured his foot with a pick. He returned to Melbourne on the back of a teamster’s wagon, because he could hardly walk and he was almost penniless again – he actually had tuppence ha’penny left. There he met a Scotsman called Alexander Gordon who ran a market stall which sold newspapers and was also an advertising agent for the Melbourne Argus. He initially offered John a job selling papers and organising advertisers, but Gotch proved so adept that a few weeks later Gordon offered him a partnership which depended on his ability to sell as many newspapers in the diggings as Gordon sold on his stall. Both men flourished and the partnership was duly established. It was suggested that they should have an agreement drawn up by a lawyer, to which Gordon responded “If we are honest men we do not need a lawyer; and if we are dishonest, no lawyer can make us honest.”

Although at this time two principal newspapers were published in Melbourne, imported British publications like The Illustrated London News, Home News and Lloyds were more popular as colonists were eager for news of home. Consequently there was great competition among newsagents to acquire the most recent editions and the arrival of a ship was always eagerly anticipated in the town. When a ship was arriving it would send a semaphore signal to a lookout station on the coast. A messenger then hurried to a hill known as Flagstaff Gardens and hoisted a flag which indicated the ship’s departure point. When Gotch saw the red and white flag which indicated that a vessel was arriving from London, he would hurry by hansom cab to the port ready to collect his parcels and race his rivals back to town. The new firm was able to move from their market stall to permanent offices in 1856 and when Gordon sold his interest in the company to Gotch in 1859 to return to Scotland, the firm was pre-eminent in Melbourne as news and advertising agents and as distributors of newspapers and periodicals from Britain. In 1860 John’s brother William joined the business and the following year his brother in law Alfred Jones also joined. Branches were opened in Sydney in 1861, London in 1867 and Brisbane in 1875. Each involved a partnership in which John held at least a half share and was directly involved in their management. In 1874 John travelled to London personally to tackle a crisis created by a defaulting clerk. 

The branches were not uniform in their activities, which ranged from the import and distribution of newspapers, printing supplies and stationery, printing and publishing of books such as The Australian Handbook, advertising and a press telegraph service. Well before the turn of the century, the London Office extended its work to general exports and the Australian Offices extended to the importing of such items as machinery and pianos. New branches were opened in Perth in 1894 and Wellington in New Zealand in 1899. John died in September 1901, but a small group of his relatives continued to exercise a considerable degree of control. The Company thrived, extending operations to the U.S.A. and Canada. American publications began to be imported, but the Company always imported significantly more British ones. Despite the problems created by two World Wars, which included the London Office being bombed in the Blitz and imports of publications to Australasia being restricted in favour of more vital supplies, the Company managed to survive and when Eagle began in 1950, Gordon and Gotch were the agents for most British publishers in Australia and New Zealand. Consequently when Eagle’s publishers changed, their agents in Australasia remained the same. The success of Eagle in Britain and Australia led to the creation of an Australian version, which ran from 1953 to 1955 by the Adelaide Advertiser newspaper, under licence from Hulton Press. Printed on cheap newsprint and with less colour than the British original, it ran for eighty six issues, but like many Australian based children’s weeklies of the time, it struggled because the market was not large enough. It also competed with the imported original. In the final issue, the editor John Collins assured readers that arrangements had been made for more copies of the British version to be available from newsagents all over Australia and indeed Gordon and Gotch rose to the occasion and more copies were imported to meet demand.

 The Company was still operating when the new Eagle was launched in 1982 and were again listed as sole agents for Australia and New Zealand. Although the Company is now part of PMP Limited, it still operates as Gordon and Gotch in Australasia. In Britain, the Gordon and Gotch name survives as Gordon and Gotch Publishing following a management buyout from Rupert Murdoch’s ownership in 1992. They produce a wide range of software for publishers. So the name of Gordon and Gotch lives on and if yet another version of Eagle ever appears, it is quite possible that once again Gordon and Gotch may be ‘sole agents for Australia and New Zealand’.                     

Thursday, 28 April 2022


In 1986, twenty one years before Virgin Comics launched their seven part series of Dan Dare comics by Garth Ennis and Gary Erskine, Virgin Games created a Dan Dare: Pilot of the Future video game for the ZX Spectrum, Amstrad CPC and Commodore 64 home computer systems, with the Commodore 64 version being significantly different in gameplay from the other two, although based on the same premise. Virgin's interest in Dan Dare comes from the company's founder Richard Branson, who was an EAGLE reader in his boyhood and is a keen Dan Dare fan. In the game, the Mekon threatens to destroy the Earth with a huge hollowed out asteroid unless our leaders submit to his terms. Dan and Digby journey to the asteroid in Anastasia and realise it is inhabited when they see artificially built structures there. Dan enters the asteroid to fight the Mekon and his Treen followers and to face a number of tasks. In the Spectrum and Amstrad versions he is armed with a laser gun and has to pass through levels collecting five pieces of an explosive device, with each piece enabling him to move on to the next. Dangers include armed Treens and floor and wall guns. If he is shot, Dan loses energy and if that reaches zero, he is captured and put in a cell. Although he then escapes, the cell is some distance from the key parts of the complex and this causes a time loss. If Dan runs out of time before he can assemble the five parts, then the Mekon wins.

Dan is unarmed in the Commodore 64 version. He has to combat his Treen assailants with his fists. Accompanied by Stripey, Digby's pet, he must first travel through the asteroid's surface and subterranean lakes, solving various puzzles and collecting items that will allow him to enter the Mekon's base. Here he must fight Treen guards and free a captured Digby and Professor Peabody before destroying three computers with a giant laser. Finally he fights the Mekon in a grenade battle and on defeating him, he has two minutes to return to his ship, the Anastasia before the base explodes. This version of the game takes place in half an hour of real time.  

Both versions of the game proved highly popular and were praised for their graphics and the challenges they posed for players. In 1986, Dan Dare's adventures were appearing weekly in the new version of EAGLE, although their hero was the great great grandson of the original, so the character was familiar to young gamers. The success of the game, which reached number two in the U.K. sales chart spawned two sequels, Dan Dare II - The Mekon's Revenge and Dan Dare III - The Escape, but these were not as well received, with reviewers widely considering them to be no improvement on the original.         

Monday, 11 April 2022


The first EAGLE Times of the new year is out now and now is the best time to subscribe for the four issues of 2022. The subscription remains at £30 and should be sent to Bob Corn at the address on the right. In this issue are articles about the back page strip The Great Explorer (David Livingstone), the Riders of the Range adventure Last of the Fighting Cheyenne, a Frank Hampson Studio feature about the Dan Dare story Rogue Planet, a look at the life of Roy Romaine, who was featured as one of EAGLE's Sporting Heroes, a short article about the EAGLE Club album Famous Men of Today and a feature about the Canadian Pacific Railway. Our former editor Will Grenham also reports on an interesting discovery of a short story published in EAGLE in 1950, which proved to be copied by its 'author' almost word for word from a story by Captain W.E. Johns. Finally there is part one of Steve Winders' new Archie Willoughby story, The Case of the Coveted Coffin, which isn't copied from anyone!