Friday, 6 August 2010
And ‘The Eagle’ meant only one thing: Dan Dare. There are two abiding memories of those hospital days; Dan Dare and the ominous rattle of the blood-testing trolley. But blood aside, I’d been introduced to the delights of Frank Hampson’s iconic pilot by a school friend who had been following his adventures for some years and I’d badgered my parents to buy me ‘The Eagle’ on regular order – my first comic. Unfortunately I entered the fray too late to witness Hampson’s own celebrated artwork as he had left the strip in 1960 having completed a 10 year run on the characters he had created in 1950 but with artists Frank Bellamy and then Keith Watson doing a sterling job recreating the futuristic world of Dare and Digby, I was hooked.
In retrospect, the original Dan Dare stories come across now as a sort of WWII RAF squadron in space complete with pipe and banter, but they are still hugely imaginative and combine story telling with eye-boggling artwork in a way only comics can manage. It is why I still enjoy comics to this day, although in the face of the virtual demise of the British comic industry, I have now shifted my allegiance to the American comic-book.
But going back to Dan, I remember a story called ‘The Mushroom’ in which the green dome-headed Mekon attempts to invade earth via a mushroom structure built on the earth’s surface. It is the story that I read and re-read during those long hours in hospital and as the memory fades, I would love to see it again in print.
Luckily, Titan Books are reprinting the collected Dan Dare stories in hardback at the rate of about 40 weeks worth of comics per issue and two hardback releases a year. So far they have published 10 volumes with a further two promised for 2010 which takes Dan up to about the end of 1959. I have calculated that it will take them about another three to four years before ‘The Mushroom’ appears, assuming Titan have not stopped publishing. I can wait. After 45 years, a few more won’t make much difference.
But if they could see their way clear to speeding up the process, I wouldn’t object.