Dan-Dare.net - The Interactive Home of Dan Dare, Pilot of the Future
This website is intended to provide you with an interactive introduction to "Dan Dare, Pilot of the Future". I have included an illustrated complete Dan Dare history (which you will find a bit further down this page), a large selection of images (mainly on a dedicated images page but also scattered around on all the other pages in this site), plus a comprehensive list of related web links for you to follow should you wish to browse for even more information and images. I have also included a range of fully interactive "fun stuff" (games, jigsaw puzzles, picture puzzles, word puzzles and toys, some with a Dan Dare theme, and some without but which I like anyway and included here because I thought you might like them too) for your further enjoyment. I would recommend that you thoroughly explore this site in order to get the most out of it, as there is a huge amount to discover.
HIGHLIGHTS! Find out all about Dan Dare's evil arch-nemesis The Mekon. HIGHLIGHTS!
Navigating around this site...
There are over 90 pages in this site. You can either use the navigation buttons in the top left-hand corner of this page or the hyper-text links within this page to move around between the main pages of the site, or alternatively there is a standard Site Map and a Java Applet powered Interactive Site Map should you wish to go to any of the sub-pages directly. Please note that when selected, all main pages will appear in this window, while all sub-pages will appear in a maximised pop-up window which is re-used for each sub-page. There is some more site information, including details about me, at the bottom of this page if you are interested.
Click on this link to view the system requirements for running all the interactive "fun stuff" in this site: Technical Notes.
For those of you unfamiliar with Dan Dare, here is a complete history...
The "Dan Dare, Pilot of the Future" science-fiction strip-cartoon series was created by the genius that was Frank Hampson, and it first appeared in issue number one of the weekly British boys' magazine "Eagle" on April 14, 1950. Eagle was founded by the Rev. Marcus Morris (who took on the role of editor) together with Frank Hampson from ideas they had worked on in 1949 and early 1950.
Eagle was much more than just a comic, hence my referring to it as a boys' magazine, since it also contained educational features such as historically accurate strip-cartoons and "cut-away" diagrams of the-then-latest technologies, and it conveyed a fun yet socially responsible attitude throughout its pages (which was not surprising really, given that the editor was a young clergyman at the time). Indeed in the early planning phases of Eagle, Dan Dare was actually "Chaplain Dan Dare of the Interplanet Patrol", such were the Christian ideals of the co-founders. Dan the "Chaplain of the Future" became Dan the "Pilot of the Future" during the final planning stage to ensure a much broader commercial appeal...
The adventures of Colonel Daniel MacGregor Dare of the Interplanet Spacefleet (to give him his full title) appeared on the first two pages of Eagle in full colour every week, and they were devised and illustrated by Frank Hampson with the assistance of his team of hand-picked artists and fellow scriptwriters. Production standards for the series were incredibly high: Frank created a huge reference library of photos, diagrams, illustrations and models to ensure complete consistency and realism; Arthur C. Clarke was a scientific advisor to the team in the early years; Alan Stranks (who had previously created the P.C. 49 radio series, which itself had a strip-cartoon series in Eagle) and the Rev. Chad Varah (who later went on to found The Samaritans) also provided scriptwriting assistance.
The stories presented a consistent and (at the time) scientifically authentic future view of the world and beyond (set in 1996 onwards - then almost 50 years away), with a full supporting cast of characters such as regulars Albert Fitzwilliam Digby (Dan's faithful companion), Sir Hubert Guest (the Interplanet Spacefleet Controller), Professor Jocelyn Peabody (Science Officer), Henry "Hank" Hogan and Pierre Lafayette (Dan's fellow Spacefleet pilots), Commander Lex O'Malley (another of Dan's loyal companions), Spacefleet Cadet "Flamer" Spry, Stripey (Digby's alien pet), Dan's unforgettable evil arch-nemesis The Mekon and his warlike Treens, the peaceful Therons, and a host of other wonderfully realised human and alien characters. Dan even had his own personal spaceship, the "Anastasia" (a picture of which you can see in the main logo at the top of this page).
Dan Dare became the most popular fictional character in British history during the 1950's, helping the Eagle to sell around three-quarters of a million copies each week and with an at-the-time unprecedented amount of merchandise produced (rivalling the likes of, say, Star Wars and Harry Potter in the modern era, in Britain at least). In fact Dan Dare was so popular during the 1950's that he even had his own voice-acted radio show on Radio Luxembourg (television was in its infancy at that time in Britain, and radio was still the number one source of in-home entertainment). Dan Dare and the Eagle were also exported to many countries around the world during this period, with local editions produced in France, Holland, Croatia and Australia to name but a few.
The main reasons for this spectacular popularity were the sheer quality of the story scripting, the brilliant characterisations and the absolutely superb artwork - to this day the 1950's Dan Dare strips are among the very best the world has ever seen. This is not just my opinion either, as Frank Hampson was presented with various awards in his lifetime proclaiming just that fact.
Frank continued to work on the stories until 1959 when he left to move on to other Eagle projects, but despite the loss of its creator the Dan Dare series continued each week in various formats until the Eagle's much-lamented demise in 1969. Some of the other artists that worked on the series during its original run were Harold Johns, Greta Tomlinson, Desmond Walduck, Don Harley, Bruce Cornwell, Frank Bellamy and Keith Watson. In addition to the weekly strip-cartoon stories, there were also strips in each of the yearly Eagle annuals that were produced from 1951 until 1974. (Six of these annual stories are reprinted at Dan-Dare.net's second "sister" site, DanDare.org.uk - click on this link to view the first one: "Funfair of Death".) There were also a number of special Dan Dare annuals and books published during this original era. Among these were "Dan Dare's Spacebook", the Dan Dare pop-up picture book and the "Dan Dare on Mars" novel in the 1950's, "Dan Dare's Space Annual 1963" and the "Dan Dare Annual 1974".
Between April and October 1964 the "People" Sunday newspaper ran a specially-commissioned Dan Dare strip-cartoon series ("Mission to the Stars") that was drawn by Don Harley.
(A curious comic-strip by the name of "Danny Dare" appeared in the weekly comic "Wham!" and its annuals in the mid to late 1960's, about a boy who was always daydreaming of Dan Dare's adventures.)
After the Eagle's demise, reprints of the early 1950's stories appeared in the weekly "Lion" comic (which "absorbed" its one-time rival Eagle in 1969) during the late 60's and early 70's, and there were text stories in a couple of Lion annuals at that time too. However, after the last Eagle annual was published the original version of Dan Dare disappeared from public view for a while.
A new version of Dan Dare appeared in issue number one of the weekly comic "2000AD" in 1977, but this Dan had very little in common with Frank Hampson's original creation (just the name, the trademark jagged eyebrows, and arch-enemy The Mekon to be honest). Massimo Belardinelli and Dave Gibbons were among the artists that illustrated the strip. Although this new Dan also proved very popular for a while, after around two years of intermittent appearances in the comic he faded away never to be seen again, in part due to the growing popularity of 2000AD's most famous original creation "Judge Dredd". The new Dan also appeared in three 2000AD annuals and two Dan Dare spin-off annuals prior to his vanishing forever.
A number of books featuring the original Dan Dare were produced between 1977 and 1981: A novelisation of the first ever story from 1950, three books reprinting "The Man From Nowhere" trilogy of strips from the mid-1950's ("The Man From Nowhere", "Rogue Planet" and "Reign of the Robots" - perhaps the very best Dan Dare stories ever), and a reprint book of some of the 1950's and 60's Eagle annual strips.
In 1982 yet another new version of Dan Dare appeared in issue number one of the re-launched "Eagle" weekly comic, but once again this Dan (and indeed the new Eagle) bore little resemblance to the original, although it was a closer attempt than the 2000AD version. Gerry Embleton, Ian Kennedy, Oliver Frey and Carlos Cruz were among the artists that worked on the series. (The first of these stories is reprinted at Dan-Dare.net's second "sister" site, DanDare.org.uk - click on this link to view it: "Return of The Mekon".) This version proved popular enough to last until 1989 (despite some changes in 1987 that made Dan even less like his original self), appearing every week in the comic and also in the new Eagle annuals (the last of which was produced in 1991). There was also a spin-off Dan Dare annual during this period.
In 1985 a biography of Frank Hampson was published ("The Man Who Drew Tomorrow") which provided a unique insight into the "Hampson" years of Dan Dare and the Eagle. Immensely sadly however, 1985 was also the year of Frank's untimely death due to a heart attack.
In 1987 the original 1950's and 60's strips were reprinted in full in a series of deluxe collectors' volumes published by Hawk Books, and this series continued until 1997 at the rate of more-or-less one volume per year (there were 12 volumes in total). In 1990 to mark Dan's 40th Anniversary, Hawk also published "The Dan Dare Dossier", a collectors' guide to everything "Dan Dare".
In 1989 the original version of Dan Dare returned to the Eagle comic in a new series of strip-cartoon stories, and the first of these was illustrated by one of the original-era artists, Keith Watson. The original Dan continued to appear for around a year in the weekly comic (with an additional appearance in one Eagle annual plus one Dan Dare annual), but then slowly the nature of the strip was changed so that once more another new version of Dan emerged. Then the comic changed to a monthly issue rather than weekly, consisting mainly of reprints, and shortly after (at the end of 1993) Dan and the Eagle comic disappeared completely. Regrettably, to this day there have been no further regular strip-cartoon appearances of any version of Dan Dare.
A short-lived and highly politicised comic-strip version of the original Dan Dare (by Grant Morrison and Rian Hughes, and simply titled "Dare") appeared in 1990 in the monthly magazines Revolver and Crisis. It was subsequently reprinted in book form. Spoof comic-strip versions paying homage to the original Dan have appeared over the years, such as Private Eye's "Dan Dire" and Oink's "Ham Dare, Pig of the Future" in the 1980's, and The Times' "Dan Blair, Pilot for the Foreseeable Future" in the late 1990's. The original Dan starred in a series of three computer games in the late 1980's and early 90's for the Commodore, Sinclair, Amstrad and Atari home computer systems, and he was also the star of a series of three live-action TV adverts for Mobil Oil in 1987. There was also a four-part BBC Radio 4 serial in 1990 based on the very first Dan Dare story from 1950.
In 1996 a newly-launched Sunday newspaper ("The Planet on Sunday") ran a new strip-cartoon version of Dan Dare, illustrated by Sidney Jordan (the artist that for around 20 years, from the 1950's to the 1970's, drew the "Express" newspaper's "Jeff Hawke" science-fiction strip-cartoon series), but sadly the paper only lasted for one issue and thus the story was never completed.
In 2002 after many years of speculation and false-starts (including two abortive attempts at making a live-action TV series, first in 1981 and then again in 1991), Dan Dare appeared for the first time ever in his very own TV series, which was shown on Saturday mornings on Channel 5 in Britain. The computer-generated animated series presented a Dan (together with his full supporting cast) that was essentially a hybrid of all the various versions that have appeared over the years, not quite true to any of them, but not quite another new version either.
The series was produced by Foundation Imaging (who had previously worked on the "Starship Trooper Chronicles" and "Max Steel" series) at a cost of around £14m over a period of 16 months. There were 13 stories in all, split into two parts across 26 weekly episodes of around 22 minutes duration each. Some of the stories drew heavily on the 1950's version for story ideas, whilst others had original (and often slightly bizarre) story lines. The series was repeated on Channel 5 immediately after its initial run, such was its popularity. It was also shown throughout Europe, the U.S.A. and South America, proving to be very popular there too, and a "best of the series" double DVD and VHS set was subsequently released world-wide.
In 2003 a new four-monthly Dan Dare fan-produced magazine, "Spaceship Away", was launched. It's main feature was an entirely new Dan Dare strip-cartoon story illustrated in the style of the original 1950's era stories by two of that era's Dan Dare artists: Don Harley and (the now sadly late) Keith Watson. The magazine continues to run new "classic style" Dan Dare stories every issue and it is an exceptionally high-quality publication, due in no small part to the fact that it is produced by genuinely appreciative fans of Frank Hampson's original 1950 creation.
In 2004 a new Dan Dare book was released, published by Titan Books. It was part one of a two-part reprint of the first ever Dan Dare story from 1950, and more volumes reprinting the rest of the original 1950's and 60's strips have since been released. This series of books is intended to continue until all the original strips have been covered (similar in concept therefore to the Hawk Books series from 1987 to 1997).
In the March 2005 edition of the adult comic Viz there was a spoof story by the name of "Nan Dare", and it is reprinted at Dan-Dare.net's second "sister" site, DanDare.org.uk - click on this link to view it (it is family-friendly despite its origin): "Nan Dare".
Between November 2007 and July 2008 Virgin Comics produced a seven-part Dan Dare comic-book series that was written by Garth Ennis and illustrated by Gary Erskine. In this (yet another different) version of Dan Dare, the Interplanet Spacefleet has collapsed, along with the UN, due to a nuclear war between China and the USA; Britain survived due to defensive shields made by Professor Peabody, and has become a world power again as a result. The Royal Navy has taken over Spacefleet's role. Peabody is the Home Secretary to a British Prime Minister modelled on Tony Blair, who has sold Earth's defences out to The Mekon through fear. Despite the differences with Frank Hampson's original version of Dan Dare, this series did remain reasonably faithful to the original in terms of spirit, and it proved to be very popular due to the excellent artwork and storyline.
And that's it, you are now completely up-to-date with the history of the Dan Dare saga. For more information on all aspects of Dan, please go to my Links page and follow the Dan Dare trail - as well as containing a comprehensive set of web links, the page also includes details of how to obtain copies of two different, high-quality, fan-produced Dan Dare and Eagle magazines. Don't forget to check out my Images and "Fun Stuff" pages too... Oh, and last but not least, Dan-Dare.net has two "sister" sites which you might also like to fully explore: Dan-Dare.org (which contains many Dan Dare original artwork scans and animated GIFs, plus hundreds of Flash games), and: DanDare.org.uk (which contains some complete story reprints, a complete listing of the weekly adventures of Dan Dare and The Mekon that appeared in the 1950's and 60's "Eagle", plus details of all the other weekly stories they starred in).
Thank you for visiting,
(September 13, 2013 at 11.10pm.)
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