downthetubes contributor Richard Sheaf has written features on Eagle‘s Dan Dare excursions beyond the UK, which include appearances in an Australian version of Eagle, as “Daan Durf” in the Netherlands, an all-new take on the character in Spain, Diego Valor, based more on the Radio Luxembourg incarnation of the character. But did you know Dan Dare also had a French incarnation – Dan Dair?
Finding a copy of the first issue at the weekend sent him scurrying off to ebay to see if he could track down all the individual issues – and he’s posted a gallery here on his own Boys Adventure Comics blog.
Running to just twelve issues, published by Editions LUG – a French comic book publisher created in 1950 by writer/editor Marcel Navarro and businessman Auguste Vistel – Dan Dair launched in April 1962 and included adaptations of “Dan Dare” stories from Eagle, published in a mix of colour and black and white pages.
As Richard notes in his gallery feature, the first four Dan Dair covers are clearly influenced by the early “Dan Dare” stories in Eagle, but the influence of the source comic didn’t stop with its well-known SF strip. Just as Eagle had its western strips such as “Blackbow the Cheyenne”, Dan Dair also featured a western strip, “Kinowa“, an Italian comic book series created by Andrea Lavezzolo and EsseGesse that first debuted in May 1950, drawn by Pietro Gamba.
While Dan Dare was a clean cut hero, the origins of “Kinowa” sound pretty gruesome in comparison. Sam Boyle is left for dead and scalped after an attack on a wagon train that also sees the death of his wife and son. Surviving his injuries, he creates a mask with the likeness of the devil and becomes the avenging spirit, Kinowa, who persecutes the descendants of his attackers.
The title also featured stories featuring Eagle‘s Royal Navy treasure seeker “Storm Nelson“, stories from Eagle, and a racing story titled “Pied à la planche” (“Foot to the Pedal”), which looks to me like an Italian strip.
Although much sought after today, Dan Dair did not have the expected success at the time and ended with Issue 12, published in March 1963, the entire series subsequently collected into three albums.
“Kinowa” continued in France later, appearing in YUMA magazine, also published by Editions LUG, and the adventures of “Storm Nelson” briefly continued in another title, Nevada.
“Dan Dare” and “Storm Nelson” are by no means the only strips republished in France down the decades of course. “Battler Britton” and “Erik the Viking“, for example, enjoyed new life across the Channel, and escapologist “Janus Stark” proved so popular the original writers, including Scott Goodall, were commissioned to write new stories.
Today, British comics companies continue to syndicate their strips and comic series on the continent, and vice versa. For example, Titan Comics titles such as Lost Fleet: Corsair have been republished in Europe, for example, while the London-based publisher has a superb range of French comics on offer in translation though its brilliant Statix reprint.
Many British other publishers also use “pooled” content generated in Europe that is reprinted in English here, including Egmont UK.
• If you’re interested in buying French editions of British comic heroes, then a visit to French web site delcampe.net, as well as eBay, is a good place to start
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