DAN DARE – Pilot of the Future (Disembark here for EAGLE comics 1982-1985)

Eagle Cover 10 July 1982.

This post will take a look at a short period in the history of British comic book Eagle and one of its most famous characters Dan Dare. Eagle was founded by the Reverend Marcus Morris and was first published in 1950 to 1969. The character Dan Dare was created by Frank Hampson and made regular appearances until 1969 when Eagle, struggling by then, was merged with Lion comics, thus bringing an end to the sky heroics of ‘Pilot of the Future’ Dan Dare.

But fast forward to 1982… and a secret project team at IPC Magazines led by Barrie Tomlinson, David Hunt and Gil Page was putting together the final touches of its plans for the relaunch of Eagle and its greatest hero Dan Dare! The new format had already been decided: a shift from traditional art stories to photo-stories – a format that had proved itself a hit with pop magazines like JACKIE.

Daring to dabble

Dan Dare was to escape the new photo-story format and remain rendered as he had always been – in quality lines and ink drawn by quality artists. Not that Dan escaped change entirely! The original 1950s Dan as created by Frank Hampson was completely removed from the relaunched storyline and replaced with Dan’s Great-Great Grandson who took on the name ‘Dan Dare’ and his mantle ‘Pilot of the Future’, with adventures now being set 200 years into the future of the original storyline.

Below: Operation Eagle. From the 1983 Eagle Annual

Just some of the steps taken in relaunching a comic and one of its legends.


Not plain sailing

What began as an exciting relaunch for Eagle in 1982 quickly gave way to choppy waters. Dan Dare lost its lead artist Gerry Embleton just four months into the relaunch. The following year in 1983 the title made the transition from the photo-stories back to traditional comic art. This was followed by the change to a new size format and cheaper newsprint – and all against the background of the 1980s British printer’s strikes when Eagle saw the mergers of fellow IPC comics Scream! which integrated into Eagle in 1984, and then Tiger which merged with Eagle in 1985. 

The creative team for the Dan Dare strips during this topsy-turvy ’82 – ’85 period included the writers Pat Mills and John Wagner, with intial artwork coming from Gerry Embelton and Oliver Frey (Frey also did the work on the ’84 and ’85 Annuals). Then came the prolific art of Ian Kennedy (announced as the new artist in the July 31 issue, 1982), and finally the art of Carlos Cruz from the period 1984/5. Writer and artist credits are seldom printed in many of the later issues I own, so if I’ve missed or miscredited anyone let me know in the comments.

Final flight

Although I’m only covering the period ’82 – ’85, it’s worth concluding the history of that relaunch to say that Eagle, and all of its fellow IPC comic titles, was eventually purchased by the publisher Robert Maxwell in 1987. Five-hundred issues of this later Eagle were published until dwindling sales forced a change from weekly release to monthly. Later issues contained reprints – although new Dan Dare stories did appear written by Tom Tully and drawn by David Pugh. Eagle flew on for a while longer up to 1994 when it, and its famous pilot Dan Dare, once again disappeared from the sky.

Onto the images then. 1982 – 1985. And what a treat! TVTA is pleased to present a stellar selection of artwork and covers related to this exciting relaunch period for Eagle and Dan Dare!

Enjoy.

Dan Dare and the Return of the Mekon by Wagner / Mills /Embleton. Eagle 10 July 1982.

Dan Dare and the Return of the Mekon by Wagner / Mills/ Frey. Eagle 17 July 1982.

Dan Dare and the Return of the Mekon by Mills / Wagner / Kennedy. Eagle 31 July 1982.

Page mixing traditional comic art with model photography. Mills / Kennedy / models by J. Baum. Eagle 28 May 1983.


Cover artwork 1982 – 1985


Title mergers

Eagle and Scream!, 1984

Eagle and Scream! 9 Feb 151 1985.

The stories ‘Monster’ and ‘The Thirteenth Floor’ from SCREAM! merger announcements with Eagle. 25 Aug 1984.

Eagle and Tiger, 1985

Eagle and Tiger. 14 Sept 1985 182.


Eagle Annual 1983


Dan Dare print advert. Eagle. 1983.


TVTA Fun Bonus!

While going through the dozens of Eagle issues I own from this period, I managed to put togther the four-part double-page series ‘Doomlord’s Alien Datafile Poster’

Pheww!! What a monster when all put togther…

Doomlord’s Alien Datafile. Four-part double-page poster collection in Eagle comic, 1985.

And lastly…

A Mekon and Treen target simulator to use with the free potato gun as given away in the September 24 issue of EAGLE, 1983, ‘Mash Up The Mekon’

Space Fleet Target Simulator. Eagle 24 Sept 1983.


That’s all folks. Thank you for flying into the future with us 🙂


Resources: 1983 Eagle Annual, Fleetway. Various Eagle comics, IPC, 1982 – 1985. Wikipedia entries for Eagle and Dan Dare. Images copyright belong to the current owners of Eagle and Dan Dare and are used here for information purposes. Image scans made by TVTA from personal comic collection.

Further reading: excellent Dan Dare article from Down The Tubes

British Comics 1970s and 1980s – as promoted in print advertising

2000 AD advert. 1988.

A TVTA Special

TVTA is pleased to present a selection of 1970s and 1980s British comic book titles as seen in print adverts found in… 1970s and 1980s British comic book titles 🙂

My memories of British comics.

Many of the titles featured in this post I grew with up. I have fond memories of saving up my pocket money for the weekly visit to the newsagent, and then the Sunday visit to our Grandparents’ house where there would always be a bag of sweets and a pile of comics waiting for us kids as treats. My parents split up when I was young, so when Dad visited this was yet another occasion to receive a pile of comics. As a supplement to the weekly and monthly comic books, Mom always bought us a number of hard cover annuals each Christmas.

Free Gift in this Week’s Issue !!

The kids in the grove where we lived were just as comic-mad, and we had regular get-togethers to share our comics and marvel at the free gifts we had received. Indeed, many of the adverts in today’s post are promotional adverts for free gifts included with the title. Gifts ranged from stickers to toys, badges to posters, and special offers made in conjunction with many popular sweets, crisps and chocolate brands of the day.

One good memory I have regarding comics is the day I accompanied my mom to the weekly launderette run. Completely bored, I was mooching about the premises when I found a Fifty Pence pence piece sticking out from under one of the machines. To a kid in the late 1970s 50p was not to be sniffed at. My mom was a good sport and allowed me to keep it, so I popped next door to the newsagents and came back with comics. Another good memory is of a friend having a clear-out of his stuff, and he gave me about a hundred issues of his old Beano and Dandy comics which kept me in happy reading spirits for months. Another good memory is of rainy days at school when at breaktime we stayed indoors and played toys and games or… read comics. Looking back there was many a good time spent with comics, and it’s been fun browsing some of those old titles again in search of adverts.

So, onto the ads, and there’s a little bit of everything here from Star Wars to Buster to Victor to Dan Dare, Spider-Man and Hulk, Tiger, Roy of the Rovers, 2000 AD and Doctor Who!

Enjoy.

Star Wars Weekly. 1978.

Victor Summer Specials. Victor. 1975.

Wow! Eagle 17 Jul.y 1982.

Buster. Eagle 19 Feb 1983.

Rowntree’s Fruit Gums promotion with Girl. Eagle 31 July. 1982.

Red Dagger. 1980.

2000 AD as advertised by Lemmy. 2000 AD. 1987.

A Close Encounter for Dan Dare. Eagle. 1983.

Doctor Who Weekly. 1980.

Playmobil figures promotion with Buster and Whizzer and Chips. 2000 AD. 1983.

MASK vs VENOM. 2000 AD. 1987.

Battle and Whoopee! Eagle 1983.

Roy of the Rovers. Eagle 12 Feb. 1983.

Bubblicious promotion with Tiger. Eagle 9 Apri.l 1983.

Spider-Man and Hulk.1980.

The Empire Strikes Back Weekly. 1980.

Battle Action Force. Eagle N°156. 1985.

Frantic. 1980.

2000 AD. UK. 1980.

Thank you for finding Fifty Pence pieces with us 🙂


 

2000 AD Sci-Fi Special: posters, features and adverts

2000 AD Sci-Fi Special 1996.

Aside from its regular weekly issues (known as PROGS), British comic publication 2000 AD also published summer special issues known as 2000 AD Sci-Fi Special. The comic was released each summer from 1978 up to 1996, and recently underwent a reboot by the current publishers. Typical issues contained new and reprinted stories, posters, fan art, film and book reviews, puzzles and fact files. I really like the Sci-Fi Specials and tend to regard them as ‘summer break’ versions of the UK hard back Annual which is traditionly published each Christmas, 2000 AD being no exception. I’m also a fan because the stories are complete and not serialised.

2000 AD Thrill-Power rating: a no nonsense ten out of ten!

Here are some selected scans.

Various artists from credits: Gibson, Fabry, Davis, Demarkus, Percival, Bisley, Smith, Kennedy, Rowley.

2000 AD Sci-Fi Special 1981.


2000 AD Sci-Fi Special 1981


2000 AD Sci-Fi Special.


2000 AD Sci-Fi Special 1986.


2000 AD Sci-Fi Special 1987.


2000 AD Sci-Fi Special 1986.


2000 AD Sci-Fi Special 1996.


2000 AD Sci-Fi Special 1996.


2000 AD Sci-Fi Special 1996.


2000 AD Sci-Fi Special 1985.


2000 AD Sci-Fi Special 1983.


2000 AD Sci-Fi Special 1984.


2000 AD Sci-Fi Special 1980.


2000 AD Sci-Fi Special 1994.


2000 AD Sci-Fi Special 1994.


2000 AD Sci-Fi Special 1994.


2000 AD Sci-Fi Special 1980. Thargus Maximus.

Happy 40th birthday 2000 AD

2000adlogo

 

Forty years ago today British comic 2000 AD published its first Prog and introduced us to a galaxy of characters that continue to thrill, amaze, astound, horrify and charm us to this day. Its characters, adverts, toys and covers have been popular here at TVTA over the past six years, so here is a selection of previously published images and a few new ones to celebrate the milestone. Happy 40th 2000 AD!

 


1977. Kevin O'Neill cover.

1977. Kevin O’Neill cover.


France. Judge Dredd 4. 1983. Brian Bolland back cover art for Judge Dredd.

France. Judge Dredd 4. 1983. Brian Bolland back cover art for Judge Dredd.


Bad Company Goodbye, Krool World Peter Milligan Brett Ewins Jim McCarthy Steve Dillon 2000 AD 2005 cover by Brendan McCarthy

Bad Company Goodbye, Krool World Peter Milligan Brett Ewins Jim McCarthy Steve Dillon 2000 AD 2005 cover by Brendan McCarthy


1985. Eric Philips cover.

1985. Eric Philips cover.


2000 AD Dice Man #1 cover art by Glenn Fabry.

2000 AD Dice Man #1 cover art by Glenn Fabry.


1986. Brett Ewins cover.

1986. Brett Ewins cover.


2000 AD and Tornado. 1980.

2000 AD and Tornado. 1980.


2000 AD Monthly. 1987.

2000 AD Monthly. 1987.


1986. Brian Bolland cover.

1986. Brian Bolland cover.


UK. 2000 AD's Dice Man #1. 1986.

UK. 2000 AD’s Dice Man #1. 1986.


1995 Mega Heroes figures. Mattel.

1995 Mega Heroes figures. Mattel.


1995 Mega Heroes figures. Mattel.

1995 Mega Heroes figures. Mattel.


1999 Re-Action figures.

1999 Re-Action figures.


1999 Re-Action figures.

1999 Re-Action figures.


1999 Re-Action figures.

1999 Re-Action figures.


1986. Ad for Strontium Dog. Carlos Ezquerra.

1986. Ad for Strontium Dog. Carlos Ezquerra.


Prog 320. 1983.

Prog 320. 1983.


Prog 578. 1988.

Prog 578. 1988.


2000 AD. 1977.

2000 AD. 1977.


2000 AD. Tharg pin up.

2000 AD. Tharg pin up.


 

Comic covers: 2000 AD Judge Dredd and Co.

British comic 2000 AD has always been a firm favourite since I was a kid. For me their titles have consistently provided a colourful and anarchic, black-humoured universe full of sharply-observed characters.

My favourite characters were often the ones found in Mega-City One… Judges Dredd, Anderson and Hershey, The Dark Judges, the Angel Gang and so on. I’ve pulled a few random covers from my collection to show here. Some of the covers are from Eagle Comics which reprinted 2000 AD stories in a US style format during the mid-eighties. Hope you enjoy.

Historical overview: 2000 AD history


As I was preparing this post during the week I learned the sad news that Brett Ewins had passed away on the 16th February. Brett was a major contributor to many 2000 AD titles. The first two pictures in this post are by Brett. RIP dude.

1986. Brett Ewins cover.

1986. Brett Ewins cover.


Judge Anderson 11 1986 Brett Ewins POST

1986. Brett Ewins cover.


1977. Kevin O'Neill cover.

1977. Kevin O’Neill cover.


1985. Eric Philips cover.

1985. Eric Philips cover.


1985. Brian Bolland cover.

1985. Brian Bolland cover.


1985. Dave Gibbons cover.

1985. Dave Gibbons cover.


1986. Brian Bolland cover.

1986. Brian Bolland cover.


1986. Brian Bolland cover.

1986. Brian Bolland cover.


1986. Ad for Strontium Dog. Carlos Ezquerra.

1986. Ad for Strontium Dog. Carlos Ezquerra.


France. Judge Dredd 4. 1983. Brian Bolland back cover art for Judge Dredd.

France. Judge Dredd 4. 1983. Brian Bolland back cover art for Judge Dredd.