Snapshots in Time: British comics editors on a night out in the 1950s

Dan Dare writer and author David Motton has unearthed a wonderful snapshot from his early days while working on British comics that he has kindly shared with downthetubes.

“Very recently, my son Gregory (vide ‘Dan Dare All Treens Must Die’, as Prime Minister) and myself embarked upon a project to gather together the many family photographs which range from ladies in crinoline, sepia postcards, Box Brownie snapshots, transparencies and so on to the present day almost all of them unnamed,” he tells us. “We are matching them as far as possible to the various stalks of our family tree.

Found in a tin in the back of a cupboard was this photograph from a social event in the 1950s, which many readers may find interesting.

“I cannot remember the occasion,” says David, but it would have been most likely in 1954, several years before my Dan Dare era, but when I would already have been a sub editor on The Sun (comic), writing ‘Jet Ace Logan’ and ‘Max Bravo, The Happy Hussar’.”

The Sun comic (originally, simply Sun) was launched in November 1947 by publisher J. B. Allen, changing from weekly to fortnightly during its run. It had previously been a health magazine called Fitness and Sun. The publisher was taken over by the Amalgamated Press in 1949, and under the first editor Leonard Matthews it featured fewer humour strips and more adventure stories. The title ran until October 1959, when it was merged into Lion.

Comics Writer David Motton, 1954

Pictured are, second from left, Trevor Chrismas, then a sub on Thriller Comics and later editor of Mickey Mouse Weekly, David with his future wife Bernadette Clancy; and George Marler, who at the time was freelancing as a letterer and background artist for Geoff Campion. George later became editor of TV Comic. On his knee is Barbara Hutton, later to become his wife.

“George, Trevor and myself went as part of a group once a week to evening classes at St Martin’s School of Art,” David tells us. “That is where George and Barbara met.”

Unfortunately, David cannot recall the name of Trevor’s partner at the event (far left). Does anyone recognise her?

“Trevor dropped out of sight for a while before appearing on Mickey Mouse,” David recalls. “The Disney set up was rather remote from the Fleet Street/ Fleetway/ Odhams world.”

David Motton in the offices of Amalgamated Press in the 1960s

David Motton in the offices of Amalgamated Press in the 1960s

After finishing his National Service, David Motton, interviewed here on downthetubes, began his 30-year career in comics as a freelance writer working on the Fleetway title The Sun comic, a title he would become the editor of in its final year. He went on to edit both Knockabout and Film Fun.

Now retired, across a 30-year career David’s many writing credits include “Space Patrol” and some “Doctor Who” stories for TV Comic, “Burke’s Law” for TV Century 21, “The Guinea Pig” for Eagle, “Jet-Ace Logan”, “Max Bravo, The Happy Hussar”, “Skid Solo” for Tiger , “The Woodentops” for Pippin and, later, “Desperate Dan” for Dandy as well as strips for the comics Bunty, Debbie, Hotspur, Judy, Mandy, Wizard and more.

In 1962, following IPC purchase of Eagle from Odhams, David was hired to take over the writing duties of “Dan Dare” from Eric Eden and continued to write the strip until 1966, making him one of the longest serving writers of Dan Dare in its history.

Titan recently published Dan Dare: The Evil One, a black and white collection of several adventures written by David and drawn by Keith Watson, which includes our interview with David and a glimpse at some of his original scripts.

Read our interview with David Motton here

Buy Dan Dare: The Evil One from AmazonUK (Affiliate Link)

Dan Dare books on AmazonUK(Affiliate Link)

Our thanks to David for sharing this picture

The founder of downthetubes, John works as a comics editor, writer, as Creative Consultant on the Dan Dare audio adventures for B7 Media, and on promotional work for the Lakes International Comic Art Festival. Working in British comics publishing for over 30 years, his credits include editor of titles such as Doctor Who Magazine, Star Trek Magazine and Babylon 5 Magazine. He also edited the comics anthology STRIP Magazine and edited several audio comics for ROK Comics. He has also edited several comic collections, including volumes of “Charley’s War and “Dan Dare”. He’s the writer of “Crucible”, a creator-owned project with 2000AD artist Smuzz, published on Tapastic; and “Death Duty” and “Skow Dogs” with Dave Hailwood for digital comic 100% Biodegradable.



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