Andrew Skilleter pays tribute to fellow artist Greta Edwards, nee Tomlinson, one of the core creative team on the original “Dan Dare” and other strips for Eagle, who passed earlier this month…
I first met Greta at her lovely home in Haselmere, Surrey. My wife, Molly, and I travelled up from Southbourne, Bournemouth where we lived, and as a point of interest, just a five minute walk from where the great Ron Embleton was living.
In 1985 we had published The Man Who Drew Tomorrow, the Frank Hampson biography written by Alastair Crompton and consequently Greta invited us to meet with her. We talked in the living room first and then she took us to lunch in her gold coloured Mercedes. That car stays in my mind!
I so wish I could remember the details of the conversations. But Molly and I both remember she did not like the photograph of her we used in the book! Oops. She showed us a lot of her work and we bought two of her artworks, both figurative with paint and collage and reminiscent of theatrical costume designs. We still have them.
We kept in touch, but I didn’t meet Greta again until an Eagle event at Charterhouse School, Godalming, near to where she lived. I have a photograph of us us both which I of course can’t lay my hands on now I need it. The last time we met was when she was visiting nearby where we lived at the time in Parkstone, Poole. Not being able to drive combined with being a very busy freelancer meant I missed out on many possible meetings and events that she attended.
We’d exchange cards and phone calls over the years right up to this early 2021. We hit it off on the phone and the calls were mutually enjoyable with conversations covering art, her “Dan Dare” years, of course, latterly her failing sight and the frustration that caused her as an artist.
It was heartening to hear from her daughter that Greta really enjoyed our chats. What came across later last year was her frustration with her inability to achieve anything, and as a doer myself I can so relate to that. It was her loss of vision that robbed her of the enjoyment of any creative activity. But she remained stoic.
In recent times she had a live in carer which while not ideal, at least kept in her home of some 50 years until the very end. She was a remarkable person with an indomitable spirit who’d had an interesting life.
It is the end of long life and an era. She will be terribly missed by her daughter, Francesca and her family and many others who just can’t help thinking of her, just a bit, as the young blonde Professor Peabody waltzing into Dan’s quarters. Bless you, Greta.
Andrew Skilleter, Wareham, September 2021
• Today a much-in-demand illustrator, back in 1964 Andrew Skilleter, together with Eric MacKenzie, created the Dan Dare Newsletter, one of the earliest examples of published British comic fandom. He published the first edition of The Man Who Drew Tomorrow, Alastair Crompton’s story of the then recently-deceased Dan Dare creator, Frank Hampson, in 1985, re-released by PS Books in 2011 as Tomorrow Revisited