The latest issue of the Dan Dare-inspired Spaceship Away (Issue 33) includes a great free gift – a “How to Speak Mercurian” booklet, attributed to Dan Dare’s top scientist, Jocelyn Peabody.
Dan Dare fans will recall the strip’s Mercurians sang rather than spoke in the long-running original strip in the Eagle, and an unnamed writer has put together a guide to their language based on what was published in the comic in strips such as “Classic Dan Dare: Marooned on Mercury.
The booklet ties in with the start of a new “Dan Dare” tale from Tim Booth in the new issue featuring another great cover by Eagle veteran Don Harley. “Mercury Revenant” is one of two Dare tales from the artist-writer as his “Parsecular Tales” continues. The tale sees the return of an old spaceship – and with it, of course, a terrible danger for Spacefleet.
The issue also features a fun one-off SF tale, “Terror From Moon 33” drawn by Ron Turner, written by Andrew Darlington and coloured by Martin Baines; and the final episode of the Jet Morgan tale “Shadow over Britain”.
The features this issue should have wider interest than just for Dan Dare fans as Eagle veteran Joan Porter offers a fascinating insight into the workings of The Bakehouse, the original studio that produced the Eagle, led by Frank Hampson. Her detail about the colouring process for “Dan Dare” should interest comic colourists and the article is complemented by artwork from Don Harley re-creating a typical day in the studio.
Accompanied by a simply gorgeous pin up page by John M. Burns of a young Dan Dare junior is an article by Alan Vince on comics legend Dennis Gifford and his plan to revive Dan Dare in Reveille magazine in the 1970s – a plan allegedly spiked by IPC’s John Sanders. It’s a fascinating insight into another Dan Dare revival that sadly never happened, and some of the darker aspects of the British comic industry.
While it would appear on the surface that the plan to revive Dan Dare was spiked because IPC had already decided to feature the character in 2000AD, the timeline suggests there may simply have been some company politics and an antagonism between IPC’s directors and Dennis Gifford that killed the Reveille plan, proposed some 11 months before 2000AD launched in 1977.
The issue also features a great “Reign of the Robots”-inspired back page pin up by Nick Spender and an article on writer and artist Terry Maloney by Andrew Darlington.
• To buy or subscribe to Spaceship Away, visit: http://spaceshipaway.org.uk. A single issue costs £8.50 but the high cover price for this limited run title ensures contributors are paid for their sterling work
• Marooned on Mercury has most recently been collected by Titan Books, whose Dan Dare collections feature every regular Dan Dare strip up to “Trip to Trouble” and “Operation Nimbus”