Lost Dan Dare: “Return to Terra Nova” by John Ridgway and Nick Spender

We’re currently running a series of articles by Jeremy Briggs on attempts down the decades to either relaunch Eagle, or create a comic on similar lines. In that spirit, here’s a couple of pages from a  lost Dan Dare project, “Return to Terra Nova“, written by John Ridgway with art by Nick Spender.

The strip was planned for the Dan Dare Corporation-licensed magazine Spaceship Away, and John Ridgway asked Nick to provide strip art for it – but, unfortunately, the team only got to complete two pages of art before the project was cancelled.

Dan Dare - Return toTerra Nova by John Ridgway and Nick Spender - Page 1

Dan Dare - Return toTerra Nova by John Ridgway and Nick Spender - Page 2

“Return to Terra Nova” would have featured new Dan Dare adventures styled after the classic Eagle stories “Safari in Space” and “Terra Nova“, telling stories of Dare’s adventures beyond our Solar System.

By the early 1960s, original creator Frank Hampson, like SF authors of the day, was very conscious that astronomy and space exploration were revealing the real solar system was proving very different in reality to the way it had been imagined in early “Dan Dare” stories. John has said Frank’s plan was always to take Dan Dare away from our Earth and avoid the issues caused – but of course, he was removed from the strip, and Frank Bellamy’s subsequent stories returned Dare home.

Seeking to avoid the issues out-dated science and technology played with the character’s early tales, John sought to update the Dan Dare mythos in a fashion very much in keeping with the atmosphere and characterisation of the original stories – something I discussed with him while working on my take for the Dan Dare stories originally planned for STRIP Magazine, which ultimately provided the background to B7 Media’s award-winning Dan Dare Audio Adventures.

“Dan and Digby were going back to Terra Nova when it was believed there was a chance Dan’s father was still alive,” says John, teasing his plot. “My story explained some strange features from the original ‘Terra Nova’ story. There was to have been far more than simply exploring that planet.”

Nick drew the art for these two pages and coloured them up in Photoshop – and John lettered the pages from his script.

Dan Dare - Anastasia Render by John Ridgway

Dan Dare – Anastasia Render by John Ridgway

John Ridgway's ship designs for the sadly abandoned Dan Dare tale "Return to Terra Nova"

John Ridgway’s ship designs for the sadly abandoned Dan Dare tale “Return to Terra Nova”

“On the first page John had rendered some excellent images of the new spaceships in 3d,” says Nick, whose credits include illustration work and a superb self-published Dambusters strip “and I converted them back into line drawings, hopefully following the Hampson style.”

• You can find John Ridgway here on Facebook and Nick Spender is online at www.nickspender.com

Read the introduction to Jeremy Briggs lost Eagle project series here | Part One | Part Two

Dan Dare books on Amazon UK (Affiliate Link)

Dan Dare © Dan Dare Corporation

The founder of downthetubes, which he established in 1998. John works as a comics and magazine editor, writer, and on promotional work for the Lakes International Comic Art Festival. Working in British comics publishing since the 1980s, his credits include editor of titles such as Doctor Who Magazine, Star Trek Explorer (previously known as Star Trek Magazine) and more. He also edited the comics anthology STRIP Magazine and edited several audio comics for ROK Comics. He has also edited several comic collections, including volumes of “Charley’s War and “Dan Dare”. He’s the writer of "Pilgrim: Secrets and Lies" for B7 Comics; “Crucible”, a creator-owned project with 2000AD artist Smuzz; and “Death Duty” and “Skow Dogs” with Dave Hailwood.

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