Martin Aitchison started drawing for the Eagle in the early fifties, with the story "Luck of the Legion". The strip occupied the half part of the centre spread in the middle of the comic - the top half being the famous Eagle cutaway drawings which are on other pages. The stories were scripted by Geoffrey Bond, who wrote a lot for Eagle in the 50s, a much of it under the pen name of Alan Jason. Both are still hale and hearty, and met again for the first time in thirty years at the 1996 Eagle Society dinner, and were kind enough to give us their accounts of working together. Martin has been deaf since childhood as a result of measles, but was an entertaining speaker.
Here are Luck [centre], his trusty number two, Corporal Trenet [top left with moustache], and Legionnaire Bimberg [bottom left]. The script could be a little gung ho by modern standards!
Bimberg was one of Eagle's great comic creations, and Martin played it up even when the script didn't demand it. Here he is spoiling the legionnaires' march through Paris, to the great delight of the Parisian crowd.
No adventure strip is complete without misunderstandings with authority! Needless to say, Luck and Co. escaped from captivity, and rescued the Legion post from imminent danger.
But the new editorial team after the publisher Hulton was taken over made many sweeping changes, and Luck of the Legion, after several years service in Eagle, was finally axed. Martin illustrated a series called 'Danger Unlimited' [seen on the right], which was an attempt to update Eagle with a James Bond type story line. It didn't run for long tho, and then Martin illustrated Conan Doyle's book 'The Lost World', followed by the Hornblower stories, by C.S. Forester. The latter were less successful to my mind : neither the scripts not the drawing captured the spirit of Hornblower.
Leaving Eagle, Martin went on to illustrate Ladybird books, as did quite a few ex-Eagle artists. [For American readers, Ladybird books are for youngsters about 6-8 years old, and have proved very successful].