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Thursday, 18 December 2008

EAGLE ANNUAL the best of the 1950's

Orion Books
Edited by Daniel Tatarsky

Firstly I want to make it clear that I don't remember the original Eagle Comic. It's first incarnation ran from 1950 - 1969 when it was merged into Lion.

WIKI quote:

The Eagle was the creation of the Reverend Marcus Morris, then vicar of St James' church,Southport, Lancashire, who intended it as a Christian antidote to what he saw as the bad influence of American comics during the post-war period. He strove to produce high quality, inspirational literature unlike any existing at the time, involving the work of teams of graphic artists such as Frank Hampson and Frank Bellamy - even creating mockups of spaceships to use as reference for Dan Dare. The Eagle and its sister papers Girl, Swift and Robin were designed by renowned typographer Ruari McLean, and were read by millions throughout the 1950s and 1960s. Eagle was one of the most popular comics in British history, selling just under 1 millioncopies per week.

END WIKI quote

This collection co
mes in a great

retro looking boards that have bee produced to look aged and at first glance the book does appear to be a keepsake from the 1950's.

Reading it now is great fun - you can tell a lot about an era from reading its magazines and the 1950's must have been a far more innocent time. Look at the panel here in which Dan Dare fro licks in the bath after a mission. That would be slightly suspect to say the least in today's comics and would get the likes of the Daily Racist (whoops sorry, Daily Mail) in a right spin.

A nice touch with this book is the side panels giving a pocket history of the strip characters. For instance I learned here that Harris Tweed: Extra Special Agent was created by John Ryan who would later go onto create TV's Captain Pugwash. And that world YO-YO champion, Art Pickles recommends the Outspan Whistling Yo-Yo.

The comic wasn't only about strips and as well as text stories it also carried magazine type features that would interest the 1950's comic reading boy. This book contains many of these features such as HOW TO LOOK AFTER YOUR GOLDFISH, TRAINING YOUR FOX TERRIER, HOW TO BECOME A POSTMAN, JIU-JITSU FOR SELF DEFENCE AND MOST BIZARRE COLLECTING CHEESE LABELS - a hobby known as fromology.

Eagle of course was intended for boys but there was a companion title called Girl for girls and there is an annual collection of that magazine also available in the shops.

These books are excellently put together with a great eye for detail in the presentation and are great buys for anyone interested in the history of comic books...or cheese label collecting.


Ray said...

Collecting cheese labels was fun. Mostly from triangles that came in many flavours like tomato, ham, blue cheese etc. Unlike today when cheese triangles come in just one flavour.
All through the fifties and into the early sixties the 'Eagle' was the number one comic followed closely by the 'Beano' and the 'Dandy'. If I recall rightly 'Lion' and 'Tiger' were the 'opposition'. Just as 'School Friend' was the rival to 'Girl'.
Size wise - think of 'Eagle' as 'Financial Times' and 'Lion' the equivelant of the 'Daily Mirror'.
As for the Eagle Annual itself mine ended up very much like the one pictured.
The only thing I have against this annual is that there are just tasters and not enough complete stories which is a pity.
Correct me if I'm wrong but I don't recall seeing a 'PC49' story in the annual. This character was brought to life in a BBC radio series.


Ray - there is a PC 49 story in this annual

Charles Gramlich said...

I don't think we got those over here. I don't remember ever hearing of them.


Charles - yeah the Eagle was a UK thing but I think Dan Dare has been published in the US.

Chap O'Keefe said...

Yes, the Eagle was one of the great comics for sure, though as a kid in the '50s with only pennies a week for pocket money I mainly bought the text story papers, like The Champion and The Rover. They lasted longer!

I do still have a genuine, original Eagle Annual from that era. And, of course, all its stories and features are complete rather than tasters.

Another novelty I have is a pinball "bagatelle" game featuring Eagle's Riders of the Range.

In the 1960s I worked for Odhams Books, who as part of the huge IPC group were responsible by then for publishing the Eagle's annual. I wrote scripts for strips featuring Blackbow the Cheyenne and the Iron Man. One year I wrote the lead text story. About a World War II Atlantic convoy, it was called The Stragglers. Later, that story was picked up and reprinted, many times, in a popular Hamlyn anthology, Thrilling Stories for Boys.


Michael Martin said...

I have one single Eagle my uncle gave me, from some time in the 60's (it was still tabloid format at this stage, but Dan Dare is smaller and moved to the inside, the cover is taken up by a story called UFO Agent). I can't beleive how good it is, it reads like one of the better christmas annuals of a comic, but they used to put out something of that quality every week!