New EAGLE Times celebrates “Girl” comic, a pioneering weekly of the 1950s

The Autumn issue of EAGLE Times (Volume 35, No. 3), is out now, an issue leading with a look at sister comic to the ground-breaking boys comic, Girl, which was equally pioneering.

EAGLE Times (Volume 35, No. 3)

A weekly comic magazine for girls, which, like EAGLE, was founded by the Reverend Marcus Morris, Girl was published from 1951 to 1964. Launched by Hulton Press as a sister paper to the Eagle, it survived Hultons’ acquisition by Odhams Press in 1959 and Odhams’ merger into IPC in 1963, but was merged into Princess in 1964. (It shouldn’t be confused with the comic of the same name, published by IPC from 1981 to 1990).

For those unfamiliar, Girl served up a rich diet of career girl heroines, middle class culture, and private school antics, its career girl, adventure and mystery stories taking its readers into the worlds of ballerinas, horse riding, and more. Very much an “educational” magazine, the title also included pages dedicated to real life tales of heroic women, in various fields.

The opening page of “Wendy and Jinx”, from Girl Annual Number Six

Across its impressive and perhaps underrated run, strips included “Kitty Hawke and her All-Girl Air Crew”, drawn by Ray Bailey, about a group of women running a charter airline, later replaced on the cover by the schoolgirl strip “Wendy and Jinx”, written by Michael and Valerie Hastings, also drawn by Bailey; “Angela Air Hostess”, written by Betty Roland and drawn by Dudley Pout; “Belle of the Ballet” by George Beardmore and Stanley Houghton; “Emergency Ward 10”, based on the TV series, drawn by Eric Dadswell; “Lettice Leefe” – the greenest girl in the school, by Captain Pugwash creator John Ryan; “Penny Starr”, written by Doctor Who script writer Peter Ling and Sheilah Ward; the long-running “Susan of St. Bride’s”, a series about a student nurse, by Ruth Adam and Peter Kay; “The Untold Arabian Nights” by Geoffrey Bond and Cecil Langley Doughty; and “White Queen of Calabar”, drawn by Gerald Haylock, who would later draw, “UFO” and “Thunderbirds” for Countdown comic, and “Doctor Who”, for TV Action. He contributed numerous stories for Girl, and covers for Schoolgirls’ Picture Library.

Alongside David Britton’s informative Girl feature in EAGLE Times, we’re also treated to articles on Dan Dare’s lesser known rivals, girls in EAGLE, “Luck of the Legion”, the Canadian Pacific Railway and a report on the Eagle Society’s 2022 Gathering in Greenwich.

There are two instalments of “In and Out of the EAGLE”, about the artist Fortunino Matania, and the radio hero, Dick Barton, the first episode of a new Sergeant Archie Berkeley-Willoughby adventure, and the text of Steve Winders’ talk at the Society’s Gathering.

Sadly, this issue is also tinged with sadness at the loss of Dan Dare expert, Adrian Perkins, a leading light in the long-running fan organisation.

He was greatly involved in Dan Dare fandom for over forty years, including being a key member of the EAGLE Times editorial team, and will be missed. Our sympathies to family and friends.

• Membership of the Eagle Society is via Annual Subscription to Eagle Times magazine, which is published four times annually. Please make cheques payable to the ‘Eagle Society’. The current subscription rate is £30, Overseas £40 (in £s Sterling, please) | Postal applications to: Eagle Society Membership Secretary Bob Corn, Wellcroft Cottage, Wellcroft, Ivinghoe, Bucks LU7 9EF | Web: eagle-times.blogspot.com | Enquiries: membership@eagle-society.org.uk

If you wish to pay by Paypal (from your Paypal account to the e-mail address above) – The Society request that you make your payment as a GIFT)

Web Links

British Girls’ Comics: Girl – Pioneer of a New Trend

Art of Fortunino Matania: Illustration Art Gallery Presents a Catalogue of Art & Prints: Illustration Art Gallery Presents a Catalogue of Art and Prints

Born in Naples in 1881, Fortunino Matania trained at his father’’s studio and illustrated his first book at the age of 14. He studied in Paris, Milan and London, where he worked on The Graphic. He returned to Italy at the age of 22 for military service in the Bersaglieri. He returned to London, where he joined the staff of The Sphere. At the end of World War One, Matania illustrated numerous ceremonies in London, including the coronation of Edward VII.

During the first half of the 20th century, he literally illustrated history as it happened. He was made a Chevalier of the Crown of Italy, and exhibited regularly at the Royal Academy and The Royal Institute of Art. In his studio he maintained an enormous collection of artefacts to aid him in his work. He rarely made preliminary sketches, preferring to begin an elaborate illustration without previous preparation. It was as if he had an exact mental photograph of the art of before he began to paint or draw.

His reputation was such that he was visited in his studio in London by Annigoni, Russell Flint and John Singer Sargent and his work is collected and admired by many of today’’s greatest artists and illustrators.

Girl © Rebellion Publishing Ltd

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.



Categories: British Comics, Comics, downthetubes Comics News, downthetubes News, Magazines

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1 reply

  1. The Eagle stable of comix was an excellent project which lost its way. The great strength of the early Eagle was that it treated its readership as adults, rather as W.E.Johns did in his Biggles books. It provided excellent role models: Dan Dare had all the true British qualities – courage, initiative, toleration, and Professor Jocelyn Peabody was a proto-feminist, embodying all the traditional male virtues while retaining her femininity. Their boss, Sir Hubert Guest, Head of the Interplanet Space Fleet, was shown as a man of wisdom and integrity, but a bit old-fashioned, a bit of a fuddy duddy. This general attitude was reflected in Girl, with the lead story being about pilot “Kitty Hawke, and her crew of gay girls (!)” – another feminist role model. As time went by, however, this excellent formula faltered. Dan Dare was invaded by pubescent boys – never girls! And this tendency was reflected in the PC 49 strip. Originally adapted from the radio series, and featuring P.C. Willoughby and his girl friend Joan Carr, Forty Nine eventually ditched his girl friend and replaced her with a boys’ club, where he seemed to spend most of his spare time. My friends and I had an uneasy feeling that there was something not quite right here! When creative genius Frank Hampson handed his Dan Dare strip over to other artists and script writers, I lost interest in Eagle, and told my parents they could cancel it.

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