Frank Hampson was born in 1918 in Audenshaw, Manchester. He spent most of his childhood in Southport, where as a teenager he contributed artwork to the meccano magazine. After leaving school Frank worked for the Post Office. When the Second World War arrived, he found himself in the Royal Army Service Corps for the duration of the war. After being demobbed in 1946 he embarked on a 3 year course at the Southport School of Arts and Craft. In order to supplement his grant, Frank began to take on a number of freelance assignments, it was through this work that he came to meet the Rev. Marcus Morris, contributing illustrations to his Christian magasine, The Anvil. When Marcus Morris decided to set up a boys comic, Frank Hampson was the first choice to illustrate the comic.
Frank set up a unique studio system for Dan Dare, gathering a team of six artists to work on the strip, with himself as principal artist. In the early years, he also scripted the story. Frank Hampson finally left the strip in 1960, when he began a major work based upon the life of Christ which was to feature on the back page of Eagle.
Sadly, Frank had suffered ill health all his life. in July 1985
he fell seriously ill with cancer and died shortly afterwards.
Some examples of his work:-a frame from Eagle issue 1, a who's who of Dan's companions.
Harold Johns was one of the original Dan Dare artists, having known Frank Hampson from thier time at art school together. Harold worked closely with Greta Tomlinson, the two of them illustrating many of Dan's early adventures, including practically the entire artwork for Marooned on Mercury. He left the studio in 1953 and continued his work as an illustrator. He died suddenly, whilst out sketching, in 1980, aged 62.
Greta Tomlinson had studied at the Slade Art School in London berore joining the Dan Dare team. Whilst at the studio she worked closely with Harold Johns. Perhaps her most notable achievement is being the model for Professor Peabody, one of Dan's crew on many of his adventures. She left the studio in 1953 and, went on to have a long career in advertising and illustration.
Eric Eden had studied with Frank Hampson in Southport and briefly joined the Dan Dare team in 1950. After a spell in advertising he returned to the strip in 1955, where he specialised in airbrush art and in the large space craft which populated the strip. Eric also scripted many of Dan's adventures before he left Eagle to draw for TV21. He died at his home in Shropshire in 1983, aged only 59.
Don Harley joined the Dan Dare team in late 1951 after Frank Hampson had given a lecture at the art school where he was studying. Don is credited with being the backbone of the team during Frank Hampsons periods of illness, and was dubbed "The second best Dan Dare artist" by Frank himself. Don Harley worked on Dan Dare until Keith Watson took over as sole artist in 1962. His last Dan Dare work involved drawing panels to hide the Eagle logo in the Dragons Dream reprints in 1979.
Bruce Cornwell was one of the original members of the team, leaving in 1953. He returned in 1960 when he shared the strip with Don Harley until Keith Watson took over the strip in 1962.
Desmond Walduck joined the team early on. In September 1953 he took over the major task of creating the finished artwork from visuals supplied by other members of the Dan Dare team. He continued in this task until May 1955. The picture shown was from his last Dan Dare page, when he drew himself in as a press photographer.
Frank Bellamy had been illustrating strip cartoons for 4 years, having worked on Mickey Mouse Weekly and Swift before he joined Eagle in 1957. After working as part of the Hampson team, he was chosen to take over the strip in 1960 when Frank Hampson left. Feeling reluctant to make changes to another persons creation, he agreed to illustrate Dan Dare for only one year. In that year he produced some astounding artwork, bringing a sense of action and drama to the work. After his stint on Dan Dare he went on to draw other strips for Eagle as well as other comic strip work, including illustrating Doctor Who for the Radio Times. In 1971 he took over the popular Garth strip in the Daily Mirror newspaper. in 1976 Frank Bellamy died suddenly of a heart attack.
Keith Watson first applied for a job on Dan Dare in 1957 by sending a spoof Dan Dare strip, entitled "The Mystery of the Desparate Artist" to Frank Hampson, who was so impressed that he was employed on the strength of the work. He remained with the Dan Dare team until 1960 when he left to illustrate Captain Condor for the Lion comic. Keith returned in 1962 to illustrate Dan Dare single handed. This period saw a return to many of the original Space Fleet designs which had changed during Frank Bellamy's time on the strip. Keith Watson left the strip in 1966 when new stories gave way to reprints. In 1989 when the original Dan Dare returned to Eagle, it was Keith Watson that was chosen to illustrate the first adventure. Although pressure of work prevented him from continuing the strip on a full time basis, he went on to illustrate a number of the original Dan's adventures in the new Eagle. Sadly, Keith Watson died from cancer on 9 April 1994 aged 58.
Some examples of his work:-The Mekon, Xel- one of Keith's own creations.
About his time with Eppo comic (in Dutch).
Gerry Embleton was the artist chosen to illustrate Dan Dare in the new Eagle of 1982. He had come from a background of comic book illustration, having drawn for, amongst other things, the original Eagle. He had also made a name for himself with military and historical illustrations. Gerry was only able to illustrate Eagle for a few weeks, but the Dan Dare he brought to Eagle (the great, great grandson of the original) was to prove a good platform for the artists that succeded him.
Ian Kennedy took over the strip in mid 1982 and injected the artwork with his highly precise artwork and dramatic action pictures. Ian had been illustrating comics for many years when he joined Eagle. His first job had been with Scottish comic publisher, D.C. Thompson at the age of 14, back in the late 1940's. Ian Kennedy remained with the strip until 1985.
Carlos Cruz began his stint without the benefit of full colour photogravure that his predecessor, Ian Kennedy had had at the beginning of his stint on the strip. Nevertheless Carlos Cruz managed to fit into the strip with much aplomb. His first story was drawn during a rest from the strip by Ian Kennedy in june '84, he took over the strip permanently in spring 1985. Carlos had been illustrating comics since 1949 with the Argentinian Editorial Abril. After his return to his native Spain in 1963 he worked for many publications at home and abroad. He left the Dan Dare strip in 1988 and the strip was taken up by a number of artists, notably John Gillat.
David Pugh joined Eagle after the return of the original Dan Dare in 1989 and worked on alternate stories until Eagle became a monthly publication, when he took over full time. David Pugh lives in Wales and give his pastimes as walking the Ystradfellte waterfalls and travelling the World.
Sydney Jordan is the artist chosen to illustrate the new Dan Dare strip in the Planet on Sunday newspaper, this strip sees a return of the original Dan, although apparently set some time after the adventures in Eagle. The 68 year old self-taught artist is also writing the story and is collaborating on both story and artwork with Theyen Rich. Sydney Jordan's first experience of comic strip work was with Glasgow newspapers, before he moved to London to work on the successful Jeff Hawke strip in the Daily Express - a strip which endured for 20 years. More recently Jordan has worked in Los Angeles, storyboarding science fiction films. He admits that taking on Frank Hampson's hero will be a challenge but he is aiming to keep Dan Dare's unique character, which he sums up as "... a cross between Biggles in Space and a Boy Scout". Unfortunately the newspaper only lasted one issue - whether there is any future for the Dan Dare strip they commissioned is not known.
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