Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Dan Dare Returns

According to a press release from Virgin Comics, they are to publish a new series of Dan Dare comics from November, written by Garth Ennis and drawn by Gary Erskine.

Branson has acquired the publishing, TV, movie and videogame rights to Dare. The comic will be part of the Virgin Comics lineup which already includes a number of high profile titles created by movie directors such as John Woo, Terry Gilliam and Guy Ritchie and actor Nick Cage, although the strips are then written by lesser mortals.

Here's the press release in full:


London, England - August 27, 2007 - Aviator and entrepreneur Sir Richard Branson today announced that Virgin Comics (www.virgincomics.com) will be bringing legendary super hero Dan Dare out of retirement and back into the outer reaches of the galaxy, with an all new Dan Dare comic book series. The new series will be published monthly beginning November 2007 and will be written by legendary comic author, Garth Ennis (author of Preacher, The Boys, Hitman, John Woo's Seven Brothers and other acclaimed and best selling titles).

Dan Dare has been an icon since 1950. Elaborate stories of his space travel and galactic battles defending people of the universe captivated post-War baby boomers. Dan Dare's adventures burst to the forefront of pop culture, selling nearly 1 million copies each week in the pages of the Eagle comic.

"Dan Dare is the quintessential British hero. He's our Captain America, our Superman, our Batman, he's all of them rolled into one. He's the original and the best." said Garth Ennis, recipient of several National Comics Awards for the best in UK comics and Will Eisner Awards for the best in US comics.

"Dan Dare is an heroic, thoughtful and fiercely independent character, I was an avid reader of his epic journeys. It is a pleasure for Virgin Comics to be involved with such a legendary character - one of the original great aviators" said Sir Richard Branson.

"Dan Dare is the real original Super Hero. In the '50s, on the front page of The Eagle, he was selling one million copies a week. Today, his impact and appeal to readers across the UK and around the world can be even greater with Virgin Comics. This is a perfect partnership." said Colin Frewin, CEO of the Dan Dare Corporation. "Superman, Batman and Spider-Man beware - Dan Dare - Pilot of the Future is back to protect us all.

Virgin Comics' Dan Dare is set in the future, albeit not too many decades from the present day. Colonel Dare is still vibrant and courageous - but now he's retired. His retirement is a self-imposed exile, the result of his disgust with politics and the post-nuclear warfare that has destroyed North America and much of Asia - leaving the UK as the wold's last remaining superpower. Readers familiar with Dan Dare stories will recognize many of the original cast including a wiser and more experienced Digby; the innovative brilliant and beautiful Professor Peabody; and of course the enemy of all that is good, the super-intelligent ruler of the Treens - The Mekon, together with a mix of galactic evil beings.

"Dan Dare and Virgin are a perfect combination - two iconic UK brands. We are thrilled to be working with Colin and Garth to redefine this quintessential character for a new generation of readers around the world." said Sharad Devarajan, Virgin Comics' CEO.

"Dan Dare + Garth Ennis = AWESOME," explains Gotham Chopra, Virgin Comics' Chief Creative Officer. "there's not much more to say because this is a combination that doesn't require hype - great comic heroes plus great comic writers equal a great time for all of us. Expect nothing less."

According to a Variety article by Marc Graser, the storyline involves Dare emerging from a self-imposed exile, the result of his disgust with politics and the post-nuclear warfare that has destroyed North America and much of Asia -- leaving the U.K. as the world's last remaining superpower. This, and the image released (see top of column), makes it pretty clear that this will not be the Dan Dare of the 1950s Eagle. Guns are definitely in.

At the same time, Garth Ennis has already proved that he can take a character -- Battler Britton -- and write a new story around him whilst retaining the flavour of the old stories.

Here's the text from Previews for the first issue:

"He brokered peace with alien races, pushed the frontiers of space, and saved the planet from total annihilation… repeatedly. But now, his Space Fleet has disbanded, the United Nations has crumbled, his friends scattered to the solar winds. Britain is once again the world power, but Dare, disillusioned and disappointed in his once-precious home country, has quietly retired. But there’s trouble mustering in Deep Space. The H.M.S. Achilles is picking up strange signals when, suddenly, an enormous fleet of hostile ships ambushes the destroyer. As the crew struggles to stay alive, they realize with horror that the hostiles have brought a weapon of unimaginable power. Dan Dare, pilot of the future, has been called out of retirement!"

But there's more: according to Graser, "CAA [Creative Artists' Agency] is packaging the potential film and meeting with clients about the project." Virgin Comics have already inked one deal with producer Joel Silver to adapt Guy Ritchie's The Gamekeeper which Ritchie will direct.

Richard Sheaf reports at the Down the Tubes blog that although the PR cover is by Bryan Talbot, the first seven issue of the new comic will have covers by Gary Leach.

(While we're visiting the blogosphere, Lew Stringer correctly points out on his Blimey! blog that Dan has been appearing regularly in the pages of Spaceship Away for the past few years, so the revival is hardly new.)

The news broke yesterday while I was at a wedding. Old time UKCAC-goers may not recognise the lass on the right as Nicola Broad who, twenty years ago, slinked onto the stage as Catgirl. It's the glasses... or not getting married in a cat suit. One or the other. Jon is well known to all in the gaming community as the man behind Ground Zero Games.

Some things are more important than even Dan Dare.

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