Sunday, December 25, 2011

Number 1076

A Dan Dare Christmas

"I saw three spaceships come sailing in,
On Christmas Day, on Christmas Day;
I saw three spaceships come sailing in,
On Christmas Day in the morning..."

Merry Christmas to all you Pappy readers. We're sailing across the pond to the United Kingdom via our online "spaceship" to celebrate the holiday, with a strip from the 1955 Eagle Annual, featuring Frank Hampson's Dan Dare.

Dan Dare was published weekly in Eagle in the UK. I like the strip very much, and especially the beautiful painted work of artist Frank Hampson. I'll refer you to some websites: Frank and the Wikipedia entry on the Eagle comic paper, where Dan Dare appeared.

What ties this strip to Pappy's is that the Eagle was created as a more wholesome response to the American horror comic books introduced to that country by American GI's stationed in England, and British sailors bringing back comics they picked up in U.S. ports. American comics weren't the only things imported that caused alarm. As I recall, a couple of years later there was this little thing called rock 'n' roll...

Happy Christmas to all!

Here's a vintage Pathé newsreel story about Hampson. Just click on the picture:


Creig Flessel, one of the earliest of the comic book journeymen, left comic books and after a stint as an assistant to comic strip artist John H. Streibel on "Dixie Dugan" went to the advertising agency, Johnstone and Cushing. In the heyday of comic art many ads were drawn comic art style by top comic artists (Lou Fine, Milton Caniff, Noel Sickles among others). The real money was in advertising, where pages were drawn for hundreds of dollars rather than a paltry few dollars at the comic book companies.

Beginning in the early 1950s Johnstone and Cushing provided the 8-page comic supplement to Boys' Life magazine. Flessel did this two-page adaptation of Dickens' A Christmas Carol for the December, 1952 issue. It boils the story down to 23 panels, but the tale is so familiar we just fill in the details in our own heads. Flessel's artwork is outstanding. Flessel worked for many more years in various fields of comic art and advertising. He died at age 96 in 2008.


Mr. Cavin said...

Wow, this Dan Dare story is excellent. I've never seen any of these. Is the writing this consistently excellent? I love the way the characters talk to each other like real people who like and work with one another. Plus the art is dynamo, as you mentioned.

Happy Christmas, Pappy! Sorry this comment is a month late, but (like everyone else it seems) I was off on holiday travel, and am just starting to catch back up now. Thanks for everything.

carreaux said...

A very (belated) Merry Christmas to you, Pappy, and bless you for introducing me to a Dan Dare strip I've never seen before.

I've read the compilations of the "Eagle" cover stories and enjoyed them greatly, so it's always nice to find a one-off like this.

There was an attempt to make a Dare TV series back in the 'eighties, which came to nothing, as did a film project in the 'nineties. The most recent thing was a CG animated series a few years ago that was pretty watchable (although they changed Digby from a Lancastrian to a Cockney, which was and is an unforgivable heresy). Oh, and just checking that on IMDb reveals a new Dan Dare movie slated for next year. Yes, well, I'll believe it when I see it.

By the way, Frank Hampson also did some Doctor Who art for BBC publications in the early 'seventies. As might be expected given his eye for machines, he could certainly paint a mean Dalek.