First Issue: 14th April 1950
Last Issue: 26th April 1969
Although the introduction of speech balloons and new printing techniques in the 1930’s was seen as innovative, comics continued with the same premise and format until the groundbreaking arrival of the Eagle in 1950. The Eagle was the brainchild of Reverend Marcus Morris, who created the title in response to what he saw as the growth in popularity of violent American comics. In an era of post war optimism, hooped dresses, bouffant hair and Teddy Boys a ground breaking British comic produced by a reverend seemed unlikely. Morris and local artist Frank Hampson took their idea of wholesome boy’s comic including ‘Dan Dare – Pilot of the Future’, to Hulton Press who knew a good thing when they saw one. The Eagle was hugely influential and marked a departure from its contemporaries especially the British comics which had to sit up and take notice and change to compete with the new bigger kid on the block. The secret of the Eagle’s success was not necessarily due to its innate moral underpinning but its outstanding artistry and production values. The Eagle, which typically saw eighty percent of its pages in full colour photogravure was an over night success. The comic introduced such characters as PC 49, Captain Pugwash, Skippy the Kangaroo and many more during its nineteen year run but it was Dan Dare that became synonymous with both the Eagle and British comics. With the aid of his trusty friend Digby, Dan Dare’s encounters with the Mekon made him not only an icon of British comics but also an iconic figure in British pop culture.
A Letter From Australia
G’day from Australia. I saw that someone sold a mint copy of the first “Batman” comic the other day, and got enough money to virtually buy a small country. I really yearn for those days when I would go and pick up my comics from the corner shop, where I had a standing weekly order. They used to cost 2d each. I’d hate to see what they charge these days for “The Dandy” or “The Beano”. My favourite was “The Eagle”, where the very first edition was given to me by my grandma. That came out on a Friday, and if I remember, it cost 4d. Even when we came over here, she still sent me it by sea mail. It took six weeks in those days! I also remember “The Super Detective Library”. It was a small sort of a paperback type of “magazine”. It was about half A4 size, coloured cover, with black and white “panels” throughout...probably about 16 to 20 to a page, if I remember. It probably contained about 60 to 80 pages, I think. It covered every genre…crime, science fiction, war, etc., but NOT romance. When I first started buying it, about 1952, it cost me 1/3d in Oz. I collected every single one of those, then, when I moved out of home, sold them for next to nothing…including a HUGE pile of ”Superman” and “Superboy” comics.
Regards, John McGregor, Adelaide.