The latest issue of Eagle Times – the first of 2021 – offers a great selection of items looking at the original Eagle comic, including a rare examination of the creation of a “Dan Dare” epic tale, “The Phantom Fleet”, complete with fascinating glimpses of the original scripts.
The article, by Ernest Reed, delves into the work put into “The Phantom Fleet” by the creative team on “Dan Dare”, a long-running story first published in Eagle in 1958. Thanks to fellow fan David Gould, Ernest is able to include images of story synopses and more, which provide an idea of how much work went into the story, and changes made along the way, particularly after changes suggested by Dan Dare creator Frank Hampson.
Intriguingly, notes on the strip are included from the strip’s “scientific advisor”, James Hemming, an indication of how much background work went into creating the weekly comic’s lead and, and most would agree, its most important strip.
Also in this issue, David Britton continues his ongoing study of Charle Chilton’s “Riders of the Range“, with the war with Geronimo in the spotlight, and continues his look at an Eagle strip that never happened, in Part Three of “The Story of a Train That Went Nowhere“, a story pitch by Christopher Meyer.
We’re also treated to a new text story, “The Case of the Plastic Cowboys“, by Steve Winders, featuring Archie Berkeley-Willoughby of Scotland Yard, insights from Jeremy Briggs into the creation of one of L. Ashwell Wood‘s memorable cutaways, a staple of Eagle for many years, this time of the temporary BBC television studio at the 1953 National Radio Show Exhibition, at Earl’s Court.
“I have the original paper blueprint that Wood added his notes to,” says Jeremy. “This cutaway eluded me for a long time, as the Eagle version does not use the correct name of the then annual exhibition so the blueprint title does not tie in with the cutaway title,. However, I finally tripped over the cutaway when I was looking for something else through 1953 Eagles and the unique shape of the temporary studio looked familiar.”
Steve Winders also provides a fascinating guide to the final back page “Biography Comic” to run in Eagle, “The Golden Man“, about Sir Walter Raleigh, written by Marcus Morris and Guy Daniel, with art by Robert Ayton. As with his past features, Steve provides both an insight into the strip – sadly, never reprinted in the UK, as far as I am aware – along with background notes, noting historical inconsistencies and more. These features have been a great read in previous issues of Eagle Times, and this is no different.
This issue of Eagle Times also features another great look at more production materials for “Dan Dare” in the ongoing “Studio Ideas Book” and there’s a look, too, at the more recent “adult” Ladybird books, challenging the magazine’s knowledgeable core readership to identify the Eagle artists whose work has been used in titles published in recent years by Dung Beetle and Penguin.
(Presumably, the answers will appear in the next issue those of us who may still be racking their brains by then!).
If you’re a Dan Dare or Eagle fan, Eagle Times complements other publications such as Spaceship Away very nicely. Why not give it a try?
• Eagle Times is published four times a year and the subscription for 2021 will remain at £30 for the four issues (£45 for overseas subscribers). Thie nect issues for this year (Volume 34) will be published on 30th June, 30th September and 14th December
Postal applications and back issue enquiries to: Eagle Society Membership Secretary Bob Corn, Wellcroft Cottage, Wellcroft, Ivinghoe, Buckinghamshire LU7 9EF
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It’s chocks away once again as Dan Dare, Pilot of the Future, returns! First published in classic British comic Eagle, this is perhaps the most seminal adventure of one of Britain’s best-loved characters, presented in a gorgeous library edition. When transmissions are disrupted throughout the Solar System and spaceships – including one carrying Sir Hubert – disappear, Dan and Co set out to discover what’s going on.
They find a fleet of huge alien craft containing peaceful aquatic creatures called Cosmobes, who are fleeing from another aquatic race, the warlike Pescods. But the Pescods have a deadly weapon, the ‘Crimson Death’ and they’re heading for Earth! Will Dan and his crew be able to once again save the day?