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The Eagle

Posted by Big Boo on September 29th, 2008

The Eagle was a comic that originally appeared in the UK in 1950.  Surprisingly, it was the brainchild of a vicar, one Reverend Marcus Morris, who disliked the American style of comic books and wanted to produce something a little more discerning for British boys to read.  The comic spawned much loved character Dan Dare, chief pilot of the Interplanet Space Fleet, and his arch-enemy the green skinned alien known as The Mekon.

After several mergers with other comics The Eagle finally disappeared from newsagents shelves in 1969, but it was brought back for a new generation in 1982 in a revamped form.  It still had its sights set firmly on the quality end of the comic market, and of course brought back its legendary hero Dan Dare.  As the image shows, the first issue also had a free gift to tempt young boys who had never heard of the comic before into sampling it over their usual weekly read.

The new comic was a mixture of comic strip stories and features about sportsmen, TV shows and the like, basically anything that an early teens boy would likely enjoy reading about.  The comic strips were presented in a mixture of styles, with some being hand drawn and others being photostrip stories.

The photostrips were fairly unique for boys comics.  Given the subject matter for stories in many girls magazines, which was usually about a girl day dreaming about a cute boy she had met and talking with her friends about him, the photostory was a good choice.  The Eagles stories tended to be more action or science fiction based however, which meant that special effects were required to bring the stories to life.  Now that wouldn’t be such a problem with the aid of computer graphics and digital photography, but back then such things were not so easily possible, so rubber masks and other tricks were required to create the required scenes.

The best example from The Eagle of a photostrip is surely Doomlord.  This was an ongoing saga about a shape changing alien who came to Earth to judge humanity.  If we were found wanting then the Earth would be destroyed – so no pressure then.  This strip was incredibly popular, despite the sometimes wooden posing of the actors involved, but Doomlord himself, when in his true form, was quite a scary looking creature.  Eventually Doomlord did become a hand drawn strip, but I remember thinking the photostrip stories did look cool at the time.

Sadly, The Eagle finally flew off once more in 1994, although Dan Dare has stilled put in the odd appearance from time to time in both comic form and as a computer generated TV show.