Welcome to the web home of THE EAGLE SOCIETY.

THE EAGLE SOCIETY is dedicated to the memory of EAGLE - Britain's National Picture Strip Weekly - the leading Boy's magazine of the 1950s and 1960s. We publish a quarterly journal - the Eagle Times.

This weblog has been created to provide an additional, more immediate, forum for news and commentary about the society and EAGLE-related issues. Want to know more? See First Post and Eagle - How it began.

Wednesday, 26 October 2016

Martin Aitchison (1919-2016)

The well-known and respected Eagle and Ladybird Books artist, Martin Aitchison, died peacefully on 22 October 2016 at the age of 96. He had a full life, remaining fit and well until 6 months before his death. He will be best, and most fondly, remembered by Eagle readers as the artist who drew the strip 'Luck of the Legion' from 1952 until 1961.

Born in Birmingham in 1919, after an early education at Ellesmere College in Shropshire, he attended Birmingham School of Art and the Slade School of Art. During World War II he enrolled with Vickers Aircraft at Weybridge, Surrey, as a technical illustrator and afterwards he became a free-lance commercial artist. 

His first published work was for Hulton Press' Lilliput. This was followed by work for Girl, when he was called upon to fill in for artist Ray Bailey on two pages of 'Kitty Hawk', and to draw 'Flick - and the Vanishing New Girl' for Girl Annual No 1

He became one of Eagle's major non-'Dan Dare' artists. For nine years he produced weekly strip artwork for 'Luck of the Legion', which was scripted by Geoffrey Bond. 'Luck of the Legion' was one of the few strips in Eagle that had the same artist throughout its run. He also drew for Swift and Swift Annual. When 'Luck' was dropped from Eagle, Martin drew a further three strips for Eagle, plus one for Eagle Annual, before leaving in 1963 to work for Ladybird Books. He became one of their principal artists and produced artwork for around 70 titles, until 1990. 

For members of the Eagle Society, their first acquaintance with the man, rather than his work, was when in 1996, Martin attended an Eagle Society Annual Dinner at Sparsholt, as Guest of Honour.

From 1998, although "retired", he teamed again with writer Geoffrey Bond and drew 'Justin Tyme - Ye Hapless Highwayman', a humorous strip, which ran for over 5 years in Eagle Times.

There is a list of Martin's Eagle work and references on our earlier blogpost: Eagle Artists - Martin Aitchison (from which some of this post has drawn).

Monday, 24 October 2016

Dan Dare: The Audio Adventures

A new series of Dan Dare audio adventures, based on the characters and stories from Frank Hampson’s original comic strip in Eagle has been produced by B7 Media and will be published by Big Finish, available from late December, 2016. 

The new series will the fifth incarnation of Dan Dare in audio form. 
  • The New Adventures of Dan Dare first appeared on Radio Luxembourg from 1951 until 1956, with Noel Johnson (of Dick Barton fame) as Dan Dare. 
  • In 1990 (Eagle's 40th Anniversary year) the BBC's Dan Dare Pilot of the Future adapted the first Venus story from Eagle with Mick Ford in the title role. 
  • In 2008 Orion Audio Books published a dramatised reading of the strip (with Tom Goodman-Hill reading Dan Dare's dialogue). The full title was Dan Dare Pilot of the Future: The Voyage to Venus - Part 1. Unfortunately there has been no part 2. 
  • The fourth incarnation was Michael Shipway's 2011 musical adaptation of the first adventure, Voyage to Venus, which included dialogue sampled from the BBC's 1990 dramatisation.

Tom Stoppard
The new series stars actor Ed Stoppard as the intrepid "pilot of the future", Colonel Dan Dare.

Ed Stoppard has had many film, television and theatre roles, in movies such as The Pianist, Brideshead Revisited, and Youth. Recent television roles have included Brian Epstein in Cilla, and Dr Will Campbell in Home Fires.

Dan Dare’s loyal companion, Digby, is played by Geoff McGivern, probably best known to science fiction fans as the original Ford Prefect in The Hitch Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy on radio and in recent live UK tours. Some of his recent TV roles have been in Toast of London, Esio Trot and Episodes.

Heida Reed
Professor Peabody is played by Heida Reed, best known in the role of Elizabeth in the currently running BBC drama series Poldark.

Sondar is played by Bijan Daneshmand, whose acting credits include 20 Fingers, A Snake’s Tail, Body of Lies, Munich, Page Eight and the BBC dramatisation of John le CarrĂ©’s The Night Manager.

The Mekon is played by Raad Rawi, known for his roles in Spy, The Devil's Double and Traitor, as well as appearances in some of the most popular British television drama series, such as Coronation Street, The Bill, Silent Witness, Holby City, etc. and the mini-series The Honourable Woman.
Voyage to Venus

Sir Hubert will be played by Michael Cochcrane, who has had numerous acting roles on television and radio, including (on TV) Wings, Criminal Justice, Law and Order and Sharpe

His film career has included Escape to Victory, The Return of the Soldier, Number One Gun, The Saint, Incognito, A Different Loyalty and The Iron Lady.
The Red Moon Mystery

Guest stars include: Jake Maskall (East Enders, The Royals), Hugh Fraser (Agatha Christie's Poirot, Sharpe), Nicholas Briggs (Doctor Who, Torchwood), Noof McEwan (Vera, Leave to Remain), Jonathan Rhodes (M.I. High, Beacon 77, Deadpan Valentine), Kelly Burke (The Blind Man), Dean Harris (The Fourth Arm, Howard’s Way, Bad Boyes)

Writers on the series are Richard Kurti and Bev Doyle, James Swallow, Simon Guerrier, Marc Platt, Patrick Chapman and Colin Brake.

Marooned on Mercury

The first volume of adventures will be published at the end of December 2016, and will be available as a 4-CD set or a download from the Big Finish website. The volume will contain Voyage to Venus, The Red Moon Mystery and Marooned on Mercury and, on the fourth disc, a documentary on bringing Dan Dare back to audio life in 2016. 

A second 4-CD volume containing Reign of the Robots, Operation Saturn and Prisoners of Space plus another documentary “bonus” disc, will be published in February 2017.

The Dan Dare Audio Adventures can be pre-ordered from the Big Finish website, where you can find further details: www.bigfinish.com  The pre-order price for each volume is £20 for download or £25 for a CD box-set.

To listen to the trailer click HERE

To read synopses of the first three adventures and pre-order Volume 1click HERE
To read synopses of the second three adventures and pre-order Volume 2 click HERE

With thanks to John Freeman and B7 Media, who provided most of the information and the pictures

Saturday, 1 October 2016

Eagle Times Vol 29 No 3

Autumn 2016 Contents

  • 'Artist of the Future' - an exploration of some of Frank Hampson's inspirations and visionary ideas that he brought to the 'Dan Dare' strip
  • 'Jeff Arnold's Hat' - a comparison of the hats worn in the 'Riders of the Range' strip in Eagle with those of the real "Wild West"
  • 'Deep Sea Doctor' - an examination of the "real life" adventure of Wilfred Grenfell as told in strip form on the back page of Eagle in 1952, written by R.B. Saxe and drawn by Norman Williams
  • 'In and Out of the Eagle' - more episodes in the series presenting collections of Eagle-related snippets  
  • 'PC49 and the Case of the Stolen Half Crowns' - a new PC49 story, based on the characters originally created for radio by Alan Stranks
  • 'Martin Asbury (part 2) Storyboardman' - a look at the prolific work of former 'Garth' artist, Martin Asbury as a storyboard artist on over fifty mainstream movies
  • '1954. The Eagle is Changing' - on the many changes to Eagle around its fifth year of publication
  • 'More Eagle Miscellany' -  a collection of notes on Eagle history, largely gathered from conversations with former Eagle contributors, guests at Eagle Society Dinners
  •  'Shadow Artists' - on the various artists who took over from or stood in for the principal artists of many of the strips in Eagle 
  •  'Marcus Morris: The TV and Radio Star' - on the various radio and television appearances of Eagle's Editor, during Eagle's times and later
  • 'The Earth Stealers' - recollections of the 'Dan Dare' strip that ran in Eagle from December 1961 to March 1962
  • 'Island of Fire' - a look at Richard Jennings' colour strip, which appeared in Eagle in 1962 (and would later be reprinted in TV21 Annual, in edited form, as 'Volcano Island')
  • 'Playing the Game' - how Eagle covered sport in the early days
  • 'Roger Perry, 1938-2016' - an obituary of the former Hulton Press photographer and Eagle contributor (he was the model for Eagle's 'Roving Reporter'), and who, following his professional retirement, contributed many articles to Eagle Times about Eagle, Hulton Press and the people who worked there
This issue's cover picture is from from Eagle No 5 (12 May 1950). It may have been based on a photograph of a prone USAF pilot that appeared in National Geographic magazine the previous year 

Friday, 1 July 2016

Eagle Times Vol 29 No 2

Summer 2016 Contents

  • 'The Adventures of Tintin: King Ottokar's Sceptre' - a comparison of three editions of Herge's picture strip story: the 1947 book by Casterman of Paris, its first publication in English in Eagle in 1950, and the later edition, by Methuen (in a different translation) in 1958
  • 'Man of Courage' - part 2, concluding an examination of Eagle's strip about the life of St. Vincent de Paul, and its "mystery" writer, Francis Dickson, alias "R.B. Saxe"
  • 'Dan Dare Storyboard 1950' - on a recently acquired original board for one of the Dan Dare film strips based on the first Venus story and produced in the 1950s by Martin Lucas Ltd as part of their Mini Cine range
  • 'PC49 and the Case of the Purple Holdall' - the latest Eagle Times adaptation of a PC49 radio story, originally written by Alan Stranks
  • 'The Devil's Henchmen' - an examination of the seven-episode black-and white western strip that appeared in Eagle in 1962, drawn by the former 'Riders of the Range' artist, Frank Humphris
  • 'As Drawn by Ashwell Wood: Some Dan Dare Era Spaceships' - on the space-related artwork of Leslie Ashwell Wood, Eagle's most prolific cutaway artist, featuring work from Eagle (1954), the Dan Dare Spacebook (1952) and his Inside Information series (1970)
  • 'Eagle's Special Investigator Macdonald "Mac" Hastings' - on the life of Eagle's well-known journalist, whose written works outside Eagle included a series of mystery novels featuring an investigator called Montague Cork
  • 'From Ruislip to Troy' - a look at the long and varied career of the former 'Garth' artist, Martin Asbury
  • 'The Eagle Society Annual Gathering 2016' - a report on the Society's visit to Donnington Manor Hotel in Sevenoaks, Kent, where the theme was 'Great Lives of Eagle', and visits were made to Chartwell (Winston Churchill's former home) and Quebec House, Westerham (former home of General James Wolfe)
  • 'In and Out of the Eagle': some more episodes in the series presenting collections of Eagle-related snippets
  • 'They Helped to Bring You Eagle: No. 2 Bruce Smith' - the layout artist and creative letter-heading artist, who worked on Eagle in the 1960s
  • 'Rivals of Jeff Arnold: Tex Ritter' - the cowboy singer and film star, who featured in comic books published by Fawcett and Charlton Comics

Wednesday, 23 March 2016

Eagle Times Vol 29 No 1

Spring 2016 Contents

  • 'Dan's Dates' - not about Dan Dare's romantic dalliances(!) but rather about the chronology of the stories as told by Frank Hampson in the 1950's Eagle
  • 'Man of Courage' - an examination of Eagle's strip about the life of St. Vincent de Paul, and its "mystery" writer, Francis Dickson, alias "R.B. Saxe"
  • 'The Platinum Planet' - remembrance of the Dan Dare story, written by Eric Eden and drawn by Don Harley and Bruce Cornwell, which appeared in Eagle in 1961
  • 'Vengeance Trail' - an examination of the western strip that replaced 'Riders of the Range' in Eagle in 1962 and was based on Flaming Irons, a novel by Max Brand
  • 'In and Out of the Eagle': some more episodes in the series presenting collections of Eagle-related snippets
  • 'PC49 and the Case of the Gypsy's Warning': part 3, concluding the latest Eagle Times adaptation of a PC49 radio story, originally written by Alan Stranks
  • 'Eagle and Chocolate' - a history of chocolate, its manufacture in Britain and the firms that advertised their products in Eagle
  • 'The Gay Corinthian': concluding a comparison of the Eagle's (1961-62) reprint/adaptation of the 1924 novel by Ben Bolt with its earlier (June 1953) comic-strip adaptation in Thriller Comics
  • 'Dan Dare Rocket and Space Ship Builder Sets - The Meccano Connection': continuing an article on the construction sets produced in the 1950s, this time taking a look at those produced by MOKO
  • 'Eagle Miscellany or pieces picked up' - a collection of short notes of Eagle history, gathered from various sources, including the recollections of the late Derek Lord, a former editor of Eagle
  • 'Nelson' - taking a look at aspects of the life of Lord Nelson not mentioned in Eagle's picture-strip version of his life, 'The Great Sailor'
  • 'Dan Dare: The 2000 AD Years, Volume 1' - a review of the recently published collection of Dan Dare reprints from the 1970's 2000AD comic
  • 'Radio Echoes' - on the on-line availability of pre-Eagle episodes from the BBC radio series The Adventures of PC49
  • 'Silver Eagler of the Year 1954' - Wyndham Rees writes about the "big fuss" made of him by Marcus Morris and Eagle, after being awarded Silver Eagler of the Year
  • 'A Vague Resemblance' - a reader speculates the influence of the 1955 film This Island Earth, and Dan Dare's 1956 adventure 'Rogue Planet'
  • 'Waldof and Cecil' - a look at the popular pair of cartoon characters that appeared in strips in Eagle Annual  but never actually appeared in the weekly magazine

This issue's cover features opening frames from Frank Hampson's first Dan Dare story (written in 1950), depicting events in the (then) future 1996

Sunday, 13 December 2015

Eagle Times Vol 28 No 4

Winter 2015 Contents
  • 'John Worsley.. Man of many talents': a brief review of the career of Eagle's best-known 'PC49' artist, and concluding the article begun in the previous issue of Eagle Times on paintings by John Worsley shown in 2015 at the War Artists at Sea Exhibition in Greenwich
  • 'PC49 and the Case of the Gypsy's Warning': part 2 of the latest Eagle Times adaptation of a PC49 radio story, originally written by Alan Stranks 
  • 'The Eagle Society Annual Dinner 2015': a review of the Eagle Society Gathering and Annual Dinner, which was held at Bletchley, Buckinghamshire in September 2015, and included a visit to Bletchley Park, the wartime site of the UK's Government Code and Cypher School (GC&CS)
  • 'Cruising Speed': featuring a game devised and drawn for Supercar Annual by Eagle writer and artist Eric Eden 
  • 'Dan Dare Rocket and Space Ship Builder Sets - The Meccano Connection': on the construction sets produced in the 1950s by A & M Bartram of Birmingham
  • 'PC49 and the Case of the Stolen Christmas Presents': a seasonal short story from Alan Stranks, in which PC Archibald Berkeley-Willoughby plays detective
  • 'Mark, The Youngest Disciple': the third, and final, final part of an examination of the background to Chad Varah's version of the events surrounding the Passion of Jesus, which appeared in Eagle between November 1954 and June 1955, drawn by Giorgio Bellavitis
  • 'Christmas Annuals of the 1960s': following last year's 'From Under the 1950s Christmas Tree: Christmas Annuals', this article takes a look at the range of children's annuals and similar publications produced through the 1960s
  • 'The Gay Corinthian': a comparison of the Eagle's (1961-62) reprint/adaptation of the 1924 novel by Ben Bolt with its earlier (June 1953) comic-strip adaptation in Thriller Comics 
  • 'In and Out of the Eagle': some more episodes in the series presenting collections of Eagle-related snippets
  • 'Thanks to... Arthur Roberts (and other art editors)': David Slinn recollects his career in illustration and lettering, including his contributions to Eagle and its companion papers, and his involvement in Eaglecon80, when he interviewed Chad Varah 
  • Marvel Comes to Eagle: on the reprint of Marvel Comics' 'Tales of Asgard', which appeared in Eagle in 1968
  • 'Where did you get those crazy ideas about space? From Hollywood probably, or sci-fi books and maybe just a few from Dan Dare': on some of fiction's less-plausible ideas about space travel and exploration 
  • 'Who said Lego could put men in space?': on the inclusion of a number of Lego astronauts on a recent visit by Danish astronaut Andreas E Morgensen to the International Space Station
This issue's cover depicts Christmas scenes by the artist John Worsley

Thursday, 24 September 2015

Eagle Times Vol 28 No 3

Autumn 2015 Contents
  • 'The Story of Lightning': David Slinn, himself a contributor to Eagle and Swift in 1960, tells the background story of a new children's magazine that (never saw the light of day, but) was proposed for publication by the National Magazine Company Limited in 1973
  • 'PC49 and the Case of The Case of the Gypsy's Warning': one more in the series of adaptations from the PC49 BBC radio stories originally written by Alan Stranks  
  • 'Mark the Youngest Disciple': Part 2 of an examination of the background to Chad Varah's version of the events surrounding the Passion of Jesus, which appeared in Eagle between November 1954 and June 1955, drawn by Giorgio Bellavitis
  • 'Dan Dare's Back in Southport': a report on the new Atkinson Gallery in Southport, the birthplace of Eagle, which features a collection of 'Dan Dare' memorabilia on permanent display
  • 'How the Future Took a Turn for the Worse': regretting the change in predicted futures from Frank Hampson's vision in 'Dan Dare' to the dystopian visions predicted in the comics of today 
  • 'The Mystery of the Bovril Brigade Advertisement': on the two advertising strips which appeared in Eagle in 1962/63, drawn by Frank Hampson
  • 'In and Out of the Eagle' - some more of the series presenting collections of Eagle-related snippets
  • 'Eric Dadswell': on the artist, who drew for a number of Hulton's titles, including Girl, Swift and Eagle in the 1950s 
  • 'Biggles Flies With Eagle': recollection of the Biggles serials and short stories, written by Capt. W.E. Johns and which appeared in Eagle and its annuals
  • 'Pop Chalmers was created to say Thank You': How the National Coal Board commissioned 'Dan Dare' creator Frank Hampson to draw the advertising newspaper strip series 'The Chalmers' in 1962
  • 'The Eagle Riders of the Range Annual No 1': a review of the first of the scarlet-covered Hulton annuals, which followed five previous Juvenile Productions editions  
  • 'John Worsley - War Artist': a short article inspired by the inclusion of three paintings by John Worsley in the War Artists at Sea exhibition, which was held at Queen's House, Greenwich between February and August 2015. Worsley is better known to Eagle readers as the artist of 'PC49'
  • 'More on the Spaceship Builder Mystery': with thanks to Tony Knowles of the Midland Meccano Guild, some further information on the Dan Dare Spaceship and other manufacturers' spaceship kits 
  • 'Rex Milligan on Television': the details of Eagle's "first television star". Rex Milligan was created for Eagle by Jennings author Anthony Buckeridge, and was adapted for BBC television by Buckeridge himself in 1956. It beat John Ryan's 'Captain Pugwash' to television by a year, and 'Dan Dare' by forty six. 
  • 'Frontiers of Science': the roots of the informative strip from the last years of the Eagle (1967 - 1969)
  • 'When Dan and Digby sneaked into 2000AD': on the depiction of Dan Dare, with a striking resemblance to the Eagle original (rather than his 2000AD "reincarnation"), alongside a Digby lookalike (called "Wilmo") in the second 2000AD Annual