The sculpted Head of Christ created by the Dan Dare studios for Frank Hampson to draw Jesus for his Eagle, strip “The Road of Courage”, is being auctioned on eBay by current owner Dave Westaway.
When Eagle artist and co-creator Frank Hampson and Dan Dare were parted, the publishers sent him to the Holy Land where he sketched many scenes and especially faces in preparation for his perhaps best-known work beyond Dare – “The Road of Courage”, a very humanist take on the story of Jesus.
“The Road of Courage” was first published in Eagle in 1960 and ran for 56 episodes, neatly timed to end over Easter Week 1961. The Lost Characters of Frank Hampson site notes that Frank said of his work: ‘Considering the Christian ethos associated with Eagle, ‘The Road of Courage’ seemed almost a duty. I know I worked harder on it than on anything I’d ever done.
“At best one could only present one facet of a complex story,” he explained. “I tried to get away from the woolly never-never land of the Sunday School stories of my youth, and show the harsh political realities of turbulent, rebellious Palestine, when the Jews were seething with revolt against Rome.”
(At the time he drew the strip Frank was a convinced atheist; it wasn’t until much later in life that he turned to Catholicism, in search of an explanation and of meaning).
In addition to his researches in Palestine, Frank also composed a likeness that he believed was a plausible face of Jesus, which was crafted mainly thanks to the skill of the studios sculptor, Max Dunlop. The head was created life-size and enabled Frank to adjust its position, helping him to whatever angles he intended to draw from.
This was probably the last item to come from the Dan Dare Studios before it was wound down.
The head stayed in the Hampson household until Dave Westaway bought it 12 years ago from Frank’s son, Peter. “The Head is very very heavy,” Dave notes. “You can see … that it has stayed in surprisingly good condition for about 55 years old. There are small cracks which could be filled in easily if wanted.
“Apart from the weight I think it would be too risky to entrust it to the postal services so and buyer would need to pick it up from my home in Exmouth, Devon.”
This is a very striking item. You only have to look at the most recent collection of the “The Road of Courage”, published by Titan Books, to see how authentic the Head and pictures are.
The Head is only available to a buyer within the United Kingdom.