The Changing Faces of Dan ....

Different artists drew Dan differently. Altho Frank Hampson was his creator, many other artists were to draw him, some with Frank's blessing, others without. The gallant Colonel went through many metamorphoses in the course of his career.

From 1950 to 1959 he was drawn by Frank, albeit with 2 long breaks [Marooned on Mercury (Harold Johns) and the end of Saturn, and Prisoners of Space (Desmond Walduck)], then came Bellamy; Harley and Cornwell; then Keith Watson. Keith carried on until the first issue of 1966, then apart from a 4 episode oddity from Eric Kincaid, it was all reprints.

Then the New Eagle came along, and various artists contributed, though Dan was by now a very different character. Keith Watson came back for two stories, then new Eagle also folded. There was a brief oddity in 1996 with a short lived [one issue] Sunday newspaper called The Planet, which concentrated on ecological matters. This had a page of articles about Dan and the Eagle, and a second page with the start of a new story, drawn by Sydney Jordan, ... which died with the paper.

Here are some early FH portraits :

The left hand picture is from the inside of issue number one, and the odd colouring is due to the fading of the inks between 1950 and today. The second is Dan being tipped out of a farm vehicle on Venus, also from 1950.

This is again typical of the "early" FH style, and shows a standard profile view.

This illustrates several points : FH had a favourite "over the shoulder" viewpoint - what you would see if you were standing behind someone. It also shows the quirk of the raised, trademark, eyebrow and quizzical look, and is a typical "middle period" FH picture, with much more sophisticated colouring and drawing.

These are two drawings by Harold Johns, who took over during the first period of FH's increasing ill health, for the 3rd Dan Dare story, Marooned on Mercury. Harold was also one of the study team, and his work can be seen patches in the Rad Moon and Operation Saturn.

And this is Desmond Walduck's interpretation. Walduck drew the strip for over a year - the end of Operation Saturn and then almost the entire Prisoners of Space. He was not part of the Hampson studio, but was freelance, first working for Eagle on the 1953 Dan Dare Space Annual. Walduck and FH met only once. The studio team would prepare "visuals" - detailed drawings with comments pencilled in - which the final artwork work was prepared from.

FH and the team took over again for the next several years, until Frank fell out with the the editor. Then came Bellamy, with very mixed results. But these show an older, more careworn Colonel ... and you can see why some of the fans didn't take to them!

The right hand picture shows the updated costumes/uniforms of Project Nimbus. Had Bellamy drawn all of this story, it could have been a classic.

Don Harley was FH's main assistant from '52 to '59, and had developed a very similar style. To me, tho, it is too bland ... the very reverse of Bellamy, which made them all the more incongruous when they often juxtaposed within the same issue.

Then came Keith Watson. He had been one of the assistant artists in FH's Epsom studio, and portraits of Dan which are recognisably his can be seen as far back as the Phantom Fleet. With FH's departure from Terra Nova he drew more of the strip [but, I regret, not very well]. He too then left, and worked on Captain Condor in the Lion for some time. Then in 1962 he came back. as the sole artist, with Dan relegated inside and in b&w. The strip mutated in shape, size and positioning, and Keith found himself doing 2 sides of colour work mostly by himself - and the pressure of work shows. Then came the reprints.

Two frames from Keith's first b&w story, the Earth Savers. In terms of the b&w stories, this one isn't too bad ...

This is a very much later picture, and shows how Keith was influenced, consciously or unconsciously, by FH.

And a last final, feeble fling ... a 4 issue story called Underwater Attack, drawn by Eric Kinkaid. Then more reprints.

Altho the Eagle folded in 1969, it was resurrected in 1982. It obviously started with good intentions, but soon went downmarket, merging with Tiger. Dan took many forms : a fairly standard edition by David Pugh, a great grandson version by a Spanish artist Cruz, and a Schwartznegger/Alien 2 type character, which is Dan cryogenically stored and resurrected centuries later.

drawn by Cruz ...

... what might be described as the Schwartnegger approach ...

Hampson's original concept had been that of a character who could be believed in as human, with all the human foibles, strenghts, and weaknesses ... not the 'superhero' approach adopted here.

And these by David Pugh .. and at least one pose looks eerily familiar [in the same issue - 5th May 1990 - there's a portrait of Prof Peabody copied diretcly from a Harold Johns' portrait in 1952!].

And Keith also came back. The storyline here was much closer to the 'old' Dan Dare, altho still 'action packed'.

Finally ... the new Sunday newspaper, the Planet, which lasted for one issue on June 16th 1996. Inside it had a page devoted to the 'old' Dan Dare, with a long article about Frank Hampson by Alastair Crompton, and the start of a new story illustrated by Sydney Jordan. Set in 'the Third Millenium', it featured in 8 frames a Spitfire, a Treen father and son (!?!), the grave of Sir Hubert and ....

Sydney Jordan, June 1996.

Now ..

back to the Dan Dare page.