Monday, April 06, 2015

Sammy Goes Dutch

by Jeremy Briggs

When Swift comic began in March 1954 one of the original comic strips in it was "Sammy And His Speedsub". This was a black and white half page adventure strip in which young Sammy used his one boy sized Speedsub to help people in trouble. These one off, modern day stories were popular enough to soon be expanded to a full page as well as running in the early Swift Annuals. They continued in Swift until February 1957 when Sammy was suddenly invited to go visit a moonbase and the strip mutated into the science fiction themed "Sammy In Space" which was set in the same universe as Eagle’s "Dan Dare" strip.

While fictionally Sammy made it to the moon, in the real world he got as far as the Netherlands appearing in Arend, the Dutch version of Eagle. Arend was published in Holland between 1955 and 1966 and reprinted strips from not just Eagle but from Girl and Swift comics as well including "Daan Durf" (Dan Dare), "De Drie Js" (The Three Js) and "Harrie Twiet" (Harris Tweed).

For Arend Sammy became Rob and his Speedsub became a Wonderboat. In addition, and unusually for a strip that was created in black and white wash, at least some of the "Rob En Zijn Wonderboot" episodes appeared in colour on the back cover of Arend in 1958.

The single page story above shows the simplicity of the Speedsub plots, aimed as they were at an age range of 7 to 9 year olds, as the flying Speedsub saves a train from potential derailment. The story was originally published in Swift v2 #17 (23 April 1955) in black and white and reprinted in Arend v3 #38 (21 June 1958) in colour.

By 1959 Arend was publishing the "Sammy In Space" strips as "Rob In De Ruimte" and while their lunar pet Flap retained his original name, cousin Jill was rechristened as Margreet.

Again as with the Speedsub stories, some of the early Space stories were coloured for their publication in Arend.

(The original versions of this article appeared in Eagle Times v24 #1, Spring 2011, and v24 #4, Winter 2011. With thanks to John Swan.)

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