Early “Dan Dare” and other British comic art offered in upcoming Heritage Auction

Art from an episode of the “Dan Dare” story “Operation Saturn“, created for the original Eagle comic, is going under the hammer at Heritage Auctions soon, along with some other great artworks by creators including Mick Austin, Carlos Ezquerra and Don Lawrence.

Art by Frank Hampson and studio for "Dan Dare - Operation Saturn", first published in Eagle Volume 4 No. 24, cover dated 18th September 1953
Art by Frank Hampson and studio for “Dan Dare – Operation Saturn”, first published in Eagle Volume 4 No. 24, cover dated 18th September 1953

Although the lot description credits only Frank Hampson, the art was the work of his studio which then included Harold Johns, Greta Tomlinson and Desmond Walduck.

Heritage describes the board, which is offered with a copy of the same issue of Eagle in which appeared, as being in good condition, created in ink and watercolour over graphite on three illustration board sections joined with tape. They have a combined image area of 14.25″ x 18.5″. Toned, with discoloured tape and tape residue. The logo, header banner, title box, and first caption are all printed paste-ups.

The art is being offered as part of the International Comic Art and Anime Signature Auction #7273, running 30th September – 2nd October 2022, which also includes work by British and European artists such as Mick Austin (including several of his Doctor Who pages) Simon Bisley, Brian Bolland, John Bolton, Mark Buckingham, Steve Dillon, Carlos Ezquerra, Duncan Fegredo, Gary Frank (with Cam Smith), Dave Gibbons, Ian Gibson, Jean Giraud, Bryan Hitch, Don Lawrence (two beautiful “Trigan Empire” pages), Dave McKean, Milo Manara, Kevin O’Neill, Frank Quitely, Nick Percival, Sanjulian,and more. Plus, of course, art by many American artists including Neal Adams, John Buscema, Will Eisner and others.

Operation Saturn“, originally published over 65 two-page episodes, was written by Frank Hampson and ‘Don Riley’, who was really Basil Dawson, a radio and TV scriptwriter, who also wrote the Dan Dare novel, Dan Dare on Mars. His radio credits include scripts for Dick Barton.

"Dan Dare - Operation Saturn", first published in Eagle Volume 4 No. 24, cover dated 18th September 1953
The art as published back in 1953

In “Operation Saturn“, Dan Dare is to take part in an expedition to Saturn to investigate the origin of strange miniature spacecraft, nicknamed “Black Cats” by Spacefleet. The expedition is to be led by a scientist named Blasco, who turns out to be more than he appears…

The story was most recently collected by Titan Books back in 2005, over two volumes, the first including the final part of a rarely seen interview with Dan Dare’s creator, Frank Hampson, plus features on Dan Dare merchandise; the second also featuring two Eagle Annual stories, “Operation Triceratops” and “The Planulid”, plus a Frank Hampson sketchbook, and “The Way to Space” interviews with “Eagle’s” “backroom boys”, Dare artist Frank Hampson, centrespread artist Leslie Ashwell Wood, and scientific advisor James Hemming.

Dan Dare – downthetubes Profile Page

Dan Dare Books – A Guide

Dan Dare © Dan Dare Corporation

Categories: Art and Illustration, Auctions, British Comics, Comic Art, Comics, Doctor Who, downthetubes Comics News, downthetubes News, Events, Other Worlds, Television

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1 reply

  1. Ill health meant that Frank Hampson crashed out of Operation Saturn at around the time in the story that Dan and Digby land on Saturn’s moon Phoebe. After that, the strip deteriorated into juvenile silliness from which it never recovered. Frank Hampson always treated his readers as adults, not so his successors. It looks as if the episodes discussed here come from that period of decline. After that, Frank Hampson was a presence, contributing the occasional cameo frame, but the strip’s narrative was in other and – IMO – inferior hands.

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