Dan Dare re-imagined for 2020! (There have been a few… changes…)

Not for the first time, comic creators were recently challenged to bring a new look to 1950s space adventure hero Dan Dare, this time by ComicScene Magazine to mark his and Eagle comic’s 70th anniversary. Several artists rose to the challenge of creating, but Charlie Gillespie ran with a full-on 21st Century update and revived Dare as a woman – delivering a polished and dramatic take on the character that impressed the competition judges, who included Pat Mills and Steve MacManus.

Eagle 2020 - art by Charlie Gillespie
Eagle 2020 – art by Charlie Gillespie

An experienced 2D&3D digital artist, Charlie Gillespie, whose credits for 2000AD include “Sinister Dexter” and “Vector 13”, and “Armitage”, “Judge Anderson” and “The Inspectre” for Judge Dredd Megazine, has also been an art director of interactive apps and a lead artist for various video games companies. His work includes drawings, paintings and concepts both traditional and digital for various publications, working for companies such as Codemasters, Lionhead, Tantalus, Ideaworks and Wizards of the Coast.

ComicScene challenged creators to design an Eagle relaunch cover for 2020 in a competition judged by 2000AD founder, writer and publisher Pat Mills, who rebooted Dare for the Galaxy’s Greatest Comic and co-scripted the first story of his 1980s iteration, then wrote others, former Tharg and writer Steve MacManus, New Eagle Group Editor Barrie Tomlinson, and writer and Rebellion editor Lizzie Boyle.

Creators were briefed that they could utilise Eagle and Dan Dare from the 1950s, the 2000AD years, the 1980s New Eagle – or subsequent versions of the iconic character. Alternatively, they could give both comic and character a complete 21st Century overhaul… which is exactly what Charlie Gillespie did, to the delight of the judges.

Creators who also offered their take on the iconic character included Martin Baines – cover artist of the latest issue of ComicScene Magazine, Mal Earl, David Hill and Phillip Vaughan, whose takes were also commended.

  • Eagle 2020 - art by Martin Baines
  • Eagle 2020 - art by Mal Earl
  • Eagle 2020 - art by Morgan Gleave
  • Eagle 2020 - art by David Hill
  • Eagle 2020 - art by Phillip Vaughan

The judges also offered their views on what makes a good comics cover in their comments with Lizzie Boyle suggesting such work should be “balanced and pleasing… something that catches your eye, whether from a distance on a busy shelf in a comic shop or as one among a checkerboard of small images on a screen. For me, something that is simple and focused on core elements (but that’s personal taste), something that hints at the story inside but doesn’t tell the story. It still needs an air of mystery…”

Pat Mills praised Charles work. “It’s beautifully executed and painted,” he commented. “It’s outrageous, not least because it features a sexy character that is rather non PC.  And it not so subtly takes the piss out of the original Dan’s values which I’m not keen on. So, for me, it has a punk quality which will always press my buttons!

“I know it will piss off traditional Dan Dare fans and  that’s another reason I like it,” Pat added, who’s currently working on his own new comic, Space Warp. “I think [Frank] Hampson’s original was perfect  – a work of genius – and shouldn’t be tampered with – with versions that don’t come close to the original.

“We should simply revere the original, not keep bringing him back, as I’ve written about in the past. I learnt my lesson, I hope.”

It has been pointed out to those making adverse comments that Frank Hampson was quite happy with Dan Dare reimagined as an Irish woman when he drew his “Dawn O’Dare” strip back in 1976, the only episode drawn featuring in Ally Sloper magazine. So if it’s good enough for him, it’s good enough for anyone…

The latest issue of ComicScene Magazine is a special anniversary issue, with articles on Eagle and offers three picture strips in the original style of the 1950’s Dan Dare in a special ‘Spaceship Away’ supplement.

“We wanted to celebrate 70 years of UK comic history with a milestone edition of ComicScene,” explains the title’s editor, Tony Foster.

“It could be argued that, without Eagle and Dan Dare and the work of publisher Marcus Morris and creator Frank Hampson, we wouldn’t have seen Doctor Who, Star Wars and comics like 2000AD, Judge Dredd Megazine and even US comic classics like Watchmen and the original format of Dark Knight,” he suggests. “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.”

Follow Charles Gillespie on Twitter @cgillespieuk | Check out more of his work on ArtStation

ComicScene Magazine Issue 13 is available as a 110 digital issue and 80 page print issue, and can be ordered at www.getmycomics.com/comicscene – it is not on sale in newsagents

• Read more the ComicScene Eagle and Dan Dare art challenge here and view the entries and judges’ comments here | ComicScene is also running a Dan Dare gallery online here

Read the downthetubes guide to Dan Dare

Dan Dare collections and related books on AmazonUK (downthetubes Affiliate Link)

Dan Dare copyright Dan Dare Corporation

Spaceship Away Issue 47 - Dan Dare by Don Harley
Dan Dare by Don Harley, for Spaceship Away Issue 47

WILL THE REAL DAN DARE PLEASE STAND UP?

There have been plenty of versions of Dan Dare, as we detail here on downthetubes, but here’s a quick checklist of the best known in chronological order …

Eagle (1950 – 1969) The original Dan Dare and crew (Spaceship Away continues his adventures) – collected by Titan
Radio Luxembourg Dan Dareread the downthetubes guide and listen to a surviving episode
Dan Dare of Eagle Force – 1970s unpublished revival attempt drawn by Joe Colquhoun – read Jeremy Briggs article on downthetubes
2000AD Dan Dare – a very different take, first written by Pat Mills, with art initially by Massimo Belardinelli. His adventures were abruptly cut short. The series has been collected by Rebellion over two volumes, Volume One featuring a cover by Dave Gibbons, Volume Two a cover by Ian Kennedy
ATV’s Dan Dare TV seriesread our guide to this planned series, which made it to pre-production and casting
New Eagle – initially featuring the great-great-great-grandson of the original hero, and a descendant of Digby. Sadly, the series has not yet been collected, although Hibernia Comics did feature one short story in one of their collections, in a one shot Eagle Adventure Special.
The New Eagle Dan then “dies” and is reborn, eventually becoming the leader of a crack team fighting the Mekon
Computer Games Dan Dare, published by Virgin and others
Zenith’s Dan Dare – unrealised TV series
Mobil motor oil ads featured Dan and Digby
Revolver Dan Dare by Grant Morrison and Rian Hughes – collected in English in 1991 by Macdonald and in 2010 in Italian, by ProGlo
Planet on Sunday Dan Dare – reimagined by Sydney Jordan, but the paper published just one issue. The Jeff Hawke Fan Club blog has two articles detailing how Syd planned to revive Dan Dare for the very short-lived “Planet on Sunday” newspaper – here and here
Dan Dare – The Animated Series – developed by the Dan Dare Corporation
Virgin Comics Dan Dare by Garth Ennis and Gary Erskine
Dan Dare Audio Adventures Dan Dare, based on an unpublished version developed by John Freeman for STRIP Magazine
Titan Comics Dan Dare by Peter Milligan and art by Alberto Foche, from a story by David Leach – collected by Titan

Oh and let’s not forget all those spoofs and homages, including Danny Dare (Wham!), Diego Valor (Spain’s take), Dan Dire (Private Eye), Ham Dare (from Oink), Roy Risk, one of the British heroes killed by The Fury (Marvel UK), Sir John Dashwood (Ministry of Space), Nan Dare (VIZ), and John Harkness (Doctor Who) – and let’s give a tip of the hat here to actor Sam Worthington, who was announced in Variety as the unrealised movie Dan Dare in 2010!

WEB LINKS

• Read our list of currently available Dan Dare collections

Dan Dare collections and related books on AmazonUK (downthetubes Affiliate Link)

Read our checklist of Dan Dare comic stories published to date, compiled by John Freeman, Jeremy Briggs, Richard Sheaf and Steve Winders (Google Doc, further information always welcome)

Dan Dare copyright Dan Dare Corporation

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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.



Categories: British Comics, Comics Competitions, downthetubes Comics News, downthetubes News, SF Comics

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1 reply

  1. Seems a pointless gimmick to subject Dan to a sex change, when Dan’s original crew included an emancipated (for those days) woman in the person of Jocelyn Peabody, who could just as easily have been brought to centre stage without doing violence to the original characters.

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