There’s a bitter sweet edge to the release of the new issue of Jeff Hawke’s Cosmos (Volume 10, issue 3), because it’s also been announced that this is the penultimate issue of the magazine devoted to all things relating to the character created by Sydney Jordan.
Published in the Daily Express from 15th February 1955 to 18th April 1974, by which point Jordan had written or co-written and drawn 6,474 episodes, many of the most memorable, perhaps, with William Patterson. Alongside its British fans, the strip is hugely popular in Italy and Scandinavian countries, but has had relatively little exposure in the United States, despite some limited reprints.
A strip read in the Daily Express taken by my grand parents, only seeing an entire story in early issues of Starburst magazine, Jeff Hawke is, for me, rightly regarded by many as one of the most important science fiction comics ever released. It captured my imagination with It’s SF setting and extraterrestrial guest stars from the moment I read it, and it’s a strip well deserving of a wider readership. (Italian publishers have treated the strip with far greater respect than others).
When the Daily Express cancelled the Jeff Hawke in 1974, the Daily Record published Sydney Jordan’s new creation, a Scots hero called Lance McLane, which ran in the paper for 12 years. It’s these stories that have been published in the final issues of Cosmos. (These strips were adapted by the Daily Express in 1977 – renamed Jeff Hawke).
Featured in this issue are “and even Death may Die”, a haunting Cthulhu myths-inspired tale, suited, as Sydney Jordan notes, to the post cosmic disaster setting of the strip. “Virus” focuses on an ailing Fortuna, McLane’s female firm alien android companion, seeking a return to health from her makers, the Magicians of Anachoreta.
Given past problems with reproduction of some issues, both strips are well represented in terms of physical quality in the issue, and are well complemented, as ever by Duncan Lunan’s notes on the technology and continuity of the tales.
It’s also wonderful to see Sydney Jordan introducing the issue himself, paying tribute to the sterling work of editor William Rudling and team to provide a place for these wonderful strips to be re-presented over the past 13 years.
There will be just one more issue of Cosmos – a special, out in April, featuring four strips – “Message for Medusa”, Time’s Jest”, “Out of the Ecliptic” and “Song for Methuselah”. But the good news is that it’s not the end of the Jeff Hawke Fan Club, which will continue to exist as a place for people to acquire back issues and (for 2018 at least) as a place for three exciting new projects.
It would be wonderful if one future project saw John Ridgway get the chance to complete his colour version of the Earthspace stories, in the three-tier per page format that I think works well, utilised by IDW on their collections of strips such as strips Al Williamson’s X-9 Secret Agent Corrigan and Russ Manning’s Tarzan. Fingers crossed!
This issue of Cosmos also includes space news, including an outline of NASA’s current schedule for its planned space exploration into the 2030s, artwork for sale and an extended report on recent Club events.
This project and its spin-offs is deserving of support from SF fans. Do check it out.
• Jeff Hawke’s Cosmos (Volume 10, issue 3) – 92 pages, A4. Available to members of the Jeff Hawke Club, along with back issues – find out more on the Club web site