Sunday, 2 May 2010

Dan Dare - Ex Libris Wotanicus

The Eagle comic kind of passed me by as a child, as I missed its heyday by some years. I did manage to run into the beautifully painted artwork in annuals etc and actually lived in the same village which gave birth to Eagle comic and Dan Dare, the little run down shed where he was born is still visible today. However, I did manage to witness Dans frequent resurrections in the 1978 comic 2000ad and also in the New Eagle comic in the late 80's. The new Eagle was an abominable collection of photographic story strips, only just rescued by a illustrated Dan Dare section. Eventually, the editors saw the error of their ways and resorted to standard all comic format, albeit fleshing out the comic with reprinted material. Dans frequent rebirth was a regular occurrence as the comic went from super exotic far future Dan to a more traditional, yet hi-tech version. The artistic chores were handled by a multitude of artists, but one man stood head and shoulders above the rest - Ian Kennedy.
Kennedys work was almost always full colour and technically brilliant - from an art and design standpoint to a mechanical aesthetic one. Almost all his spacecraft and vehicles had a sleek realism to them and a powerful dynamism reminiscent of Embleton or Noble.
I always enjoyed the protracted space battles between Dan, his current choice of whizz bang spaceship and the Treen hordes commanded by the ever malevolent Mekon.

Kennedy appears to have a technical background in aerospace and has illustrated aircraft in other magazines. One particular foray into Dans history showed WW2 planes and later an English Electric Lightning piggy backed on a Lancaster bomber during a test flight. The same strip also showed a Horten flying wing drawn with remarkable accuracy. All Kennedys spaceships are always unusual such as his 'HIMAT' fighters above and the large battle copter and distinctive green enemy fighters. No matter how ridiculous the story became, it was always a joy to see such splendid artwork.


  1. Great art work, it really is such talented and skillful work for such an ephemeral product...true professionals.

    Anyone remember a comic called Countdown?
    I remember getting a free wall chart with one issue, with star maps and loads of space info on it and around the edge, a place to stick pictures that came with it every week .
    I cut the star chars out when I a kid and still have them, wish I had kept the poster whole!

  2. if you look on the Project 21 Archive on the link on the right of the blog, youll find the entire run of countdown, plus specials!

    And ive still got the original 2 part poster from the early issues:

  3. I love the Eagle comic fom the 80s. As you say the Ian Kennedy artwork is superb. After a few years other artists came and went and the quality dropped, the final issue being January 1994 - it had gone monthly since May 1991. It started off with Dan(iel) Dare, Dan's great great grandson. Digby's great great grandson appearing too. After several years of adventures, Dan was killed and resurrected by aliens and became a gun-toting space Marshall. Digby disppeared from the story as Dan roamed the galaxy with a female sidekick -Velvet, and a couple of robots. Finally they brought the original Dan back in new stories. After a short while he started shooting everything in site too. Silly but fun. And of course the Mekon was always there.


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