Review by Richard Sheaf
I’ve been a reader of the magazine of the Jeff Hawke club, Jeff Hawke’s Cosmos, ever since its launch nearly 20 years ago (yikes!). With a title like The Epilogue it is perhaps not a surprise that this latest publication by the club marks the end of the “Jeff Hawke” strip. It’s not, however, the end of publications from the Club, as you’ll find out below, but a “regular” magazine will no longer be produced.
Running to over 150 A4 pages with a full colour cover by William Rudling, The Epilogue is a bumper issue. As ever, it features a number of complete stories – in this case “A Message for Medusa”, “Time’s Jest!”, “Out of the Ecliptic” and the few episodes of the final story, “Song for Methuselah”, published before the strip was ignominiously cancelled.
The Epilogue also includes a number of smaller articles which – and I stress I mean this in a positive way – have the feeling of having been taken from the “…this must get published before we run out of issues to publish stuff in” folder.
On offer then, are Jeff Hawke creator Sydney Jordan, with his fleeting memoir of Fleet Street, and Sydney also talks to Chris Tubb about the strip and its creation; the final count-up of the number of strips; guest appearances in the strip; a history of the club; a look at those that have contributed so much to the club and and more besides.
This is all in addition to the usual features such as the astronomy notes, “The sky Above You”, and the most detailed set of notes about a comic strip that you’ll ever read, provided by Duncan Lunan.
In all, a really interesting selection of articles and some rare vintage photos, too – all the sort of stuff I love!
It seems unlikely that anyone will be coming to the strip ‘cold’ at this point and in some ways I’d advise you not to. As much as possible, Cosmos has tried to publish the Jeff Hawke stories in chronological order so these strips here are in some ways not where I’d recommend starting. Instead, I’d really recommend going back to the beginning (via the two Titan books reprints perhaps, often offered on eBay or AmazonUK, or the Italian editions) and “dipping your toes in the water” there. If you like what you read then come back to Cosmos for more. Lots more!
In fact you might want to come back for the next Cosmos publication – Devil’s Advocate. This will feature all the Jeff Hawke strips that were introduced by “The Devil” as a framing device, along with a complete index of Jeff Hawke stories, all cross-referenced to the Cosmos issues. Look out for this in later in the year.
The art style in these classic stories is much more detailed and much more my cup of tea than the stories in Epilogue (and other later issues of Cosmos) which definitely feature some gratuitous images of the lead female character in her skintight jumpsuit.
Not that the expectations of Jeff Hawke readers at time of original publication should put you off from reading these adventures, Jeff Hawke is an intelligent SF story with incredible plots fitted, somehow, into three panels a day in a national newspaper. I doubt we will see the like again.
It’s been a pleasure spending 20 years getting to know Jeff Hawke through Cosmos, and William Rudling is to be congratulated on bringing the complete Jeff Hawke canon to us all – without him, English speaking fans would still only have those Titan Books reprints to savour.
• To order a copy of Jeff Hawke – Cosmos, available back issues and more check out the Jeff Hawke Club online at .jeffhawkeclub.co.uk | Contact by post via Editorial Office, The Jeff Hawke Club, 6 The Close, Alwoodley, Leeds LS17 7RD UK | Email: firstname.lastname@example.org | Please note, there is a one-off entry fee to join the club of £2.50
The Jeff Hawke Club was formed in 2001, with the aim of bringing the Jeff Hawke science-fiction stories to a wider public. The club is a unique and very successful publishing venture, re-printing for the first time ever the entire run of Jeff Hawke stories.
Created and drawn by Sydney Jordan, Jeff Hawke ran consecutively as a syndicated strip in two British newspapers from 1954 until 1988 and was a SF strip aimed at an adult audience. Its themes are subtle and thought provoking – its artwork mature and realistic. The entire corpus comprises 111 stories and until the Jeff Hawke Club began its work only six of these were available in reprinted form in English.
To date, since its formation, the club, with the full co-operation and encouragement of Sydney Jordan, has re-published 93 of the stories in a series of large format books, which reproduce the strips (from originals in the newspaper archives) at their original size. Accompanying each story are extensive notes, both by Sydney, and by well known science author and collaborator Duncan Lunan .
• In addition to Cosmos, the Club are also (in colour) some prints,, drawn by Sydney Jordan – contact the editorial office for more details.
• You can also purchase original Jeff Hawke art direct from Sydney Jordan himself – again, details are in the magazines
Richard Sheaf received a free copy of ‘The Epilogue’ to review, as did downthetubes
This review first featured on the Boys Adventure Comics Blog and is cross posted with permission