Eagle Comic (2)

Last time we looked at the appearance of a brand new comic called “Eagle”, which was an almost revolutionary step forward in the world of boys’ comics in England. The eponymous hero of the comic was space pilot Dan Dare, always combatting something or other, in this case Psycho-Rocket-Repair-Man :

Dan wasn’t the only person in the comic though. There was “Rob Conway” who seems to have been some kind of aviation detective:

Note the three aircraft, a Hawker Seahawk, an Avro Lancaster and possibly a Gloster Meteor.

There was PC 49, where ‘PC’ does not necessarily stand for “politically correct” :

And “Seth and Shorty – Cowboys”, wrangling away deep in the heart of Texas :

Seth’s grandson is probably better known to you as Dr Sheldon Cooper:

“The Great Adventurer” was a comic strip that predicted Middle East politics seventy years ahead of its time:

And there was even Captain Pugwash:

There were cutaway drawings of the latest technological marvels of the day:

And more science from Professor Brittain, now that radar wasn’t top secret any more:

“Discovering the Countryside” featured the hedgehog and an adder:

We learnt about aviation from reading “Heroes of the Clouds”:

There were the Ovaltineys, another paramilitary group I have previously written about:

They had their own little section, with a quiz about British town names:

And nobody gets out of here without a little sing-song. A song you cannot get out of your head. Go on, you know you want to:

Next time, safety, science fiction, serials, sport and Steel. And no, that last one isn’t a typo.


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

26 responses to “Eagle Comic (2)

  1. Your posts brought to mind all those comics I used to read and enjoy. I sometimes sit in the library to read Astrix but I don’t get Phantom and Mandrake comics.

    • Yes, I must admit I don’t like the American Marvel comics and I don’t find them particularly interesting. I’ve tried the films too and I didn’t like them either, with the exception of “The Hulk” where I really enjoyed the music, which was rather unexpected. I suppose there must be Indian comics too. Somebody is bound to have tried to produce the “Mahabharata” as a graphic novel, with new issues every week.

  2. Great post. Couldn’t work out the Sheldon Cooper link? And, boy, those Ovaltineys accents

    • Well, Seth and Shorty are cowboys in “South West Texas” according to the blurb, and Dr Cooper comes from Texas, as is shown in the superb series “The Young Sheldon”, which is well worth watching if you don’t know it.
      A lecturer once told me that accents are all down to the vowels, whose pronunciation will vary from place to place. I always hear upper class accents as a gallant attempt to pronounce all the vowels as the “e” in the phrase “room to let” or “I have a pet”. Birmingham accents prefer the “oy” of “boy” or “toy”.

  3. Great memories. A few years ago I bought a ‘new’ Eagle annual. I still have it. Do you remember the Lion and the Tiger? I did a post about comics a few years ago…

    • Yes, I do. I remember nearly all of them, I expect, although some I never liked such as “Beezer” and “Buster”. “Beano” and “Dandy” were the only comics of that type that I liked. I used to love Battler Britton in LIon and Roy of the Rovers in Tiger. And never forget Roy’s love child and his magic footwear, “Billy’s Boots”.

  4. As kids, growing up in then British Guiana, we drank hot Ovaltine before bedtime. But I don’t recall hearing “We are the Ovaltineys” on our radio waves.

    • I just cannot imagine drinking Ovaltine, a drink for the cold winter nights in a place as hot as British Guiana!
      The song, I believe, was to all intents and purposes, an advertising jingle which featured in the Ovaltineys’ radio programme broadcast by Radio Luxembourg. In the 1930s, there was no advertising of any kind on British radio, so cunning Ovaltine went to nearby Luxembourg and persuaded the radio people there to sell them half an hour of their own sponsored programme. Radio Luxembourg was very powerful and everybody in Britain, even in Scotland could pick it up with ease, including the Ovaltineys’ club which became very popular.
      The children of Britain were all very keen to join the club and to wear their badges. I suppose that British Guiana was just too small a country and too far away for Radio Luxembourg to bother trying to reach them.

  5. Another great read. Thank you, John. Can’t wait for your next post. You’ve got me intrigued.

  6. Chris Waller

    That cutaway drawing of the gas-turbine/electric locomotive takes me back 55 years or thereabouts. The word ‘comic’ really doesn’t do justice to The Eagle. The cutaway drawings were genuinely educational.

  7. They certainly were. I can remember one about how a nuclear reactor worked, and another one about a jet airliner, I think it was.
    Nobody had ever done anything like that before and it was in an era when Britain led the world. If you ever want a book that may make you weep with anger, try “Empire of the Clouds”, about the days when “Britain ruled the Skies” to quote the BBC4 programme of that same book.
    “Eagle” always had that desire to educate, if you look at the pages above: Radar, the Hedgehog, the history of flight and so on.
    As a final point, I must admit that I am a little surprised that nobody has tried the town quiz. The answers are not that difficult: Manchester, Newcastle, Reading. Bath. Oldham. No 6 I can’t do, unless there’s a town called “Carpetwasp”

    • Jan

      It’s an English place name. Spelt Carpetwasp but pronounced Rugby.

    • Chris Waller

      Thanks for that pointer to ‘Empire of the Clouds’. I’ll look it up. I will reciprocate with a recommendation of ‘What We Have Lost’ by James Hamilton-Paterson. Subtitled ‘The Dismantling of Great Britain’ it is a lamentation on the way in which governments post-war – and none escape the author’s wrath – threw away our technological lead in so many fields and squandered, or sold off, our national assets.

      • Jan

        I found Hamilton-Paterson’s analysis rather lacking. The writing was on the wall for the British aviation industry even during the war. It had a cottage industry mentality that was adequate in the era of doped construction but was never going to be good enough in an all-metal, jet-propelled post war. For example, when Packard began making Merlins under licence they had to redraw the blueprints as RR’s manufacturing tolerances were so poor/primitive and required every engine to be fettled prior to deployment.

    • Chris Waller

      P.S. – No.6 defeated me as well !

      • My wife says that rugs are rarer nowadays as most people have completely fitted carpets. That seemed a reasonable explanation to me. I suppose that when bees are finally killed off by the insecticide companies, that Question Six will become totally impossible.

  8. It certainly had a wide variety of interesting articles. It’s the ‘Blue Peter’ of comics, fun but educational. I don’t know if there is anything similar today, somehow I doubt it, and it’s a crying shame if that’s the case.

    • “the ‘Blue Peter’ of comics”….an excellent description!
      I’m afraid that I don’t know anything about comics nowadays although I did see on TV years ago that Beano was going digital and was available only on the internet. My best guess would be that everything has been taken over by the American Marvel comics which have always left me fairly cold.

  9. Chris Waller

    Referring back to the comment made by one of the respondents to your blog about the Merlin engines built under licence by Packard re. engineering tolerances. I did a bit of research and discovered that it was a result of the differing approaches of Rolls-Royce and Packard. Rolls-Royce Merlins were built by time-served craftsmen who did not need to be told what tolerances to work to whereas Packard set up a production-line which was to be manned by unskilled people recruited off the street. Thus Packard needed far more detail about dimensions in order to design the jigs and tools to build their version of the Merlin. It was certainly not sue to any deficiency in Rolls-Royce’s standards. I would be interested to know how the performance of the Packard Merlins measured up against the R-R Merlins.

    • I did a little bit of research and it seems that there was no real difference between the two. These two forums are very good:



      Clearly, the two types of engine were interchangeable in the same aircraft and I also remember that in at least one factory in England, they would make different Mark numbers of Lancaster at the same time. In other words, if they had fifty British Merlins they would use those, and then make the next batch of Lancasters with American Packards.
      I too read somewhere, perhaps in those forums, that any difference in approach to making the engines was completely down to the fact, as you said, that the British workers had all served apprenticeships and needed no help at all to do the job. The Americans, however, were best thought of as a group of men, totally unskilled and inexperienced, who needed a lot of training and help, but who got there in the end. ,

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