In Review: Spaceship Away Issue 32

Don Harley provides the cover of the latest issue of the Dan Dare-inspired comic Spaceship Away.

Don Harley provides the cover of the latest issue of the Dan Dare-inspired comic Spaceship Away.

The latest issue of the Dan-Dare and Eagle comic-inspired magazine Spaceship Away has just shipped to subscribers and will be available soon from the title’s web site (http://spaceshipaway.org.uk).

This issue, wrapped in a cover and back cover by Eagle and Dan Dare artist Don Harley (who also provides a wonderful Frank Hampson-inspired centre spread), features three comic strips: the continuation of “Parsecular Tales” by Tim Booth, “Journey into Space: Shadow over Britain” by Terence Patrick and “The 4th Dimension” by Ron Embleton, sensitively coloured by the talented Martin Baines.

Spaceship Away is not cheap, so I think it’s worth pointing out that the high cover price – £8.50 for a singles issue, £23 for three issues – enables the publishers to pay the comic strip creators for new art work and the licensing costs for the title. It’s printed on high quality gloss paper which really gives the comic strips and pin ups a great finish.

Also featured this issue is an excellent look back at the “Dan Dare” adventures that appeared in early issues of 2000AD, written by our very own Jeremy Briggs. Jeremy rightly points out that while some Dan Dare fans may vilify the 2000AD incarnation of their hero, it’s puzzling that given Dave Gibbons immense contribution to the stories, no-one has reprinted them. (I have suggested to several publishers that they consider reprinting these and the New Eagle “Dan Dare”, many drawn by Ian Kennedy, to no avail so far).

Massimo Belardinelli’s art on the early 2000AD adventures may also not be to everyone’s taste, but they gave the strip a distinctive appearance that very definitely indicated this would be a very different take on Dan Dare when they were first published.

While the 2000AD “Dan Dare” is well deserving of such coverage, I’ll have to admit some bias in favour of the issue’s other long form article – an overview of the many attempts to revive the Daily Mirror‘s Garth down the years – of which only one, sadly, was successful. The article includes samples my own attempt, drawn by Bill Storie, the pitch pages inked by Stephen Baskerville and Martin Baines, and the intriguing take proposed by Striker creator Pete Nash and drawn by John Cooper. It’s a shame none of them have succeeded in restoring this British comic hero to his rightful place in the daily paper (although of course the reprinting of  his earlier adventures, many drawn by Frank Bellamy, is welcome).

Spaceship Away continues to offer an enjoyable continuation of the original Dan Dare’s stories and highlight some of the great comics published down the years in Britain.

• For ordering information and back issue details visit: http://spaceshipaway.org.uk

Dan Dare and Eagle are © Dan Dare Corporation. A copy of Spaceship Away was provided for the purpose of this review

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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: Adventure Comics, British Comics, British Comics - Newspaper Strips, Featured, Reviews, SF Comics

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