Swift Comic’s Junior Dan Dare

SAM14 Logo Space
The original Dan Dare series, now called Voyage To Venus, began in the first issue of Eagle comic 65 years ago this month. The strip ran weekly in Eagle until 1967 after which it went to reprint. The character has been revived many times over the years, in 2000AD (due to be reprinted by Rebellion later this year), new Eagle, Revolver and also in his own title from Virgin Comics. However one part of the Dan Dare universe that has been forgotten about over the years is the other 1950s tale that was also set at Space Fleet Headquarters, the “Sammy In Space” strip from Eagle’s sibling title Swift.

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With the success of Eagle in 1950, publishers Hultons feminised the comic’s format and launched Girl in 1951 before adding the nursery title Robin in 1953. Seeing the potential for an androgynous title that would span the gap between Robin and their older titles, in 1954 they added Swift, an “Exciting new magazine for boys and girls”, for children aged 7, 8 and 9. The last of the Eagle flock to be born, it was also the first to be culled when, despite having been realigned as an older Eagle-style boy’s comic with ‘Companion To Eagle’ in its title box, Swift was amalgamated into Eagle itself with the 9 March 1963 issue.

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“Sammy In Space” began as a half page filler in the first issue of Swift entitled “Sammy and His Speedsub” but in 1957 this was drastically revamped into the “Sammy In Space” format with ongoing tales of Sammy and his cousin Jill who were both cadets at Space Cadet School, the establishment that was known as Astral Academy in the main “Dan Dare” strip. While Dan never appeared in “Sammy In Space”, the cadets’ mentor was the very similar Captain Ace Silver, this was a strip based at the main strip’s Space Fleet Headquarters and that also used Space Fleet helijets and spacesuits.

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“Sammy In Space” was to “Dan Dare” what The Sarah Jane Adventures was to Doctor Who yet, because it was in the junior comic, it was little known to “Dan Dare” readers of the time, unless they had younger siblings, and all but forgotten since.

In 2010 downthetubes’ Jeremy Briggs sought to correct this when he interviewed Bruce Cornwell, one of the strip’s original artists, and then wrote a feature article on “Sammy In Space” for Eagle Times, the journal of the Eagle Society. In later issues of ET Jeremy completed a stripography for “Sammy In Space” and even managed to locate foreign editions in colour of the originally black and white strip.

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To allow these features to reach a wider audience than just the Eagle Society, Steve Holland has agreed to host these “Sammy In Space” articles from Eagle Times on his Bear Alley blog where they can be found via these links:

Sammy: Swift’s Space Fleet Cadet

Sammy: Swift’s Space Fleet Cadet Stripography

Sammy Goes Dutch

The founder of downthetubes, John works as a comics editor, writer, as Creative Consultant on the Dan Dare audio adventures for B7 Media, and on promotional work for the Lakes International Comic Art Festival. Working in British comics publishing for over 30 years, his credits include editor of titles such as Doctor Who Magazine, Star Trek Magazine and Babylon 5 Magazine. 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 “Crucible”, a creator-owned project with 2000AD artist Smuzz, published on Tapastic; and “Death Duty” and “Skow Dogs” with Dave Hailwood for digital comic 100% Biodegradable.



Categories: British Comics

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