The latest issue of the Eagle-inspired Spaceship Away, available now, comes with another great cover from veteran artist Don Harley inspired by the original “Dan Dare” tale “The Ship that Lived”, and includes a great bonus Christmas gift – a 24-page “Dan Dare” prose story The Swords of the Martyrs by New Zealand-based writer Denis Steeper.
Published three times a year, the first “Dan Dare” strip in this issue, drawn by Tim Booth, has a distinctly Christmas flavour to some of its pages, much like the original Eagle would have done.
The line up is as follows:
• Dan Dare stars in “Mercury Revenant” and “Parsecular Tales” by Tim Booth
• Andrew Darlington reviews the final fifteen Dan Dare Eagle Annual stories of the second decade and beyond
• A complete Jet Morgan Annual “The Space Castaway”, written by Charles Chilton and drawn by Bruce Cornwell
• Alan Vince looks at the attempt to produce a Dan Dare television series in the 1980s by ATV, something we’ve covered on downthetubes as part of our re-presentation of articles in the fanzine, Eagle Flies Again, but Alan’s research has revealed a lot more detail about the failed project
• Don Harley’s impressive centrespread complements Alan’s article by showing Dan and his friends, based on Keith Watson’s designs for the series
• John Lawrence reviews SF illustrator Ron Turner’s 1950s hero Space Ace
• Models from Dan Dare’s World depicts The Mekon
• This issues’s cutaway from Graham Bleathman is a Treen Interceptor which was not included in the recent Dan Dare Haynes Manual
• This issue’s 1950s memorabilia features a rare Dan Dare remote control helicopter
• A back cover painting of the Anastasia leaving Mars Station, by 1960s Gerry Anderson TV series designer Mike Trim
Speaking personally, I can’t say I’m hugely impressed by the Jet Morgan reprint this issue but the features are great. Alan Vince’s article is particularly fascinating and the work by Graham Bleathman and Don Harley top notch.
I’d also have to say I find Tim Booth’s well meant intent to capture the essence of Dan Dare as he originally appeared in the Eagle a little wearing. There’s no disputing he skilfully capture the sense of wonder that the original stories were filled with, with plenty of wonderful alien mystery to his stories, I find the dialogue at times a trifle wooden.
My feeling is that the format of the title doesn’t do Tim’s work justice: it feels very compressed, which I think wouldn’t be the caseif the title was produced at Eagle size, as the number of frames per page don’t work well within the A4 format. Like Lew Stringer, I’d have to agree that the use of Comic Sans as a lettering font is also a negative factor.
All that said, if you’re a hard core Dare fan, Tim’s attention to the series original continuity will have much appeal.
Perhaps a “Dan Dare” strip by a different artist (or indeed, another strip with a different character entirely) might be worth considering in future issues. Past editions have featured some great “Garth” re-presentations, for example.
I’m conscious that I may be appearing over critical of the issue. There’s no disputing the hard work of the editorial team when it comes to continuing the Dan Dare mythos and it’s hugely appreciated.
Spaceship Away costs £8.50 per issue, which may may sound steep but with a low print run the high price reflects the cost of production, as all contributors get paid for their work on the title. If you’re fan of the Eagle and “Dan Dare”, Spaceship Away remains, for now, your only post of call for new stories featuring Britain’s best-known comic hero.
• To find out more about Spaceship Away and to buy your copy and back issues, visit: http://spaceshipaway.org.uk