Tuesday, August 24, 2021

Eagle Times v32 no2 (Summer 2021)

Eagle Times continues to find fascinating facts about the original Eagle comic, even in its 32nd year. This is rather a sad issue, as can be seen from the cover, but it nevertheless celebrates as it commiserates.

My favourite feature is, again, Ernest Reed's look back at 'The Phantom Fleet'. With access to the original script and editorial notes from the Eagle office (chiefly Ellen Vincent), the article dissects Alan Stranks's story and how it was guided and influenced by Frank Hampson, whose own notes could be caustic, viewing one of Stranks's scripts as a "rather woolly" interpretation of his (Frank's) story outline and wanting the storyline wrapped up as soon as possible.

More peeks behind the scenes come in the latest look at what remains of the Dan Dare Studio 'Ideas Book' — a sketch pad of spaceships and other vehicles, some of which made it into the 'Rogue Planet' storyline.

There are two tributes in this issue. The first is to Don Harley, the quiet, modest artist who died earlier this year. David Britton's tribute discusses Harley's background and his time working with Frank Hampson, where he was considered the studio's finest Dan Dare artist, second only to Hampson. Harley eventually became bored of the studio system, working briefly on the Frank Bellamy era Dare before finding work elsewhere, most notably various Gerry Anderson strips (Thunderbirds, Lady Penelope and Captain Scarlet) and a range of stories for D. C. Thomson, including work for Wizard, Hotspur, Magic, Emma and the long-running 'Sammy the Sheepdog' for Twinkle.

The second tribute is to the late Prince Philip, who appeared more than once in the pages of Eagle, in the special Coronation number of 1953 and, a decade later, a feature about Prince Philip as a role model.

Now, if you watched Philip's funeral, you'll remember it  featured a bespoke Land Rover Defender designed by Philip himself to carry his coffin. The Land-Rover was a post-war utility vehicle inspired by the American Jeep, and a rebuilt Jeep is central to a feature by Bob Corn about how the Eagle Book of Cars and Motorsport inspired the purchase of a fixer-upper and a trip to Europe.

We have a couple of continuations of articles from previous issues, including the latest episode of David Gould's look at 'Riders of the Range', this time their trip to London in 'The Heir of Duncrieff' (1954-55), and Steve Winder's exploration of 'The Golden Man', the last of Eagle's back-page biographies. Winders also provides the latest episode in an adaptation of P.C.49's radio adventures concluding 'The Case of the Plastic Cowboys'.

The quarterly magazine is the journal of the Eagle Society, with membership costing £29 in the UK, £40 (in sterling) overseas. You can send subscriptions to Bob Corn, Wellcroft Cottage, Wellcroft, Ivinghoe, Leighton Buzzard, Bedfordshire LU7 9EF; subs can also be submitted via PayPal to membership@eagle-society.org.uk. Back issues are available for newcomers to the magazine and they have even issued binders to keep those issues nice and neat.

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