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Dan Dare and Eagle

What do the characters Colonel Daniel McGregor Dare, Digby, Sir Hubert Guest, Professor Peabody, Hank Hogan and Lex O'Malley have in common? They all feature in the science-fiction comic strip series “Dan Dare, Pilot of the Future”!

We were recently lucky enough to purchase a large collection of Eagle and Dan Dare related items. Not having purchased much of this kind of stock previously I hadn't actually realised that there was a connection between Eagle and Dan Dare! So I did a little research...

The Eagle comic was founded by the Rev. Marcus Morris together with Frank Hampson and publication started in 1950. It was more than a comic for boys, though, as it contained educational features, articles on sports and hobbies, cut-away diagrams of the latest technologies of the time, and so on. The character of Dan Dare was created for the very first issue of the Eagle comic.

In case you haven't guessed, Dan Dare is a British science-fiction comic hero, some might say the star feature of the Eagle comic. The stories were set in the late 1990s and Dan Dare has been described as “Biggles in Space” and the British equivalent of Buck Rogers. Dan Dare (Colonel Daniel McGregor Dare) was chief pilot of the Interplanet Space Fleet. Although not a super-hero, he was an exceptional pilot and often proved extraordinarily lucky! It seems that the main theme of the stories is Dan's arch-enemy – The Mekon (super-intelligent ruler of the Treens) – constantly trying to capture earth. He escapes at the end of each story and returns with even more inventive schemes!

At the start of this article I named some of Dare's supporting cast, here is a little more information:

Digby (Albert Fitzwilliam Digby): Dare's right-hand man, providing light relief in difficult situations. Fiercely loyal and the only character apart from Dan to appear in every story.

Sir Hubert Guest: Controller of the Space Fleet and responsible for Dan's missions, occasionally joining him.

Professor Peabody (Prof Jocelyn Mabel Peabody): the only female to have a major role in the stories, she was the brains behind the team's most inventive plans.

Hank Hogan: One of the Fleet's best mechanics.

Lex O'Malley: a bearded Irish submarine commander who accompanies Dare on later missions

Space vehicles were a BIG part of the Dan Dare stories, and the spacecraft most identified within the Dan Dare stories was the winged Anastasia. An experimental time-travelling ship was also featured and O'Malley's ship Poseidon was an exceptional craft, being able to operate as a jet-foil as well as a submarine. Other vehicles featured were normal land and air vehicles with London transport using overhead mono-rails and heli-buses in early stories and a little more 'out there' were ground transport cars drawn with gyroscopes and single wheels.

Dan Dare was an amazingly successful character,  appearing in the Eagle comic from its birth until its demise in the late 1960s. In 1977 Dan Dare again featured in the weekly comic 2000 AD, but this Dan had little in common with the original creation of Frank Hampson and due to the growing popularity of Judge Dredd in the comic he faded away. However, he was re-born yet again in 1982 when the Eagle comic was re-launched, this time proving popular enough to last until 1989.

Dan Dare has proved to be a very popular character over the years allowing both Hawk Books and Titan Books to be able to successfully re-produce some of the original stories into books.

Contribued by Maria

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