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on 20 December 2010
If you already know anything about the history of the creation of the Eagle comic, you'll find this book a very mixed bag. It's enjoyable enough, but decidedly a flawed product. For a start, there's no new information here about Marcus Morris, Frank Hampson or the history of the Eagle. There are some perfunctory interviews with "big-name fans", but does anyone much care that Tim Rice, Terry Jones and others used to read the Eagle, even in this celebrity-obsessed age? They don't have many particularly interesting insights to share about what Eagle brought to the lives of children in the 50s - it's not news to hear that it was perceived as a bit "worthy" and middle-class. There are some glaring omissions in the book: in particular, there's no mention whatsoever of the rollicking 3D animated series seen on British TV just a few years ago (an omission that's all the more puzzling because the book is copyrighted by the people behind the Dan Dare Corporation, which produced that series and I believe still owns the rights to Dan Dare). This means the book falls far short of a definitive "biography" (or even history) of the character. Finally, the book's production quality is disappointing: it's littered with typographical and subbing errors (one especially glaring one on the very first page), and although there are some excellent pictures, there aren't anywhere near enough of them and they're printed too small to do them justice. (Who on earth decided that a small book printed on pulp paper and filled with text, like an everyday hardback novel in size and quality, with only a few tipped-in glossy pages of pictures, was the appropriate format for a book about Dan Dare and Eagle? If ever a subject cried out for large, glossy and colourful treatment, this is it!) For anyone with some knowledge of the story of the development of Eagle, the evolution of Dan Dare and the rise and fall of the Hampson studio, the pictures are the best thing about this book: there are some gorgeous preliminary designs and sketches of spacecraft and vehicles and suchlike, which I don't remember seeing before. However, the best of these (possibly all of them?) are now online at the Guardian website, and frankly viewing them there is a more satisfying experience. You won't be bitterly disappointed by the book, and at the price it's not an awful gift for Dads and Grandads who might enjoy a slice of nostalgia, but if you're a Dan Dare enthusiast, a student of the history of British comics, or interested in popular culture of the 1950s and 60s, you'll probably be left wanting something more substantial.
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on 26 November 2010
This is an account of how Eagle was set up and developed rather than a biography of Dan Dare. It is interesting for its account of the careers of Marcus Morris and Frank Hampson. As we all know Dan Dare was crucial to the early success of Eagle and with the departure of his creator, Eagle began to decline. It is an interesting read and I learnt a lot I did not know but I found the title misleading.
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on 5 January 2011
This, the latest Dan Dare book is a great companion to the Eagle reprints. As it is newly published it is more up to date than any other book on the subject and contains recent information and material which has just come to light.In particular the second dummy cover of the Eagle (shown in full colour) which Frank Hampson produced for Marcus Morris to try and find a publisher for the paper. The book is very detailed, with interviews with the poeple who shaped Dan Dare and the Eagle. Lots of full colour illustrations and information. Some facts I did'nt know like the name of the typeface used on the Eagle masthead, the origin of the name 'Mekon' and who thought up the name 'Treens'. A great read for Dan Dare fans which could lead those who have 'nt read the other two highly recommended books on the subject: The Man Who Draw Tomorrow by Alastair Compton and The Dan Dare Dossior published by Hawk Books. Daniel Tatarsky has done his research very well.
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on 25 January 2011
This book is readable and paints a fair picture of Marcus Morris's early life, filling in background detail that I was not previously aware of (I admit to starting at a disadvantage, as I haven't read many of the other Dare-related biogs, so I'm not sure what is new and what has been covered before); and of the working methods used by Frank Hampson and those in his studio - as much as possible, you "feel as though you are there" (now, as opposed to 55-60 years ago when the events covered actually took place).

Perhaps unlike the majority of readers, I was never one of the hordes of Dare/Eagle fans (in retrospect, my main complaint is that Eagle was for boys only - making the Rainbow, Playhour, Beano, Topper, Beezer et al more suitable papers. I once went to a 'Holiday Playtime' at Lowestoft circa 1961 and sat with the 'Swift' readers - it was suggested that I, at age 10 or 11, should move to the Eagle section! Equally incidentally, I'm puzzled that a web search for Holiday Playtime reveals nothing, as related to Hulton); however, I enjoy biogs of comic creators and have been sufficiently impressed by Hampson's achievements to pick this up in York as Xmas holiday reading.

One of my problems with books of this type is that you can almost see the author thumbing through the stories in chronological sequence, although this is unavoidable for anyone attempting a thorough job. Some of the whimsical added comments, particularly in the chapter about merchandised products, were a little reminiscent of fan literature.

This book has helped me to crystalise an opinion that, in retrospect, while I appreciated Frank Bellamy for almost everything else, I don't feel that Dare was his forte; Hampson is the definitive Dare creator. Also, I don't agree with the author's feeling that Eagle more or less 'created' the personal-relationship-with-the-reader atmosphere, as EC and others were doing this around the same time.

I didn't see any reference to Dawn O'Dare, a spin-off in the ill-fated Ally Sloper magazine, which - for me - illustrated a reluctance by Frank H to break away from the core idea. Overall, though, my first para above sums up my overall feeling.
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 29 January 2013
Daniel Tatarsky has approached this book from the position that Eagle was Dan Dare was the Eagle, and for many of us that was pretty well the truth. So he hasn't separated the history of the comic from the history of the Dan Dare stories: that is the major criticism.

Having said that, I really enjoyed reading this book, because I was an Eagle fan and this brings back so many memories. If it had been called 'Dan Dare and the Eagle' all the criticism would evaporate.

Tatarsky is right: for me, Dan Dare was the the most important story in the Eagle, and everything else was a bonus. This book supplies a welath of information as to why Dan Dare turned out to be, well, Dan Dare in the context of a comic that was designed to be best-of-breed.

The colour plates are very good and, having read the text, I expect readers to return periodically to the pictures. The synopses of the stories themselves are more detailed than in other publications I have seen.

When this book concentrates on its title-subject, it does a very good job at explaining the attention to detail that was the characteristic of these strips, especially the early ones drawn by Frank Hampson. There was so much in the pictures that added to the stories themselves, and this enabled the Dan Dare series to be commonly recognised as illustrated story telling at its best. I remember, as a boy, looking at them with a sense of admiration that there was so much more in there than just the dialogue.

This book also reminds us that the week-long wait for the next issue generated a sense of excitement and expectancy that is not replicated when one reads the stories from start to finish in a single sitting. And it is also very strong on explaining why and how Dan Dare was positioned as a 'role model' character.

For people who want Dan Dare and specifically Dan Dare, I recommend the Hawk book 'Dan Dare Dossier' (if you can get it) which is much more tightly focussed on its title than this one. But this a very good book for reminding us why the Eagle and Dan Dare were so important to a generation of boys in the days before computer games and TV soaps.

A little flawed, but enjoyable none the less. Four stars.
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on 30 November 2013
I asked for this book as a Christmas present, but having received it I was disappointed to find that it was purely a history of the comic strip and its creators. Perhaps foolishly, I had hoped for something about Dan Dare himself - even a biography invented after the fact would have been more satisfying. That said, there are lots of good colour illustrations, showing for instance the different styles of Frank Hampson, Frank Bellamy, Don Harley and Keith Watson. To a reader who was dazzled, as a 7-year-old, by Dan Dare's fantastic exploits and the golden future of space exploration so convincingly depicted by the strip, it's a sad come-down to learn about all the arguments, the bad working conditions and long hours, and finally the squalid commercial miscalculations that brought it all tumbling down. The author seems to overestimate the technical credentials and inventiveness of Hampson and his colleagues, crediting them with ideas that mainstream science fiction authors had been using regularly for decades previously. What "Dan Dare" did was to present those ideas to a whole generation of schoolchildren in such concrete, colourful and familiar form that they seemed perfectly real. The sad tale of how such a work of genius came undone so quickly seems uncannily parallel to the downfall of the British aerospace industry in reality - see, for example, Empire of the Clouds: When Britain's Aircraft Ruled the World. But it's a great nostalgia trip all the same!
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on 9 December 2013
This book is a great history of the Dan Dare story. Particularly interesting to me is the comparison between the 4 different artists and the effect they had on the storyline. I had never appreciated that so many characters disappeared from the stories never to re-appear - even the most important and fundamental characters. I would recommend this book only to those who, like me, are addicts or at least genuinely interested in the history of Dan Dare - but who else is likely to be buying this book!
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on 26 February 2011
This is a very handy sized book with a concise history Of Commander Dare. Although it brings together farly well known information into one volume there are still a number of facts that I did not know so a useful book for die-hard followers as well as new fans. The many pictures [coloured and glossy] are excellent. Recommended!
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on 11 December 2010
I would highly recommend this book.I have purchased other
books by Daniel and I love his easy read to style.He gives the reader
a nice balance of nostaglia and facts and informtion. I wasnt born when
Eagle was launched but the author gives the reader a real feel of
the occasion and times.

With lovely glossy illustations of Eagle and Dan Dare, this would make the ideal
present for anyone remotely interested in comics.

I have only one gripe, I would have called the book "The story of Eagle and Dan Dare"
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on 10 April 2014
The book is well researched and written, some of the ground was covered in the excellent "the Man Who Drew Tomorrow. But the illustrations are excellent with some that I had not seen before. I especially liked the contrast between the styles of the four artists.
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