Friday, September 28, 2007

Frank Hampson drawing Dan Dare [video]

Thanks to Ray Aspden, Barnaby, Jeremy Briggs and Mark Pontin who have commented or contacted me directly, the mystery of the Frank Hampson art board has been resolved. You'll find an update below the video. For anyone who missed this first time round, here's the original question...

Some of you will remember clips of this film reel appearing in the second part of the recent Comics Britannia. The reel dates from 20 February 1956 and I've got a feeling that the page Frank Hampson is seen working on doesn't exist: in February '56, the 'Rogue Planet' storyline had been running for a couple of months and Sir Hubert had no part in the storyline which was to rumble on for another year. It doesn't look like a rough for an annual -- the layout is very much an Eagle front cover. Do any Dan Dare experts know where the page appeared or is it another "lost" Hampson page?

(* The above film reel is © British Pathe Limited.)

Ray Aspden was first out of the gate to tell me that "The bottom half of the page in the film clip is almost Eagle vol.6 no.28, Man from Nowhere, 15 July 1955, except that the piece of Sir Hubert's arm being coloured in is occupied by Lero the Crypt in the published page. The main panel is, as you say, unpublished and doesn't make narrative sense, given that the Crypt ship it shows had exploded and crashed into the Pacific by this time."

It is widely known that Frank Hampson produced incredibly detailed 'roughs' for each page of Dan Dare; however, Barnaby (see comments below) tells us that the piece above was filmed on 17 January 1956, so it is clear that this was a page that Frank created solely so that he could be seen drawing Dan on camera.

Ray adds: "The board behind Hampson looks like the iconic full page view of Mektonia from Eagle no.15." Below you'll see the fate of the Crypt spaceship (related in vol.6 no.21, 27 May 1955) plus the cover that Ray refers to which does indeed look like it's lurking in the corner of Frank's studio.

Jeremy Briggs asks: "Is that Don Harley putting the Treen mask on Peter Hampson?" Yes, Don was Hampson's main assistant on Dan Dare at the time and was one of the chief 'actors' at the Hampson studio when it came to taking reference photos for the strip. The chap in the spacesuit I think is Eric Eden. Joan Porter, Frank's long-time assistant can also be seen looking at the page towards the end of the clip.

The Crypt spaceship seen above crashes into the Pacific and it's interesting to see how the page was constructed -- which we can thanks to Alastair Crompton's The Man Who Drew Tomorrow, which reproduces Frank Hampson's rough along with some of photographs used for various frames. It's good to see that Don was co-credited with the strip around this time via the double signature in the middle frame.

(* Dan Dare is © Dan Dare Corporation.)


  1. No, that page -- or those images, certainly -- are definitely in "The Man from Nowhere," which was 1955-56. That's not the finished page, of course, and it's just possible that what we see Hampson working on in the clip is one of the highly detailed layout pages he used to do -- but probably not.

  2. This was filmed by Pathe on 17th January 1956. It was a 90 second segment in Pathe Pictorial No 60. Frank is seen reprising a frame for an Eagle 15.07.55. It was done solely for the camera.



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