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Sunday, March 07, 2021

Review: Jeff Hawke's Cosmos: The Epilogue (January 2021)


The final issue of Jeff Hawke's Cosmos is a bumper package, clocking in at a whopping 158 pages. It has a nice package of features to run alongside the final three comic strip adventures of Jeff Hawke, some additional colour and even a celebration of the contributors who helped put together the magazine over its 18 year history. I was one of those contributors in the early years, and I'm proud of the association.

But my contribution was the tiniest fraction of the totality that is Jeff Hawke's Cosmos. William Rudling and his crew—chief amongst them Duncan Lunan and Ian Pillinger—deserve three rowdy cheers for their perseverance and patience in putting together over 30 issues and specials. It's an astonishing feat, as anyone who has tried to put a magazine together will tell you. There are lots of moving parts and any one of them can go wrong!

This issue is 'The Epilogue' and it contains four stories: 'A Message For Medusa' (1986-87); 'Time's Jest' (1987); 'Out of the Ecliptic' (1987-88); and 'Song For Methuselah' (1988). As always, each story is accompanied by Duncan Lunan's notes, which also extend beyond the last story, which was cut short when The Daily Record axed the strip on 30 April 1988. Lunan discusses two potential stories that went unpublished, although details have appeared previously on the Jeff Hawke Club blog. [You will need to dig around, but the notes start in September 2017.]

As a prelude the stories, Rudling writes briefly of Syd Jordan's days at the Strathmore Studios before Syd himself picks up the story of his career in Fleet Street. There's a brief interview with Syd courtesy of Chris Tubb before we reach the main course of the magazine, the first of some 90 pages of comic strips.

Duncan Lunan supplies the last of his 'The Sky Above You' columns before tackling the intriguing problem of episode numbers that were attached to Jeff Hawke and Lance McLean stories. How many episodes were published of the strip(s)? It would appear that the grand total was 10,209.

Roger Ley discusses Britain's future role in space exploration—inconclusive but Roger remains optimistic, while I'm more pessimistic following the current government's decision to pull out of the Galileo and EGNOS programmes, which means losing access (for instance) to the EGNOS SoL (Safety of Life) service from 25 June this year. The government also admits "UK-based businesses, academics and researchers cannot bid for future EU GNSS [Global Navigation Satellite System] contracts and may face difficulty carrying out and completing existing contracts." But that's an argument for another day.

There's an interesting look at some of the guest appearances that have made their way into Jeff Hawke's adventures, from friends and family to Boris Karloff, Sydney Greenstreet and Princess Di, and Sandy Morrison writes on crewed exploration of the solar system. The colour pages at the back of the issue include numerous photos of Syd Jordan's attendances at talks and conventions and a couple of nice colour prints are available... as are back issues of the magazine and its special issues.

That is not the very end, as there are plans for a further issue, indexing the magazine and collecting some previously unpublished episodes.

Meanwhile, you can find more details about back numbers at the Jeff Hawke Club web page or by contacting william AT williamrudling.co.uk.

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