David Britton of the Eagle Society pays tribute to Dan Dare and Thunderbirds artist Don Harley, who died earlier this week.
Our full tribute to Don will be published soon.
It was with great sadness that I learned of the passing of Don Harley. On behalf of the Eagle Society, I would like to express our deepest sympathy to his family for their loss, but also the loss of someone who added so much colour to our childhoods.
On a personal note, I knew Don Harley a long time, but for how long, I cannot remember. But there are two aspects to Don that I will always remember, he was a brilliant illustrator, described by Frank Hampson as “the second- best Dan Dare artist” and a very modest, gentlemanly and kind man.
At the unveiling of the bust of Dan Dare in Southport on 15th April 2000, to mark the 50th Anniversary of the launch of EAGLE, it took a great deal of persuasion on my part to get Don to join the group for the official photographs. He preferred to remain anonymous. Eventually he succumbed and I was pleased that he was able to share in the recognition that he so richly deserved.
Don’s modesty was also reflected in his comment when he expressed to me his failure to understand the interest that surrounded EAGLE and in particular, Dan Dare. He always saw producing such fine artwork, as “just a job to me, to be done well. I don’t understand all the fuss”.
I tried to explain what his work meant to my generation!
I also appreciated his involvement when we had an “Art Day” in Bristol, at the Dan Dare exhibition that I organised with Howard Smith at the Central Museum and Art Gallery in 2002. He and Greta Edwards (neé Tomlinson) spent the day helping young and not so young visitors improve their drawing skills.
I know that there will be many people who will want to express their admiration, thanks, condolences and personal memories for the loss of such a fine artist and man.
For those of us in the Eagle Society, it is an irreplaceable loss.
Our full tribute to Don Harley will be published soon.
• Eagle Times, the journal of the Eagle Society, is published four times a year and the subscription for 2021 will remain at £30 for the four issues (£45 for overseas subscribers). This year’s issues (Volume 45) will be Published on 31st March, 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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