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Tuesday, 17 August 2010

Yesterday's papers - The Eagle MKII

The Eagle comic was so well regarded and legendary in British comic circles, that there was a second version of the comic launched more than a decade after the original run had ended due to falling sales.

When the relaunched Eagle was first published it was unusual for a boy's comic, in that it contained photo stories. These were common in girl's comics but not so much with publications aimed at boys, and the experiment wasn't a success and photo stories were soon dropped in favour of the more traditional comic book strips.

Dan Dare was, as in the original run of the Eagle, the main character and in the edition pictured above he gets both the front and back cover as well as the full colour centre pages. The rest of the comic being in the more traditional black and white. The artist of the Dan Dare strip was one Oliver Frey who would later do those stunning covers for the likes of Crash Magazine and Fear, and I know he often reads the Archive so hello, Ollie!

One of the joys of looking through old comics is the letters page; these can give a good insight into what issues concerned children back in the day. The page here contained the announcement of the winners in a recent competition - readers had to answer the following question: Who was Kermit's nephew in the Muppets. The answer was Robin and the winner, Kevin Markworth, received a, "Super Taco Microscope", and "Bags of Goodies from KP Foods". KP Foods being the makers of crisps (potato chips) and various varieties of peanuts. Kind of puts the National Lottery to shame that one. 20 runner's up received a animal encyclopaedia which they could read until the internet was invented. Six lucky readers who had sent in photographs of themselves got a postal order for £4 - quite a sum, back in the day.

A favourite strip of mine was One Eyed Jack - Jack was a mean bastard, imagine Dirty Harry if you'd just plopped one of his eyes out, and that's only a fraction of how mean One Eyed Jack was. Now I'm not sure of the character's origins but I'm sure he first appeared in Valiant, and I know he was a character in Battle for a short while. He was written by John Wagner and was very much an early version of Dredger and Judge Dredd which were both characters Wagner had a hand in.

Someone stole my eye. Bastards!

The new Eagle though could not match its illustrious forefather - times had changed and the comics of the Eighties were much tougher than this new Eagle, which kind of sat in some strange middle ground between the innocence of early comics and the grittier style of the times. The new Eagle would go onto fold in 1994 after more than 500 issues. Certainly not a failure by any standards, but it is not as well regarded as the original comic.

Next we look at an issue of Lion which was the comic that the original Eagle merged with before the Eagle name was dropped. This was usual with British comics - when a title started to lose popularity it would be merged with a better seller but only it's most successful strips would survive the transfer. It is interesting that the original Eagle merged with Lion since when Lion started to sag it would merge itself with Tiger. And when Tiger itself started to slump it merged with the MKII Eagle.


bish8 said...

I was a Hostspur kid. Read it from the early '60s to sometime in the mid-'70s. When we immigrated to the USA in 1962, my Nan would wrap up six weeks worth and forward them on. What a treat they were to receive as a batch . . .


Bish - I think I may have a few old Hotspurs - perhaps I'll cover one of these soon.