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Monday, March 14, 2011

News from Spaceship Away!

Spaceship Away!, the long-running (since 2003) Dan Dare magazine, is now under new management. The announcement has been expected for some time as it has been widely known that Rod Barzilay, the magazine's founder, was planning to step down as editor. The 22 issues under Rod's editorship have been notable for the high standards of presentation that he set from the beginning. The latest (Autumn 2010) issue was a bumper 52 pages, printed in full colour throughout with a gorgeous wraparound Ian Kennedy cover.

The issue saw the last three episodes of 'Green Nemesis', Rod's meticulous recreation of the original Dan Dare. Spaceship Away! was originally founded as a vehicle to run 'The Phoenix Mission', a new Dan Dare story (written under license) which was to have been drawn by Keith Watson; the project, which dates back to the early 1990s, was financed by fans who were offered the opportunity to buy the original artwork for the story. Watson's death in 1994 after only one completed page put the project on hold until Don Harley, one of Frank Hampson's original assistants—and, many would argue, responsible for some of Dan's finest hours—agreed to pick up the baton.

Spaceship Away! was launched some years later as a means to publish 'The Phoenix Mission', the first 24-page issue appearing in the Autumn of 2003. A second Dan Dare strip, 'Project Pluto', was added with the second issue and a prequel, 'Rocket Pilot' with issue three. By issue 8, the page count was up to 40 pages, with the line-up now featuring regular humour strips, features and interviews, as well as a reprint of 'Journey Into Space'. A newly colourised 'Garth' has been published in recent issues.

It is no secret that the magazine has been heavily subsidised throughout its lifetime and the handover has been in the planning for many months. The new editor will be Des Shaw.

On Friday, Rod announced that "It has taken longer than expected but now new licenses have been paid and most details of this years' Spaceship Away!s have been sorted."

Publication of the 3-yearly issues will now move to March, July and November, with issue 23 due within the next few of weeks. Recent rises in costs, including license fees, postage and packaging, has meant that the 7-for-the-price-of-6 offer that has been a feature of the magazine since its beginning has been brought to an end, although subscriptions for three issues at a time will still be available. The cover price has risen to £7.50 (the first price rise since the magazine's inception) and a three issue sub. will cost £20, which still results in a substantial saving. EU and overseas subscriptions for surface mail delivery have risen to £24; airmail to EU countries is now £27 and airmail overseas is £30.

Copies (including back issues) can still be ordered via the Spaceship Away! website.

Issue 23 will begin a new Dan Dare story written by John Freeman with artwork by Mike Nicoll and lettering by Jim Campbell. According to Freeman, 'Pre-Emptive Strike' "is set on the moon and [features] some very bizarre aliens designed by Mike."

Here at Bear Alley we wish Rod all the best for the future.

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