Dan Dare was created by Frank Hampson, who wrote much of the story, and who drew or oversaw the drawing of the strip for ten years. For the enthusiasts, these are the Golden Years. After FH, Bellamy and others drew the strip, but the style was too different for many to accept. The remaining stories were drawn by various FH assistants. Slowly the strip lost both its freshness and the sense of continuity and detail that had given it such a following.
But this drawing is magnificent. Look at the detail on the water! This is from Vol 2 No. 6, just over a year since Eagle began.
Most of the 'classic' Dan Dare stories featured the Mekon as his arch enemy. The Mekon was from the northern part of Venus, and ruled over the Treens.
... but Dan's fate never quite was, somehow! This is from 'Reign of the Robots'. By now the style had become highly polished.
But the great appeal of Dan Dare was the range of supporting characters. In the 'mainstream' stories, they were almost as important as Dan himself, and when a character popped up in a story, it was with the sense of meeting an old friend. Here are some of the cast:
This is Digby, Dan's faithful batman. He turns up in every story, provides some rather heavy handed humour, but can always be relied to come up trumps when needed!
Sir Hubert Guest - Spacefleet Controller. Hank Hogan is in the viewer screen. Behind Sir Hubert is his assistant, O'Reilly. Frank Hampson at his best - but it's a frame tucked away on the inside page! This is from a relatively early story - the 'Red Moon Mystery'.
Sir Hubert looking rather more dishevelled. In the midst of a fight with Treens, he has accidentally paralysed Dan. Sir Hubert was modelled by Hampson's father Robert, and Sir Hubert is actually a portrait of Robert Hampson. This is a frame from the very first story set on Venus.
Left to right: Commander Lex O'Malley; Flamer Spry, the cadet, with Stripey; Pierre Lafayette and Professor Peabody:
This is Dan's personal spaceship, Anastasia, seen here having been shot up by Treen fighters [there was still a lot of World War Two imagery in Dan Dare].
And finally ...
... a frame from 'Prisoners of Space'. Although this story was illustrated by the freelance artist Desmond Walduck, I'll wager quite a sum that this frame was by Hampson. Digby is on the left, Flamer Spry on the right - Treens in the background. Spacefleet pistols fired paralysing gas - no 'zapping' here!