“Eagle Comic” (1)

The first edition of ‘Eagle’ comic came out on April 14th 1950. It was the brainchild of Marcus Morris, a Lancashire vicar from Southport and it was illustrated by Frank Hampson who had previously worked on the vicar’s parish magazine. The Reverend Morris wanted a comic which told stories based on Christian ethics. Here’s the front cover, with the top half of the first ever Dan Dare story:

Dan Dare was the hero of this famous science fiction epic. It was perhaps a little like a cross between Flash Gordon and Star Trek. There was a villain as the equivalent of Ming the Merciless, and Dan belonged to the Interplanet Space Fleet who were a little like Captain Kirk’s United Federation of Planets. Here’s the second half of that historic first page:

I found it very difficult to create a clear illustration of the first edition where it is possible to read the text. The important thing, though, is the fact that a rocket is taking off, bound for outer space. In a 1930’s comic, it would have been a biplane, bound for Edinburgh.

The story continued in full colour on the back page. Here’s the bottom half of that very first second page, complete with jet propelled gyroscopic jeep:

What is important, though, is that the printing, both of the words and of the illustrations, would be unrecognisable by 1958. Mind you, the cost of the comic had gone up from the original threepence to four and a halfpence. Just look at the quality now:

Next time, we’ll look at some of the other characters to appear in that first edition of Eagle comic:

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27 Comments

Filed under Aviation, Film & TV, History, Literature, Personal, Science, Writing

27 responses to ““Eagle Comic” (1)

  1. Ah!!! I had every one from day one. I can see it, feel it, smell it, now, John. When I had ideas about being a book illustrator, Frank Hampson was one of my idols – largely for his back page work. Thanks for the memories

  2. Ovaltineys! I drank Ovaltine as a child. I didn’t know though that I might be an Ovaltiney.

    • It was an organisation for kids with a song, a badge and special radio programmes on Radio Luxembourg, the only commercial radio station available in 1930s England. This is what Wikipedia has to say:
      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ovaltineys
      My Dad was in the Ovaltineys and legeand has it that while German soldiers marched and fought to the Horst Wessel song, the British battle song of choice was
      “We are the Ovaltineys
      Little girls and boys,
      Make your request we’ll not refuse you
      We are here just to amuse you……

  3. When I was old enough we lived too far away from shops to buy comic books so they weren’t a big part of my life. But I still, even now, have a hot cup of Ovaltine every night before I put out the light.

    • I think we forget here in England, where everything is within easy reach, that that is not always the case for everybody in every country. I suppose that’s how the situation arises which you occasionally see in films where the isolated hero comes down to town from his hill farm and finds that the Post Office have 65 letters waiting for him. (Most of them bills so he goes off to become a pirate, but that, as they say, is a different story.)

  4. I kinda like the 1950 comic.

    • Absolutely. It’s the artwork with its wonderful use of colour and its particular style. I remember a series that I really liked in the mid-1960s. It was in “Look and Learn” magazine and was called “The Rise and Fall of the Trigan Empire” drawn by Don Lawrence. Great stuff, and it’s surprising that the Trigan Empire has never been fimed.

  5. Their imaginations back then were incredible. Nowadays our imaginations go as far as our smart phones or TV.

    • I fully agree with you. Our television over here is more or less 100% retellings of events from the past whether it’s “I’ve found out who Jack the Ripper was” , to a new series about 9/11 which is on our TV sets at the moment.
      Very little of our lives exercises our imaginations. Perhaps that’s why so few people read nowadays. Perhaps they worry that they do not know exactly what Oliver Twist looked like, and feel the need to look at his Facebook page before they can go on.

  6. That image of the plane of the future — not far off, that stealth bomber. I love looking back to what artists imagine the future to be like. I often think their predictions come true because they inspired the inventor to make it. Nice post.

    • Thank you very much. On a similar theme I often wonder which film portrays the future with the most imagination. My own particular favourite is Fritz Lang’s “Metropolis” especially his ten hours in a day clock. “Blade Runner” is a good try too, especially here in Nottingham where two hospitals and a healthy crime rate produce that same almost constant presence of helicopters in the sky.

  7. Always one of my favourites along with Victor and Hotspur! Loved the cut aways.

  8. I remember watching Flash Gordon as a child. The ‘special effects’ were ‘interesting’ and primitive compared the modern examples. You could always see the string but it never detracted from the storyline.

    • It took me a long, long time to teach my daughter that in a fairly poor film from the special effects points of view, it is always the story that counts, and what the film is trying to say. I’ve just finished watching “Behemoth the Sea Monster” and it’s a perfect example. A poor monster but a very strong message about nuclear pollution and provoking Mother Nature into retaliation against Mankind.
      I enjoyed the Flash Gordon from the 1980s with the song by Queen. Even Brain Blessed couldn’t spoil it and that’s saying something.

  9. Chris Waller

    My aunt Winnie in Derby used to buy it for me. I particularly remember the cutaway drawings it featured showing the internal workings of things – everything from a two-stroke engine to a hydro-electric power station. The Eagle probably inspired a generation of engineers.

  10. Very interesting reading my friend, and to know its origins came from the mind of a Vicar with a vivid and premonition imagination, enjoyed reading the pieces you posted, also the video clip of The Ovaltineys, got waylaid after seeing the clip and responding, due to getting carried away browsing other clips that appeared in the sidebar.
    Cheers.

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