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Monday, 23 July 2012

Web Page 1062
28th July 2012

First I have had a good response to the publication of the memories booklet so I will go ahead with it and send it to print this week. It will be A5 size with 48 pages and over 50 photographs. It should be ready by next week when I will let you all know the details for obtaining a copy.


Top Picture: Front cover of the Eagle.

Middle Picture: The Dandy.

Bottom Picture: Front cover of the Girl.

The Eagle takes off

Over sixty  years   ago   on   14th April, 1950, a new kind of children's comic for boys came on to the market with a splash of colour, quality and gloss.

It was edited by a Liverpool vicar, the Revd. Marcus Morris and was called the Eagle. This was different from other comics and with its clean-cut contents it soon became the favourite reading with children, their parents, and their teachers alike, and it became the top-selling young people's paper. Marcus Morris edited a parish magazine called The Anvil, but felt that the church was not communicating its message effectively. He was also disillusioned with contemporary children's literature, and with The Anvil artist Frank Hampson created a dummy comic based on Christian values. He hawked the idea to several Fleet Street publishers, with little success, until Hulton Press decided to take it on.
What everyone remembers about the Eagle were the Ashwell Wood's detailed cutaway drawings of ships, planes, and cars, and the superb artwork of Frank Hampson, which brought to life the character we all remember and who is still a cult figure even today, he was Dan Dare, Pilot of the Future.

The paper hit the streets at a time when there was a national bid among worried parents and teachers to stop the import of the American "horror" comics, and it certainly found an instant market and acceptance.

Following a huge publicity campaign, the first issue of the Eagle was released in April 1950. Revolutionary in its presentation and content, it was enormously successful; the first issue sold about 900,000 copies. Many of the children who had bought the first edition found they had to queue for Number 2, as demand had exceeded supply. Many were disappointed, although the publisher very soon rectified the problem by printing more copies.

An Eagle Club was formed and young people were proud to wear their Eagle Club badges, and to work hard for the various awards that were available and a range of related merchandise was licensed for sale.  As the Eagle's popularity increased, the demand for a Christmas Special or Annual grew stronger and stronger and by 7th September 1951, the editor used his regular editorial page to his young readers to break the good news saying, "Many of you have written in during the past year suggesting the Eagle should have an annual of its own," he wrote. "To meet this demand we have had a very exciting annual printed which contains all your favourite regular Eagle characters. All the pages with these characters in them are entirely new, and there are some fine pages which are printed in colour."

At 8/6d (42'/2p) it was an instant success, as were the issues that were to follow in succeeding years. The annual with its bright red cover and the black eagle motif became almost mandatory Christmas reading for boys from eight to eighty. All the favorites were there -Dan Dare and his arch-enemy, the Mekon; Harris Tweed; Luck of the Legion; P.C.49; Jeff Arnold and Luke; and of course pages and pages of factual features. The only thing missing were the short stories, which were put in to the originals by the editor to make the annuals a "worthwhile read."

Amidst a takeover of the comic's publisher and a series of acrimonious disputes, Marcus Morris left in 1959; Frank Hampson followed shortly thereafter. Although the Eagle continued in various forms, a lowering of editorial standards preceded plummeting sales, and it was eventually subsumed by its rival, the Lion in 1969. Howver the Eagle was relaunched in 1982 and ran for over 500 issues, before being dropped permantly by its publisher in 1994.

The Eagle had a terrific influence on many people and it was the launch pad for artists such as Gerald Scarfe and David Hockney who were both first published in the Eagle. Tim Rice also cites the stories printed in the Eagle as helping "me in my story-telling efforts through musicals many years on."[ Professor Stephen Hawking, when asked about the influence Dan Dare had on him, replied: "Why am I in cosmology?" and Kenny Everett chose an Eagle Annual as his book on Desert Island Discs.

Girl was the sister publication to the Eagle and the 'older' sister publication to two other girl based comics the Swift and the Robin. But unfortunately there appears to be very little historic information about the publication. However for a teenage girl growing up in 1950s' Britain, the Girl was as essential reading for the lasses as the Eagle was for the lads. Each week in the Girl there'd be another gripping instalment of Susan of St Brides: Nurse of the Year; advice column 'Mother Tells You How' would provide wise words on how to care for goldfish; 'Concerning You' would reveal how to choose spectacles that suit your face and the Girl picture gallery of lovely paintings to cut out and keep would feature pin-ups of the day such as Humphrey Littleton, Princess Margaret and various garden birds.

In 2006 Carlton Books published The Best of the Girl and described it as a fascinating window on this hilariously wholesome bygone age of fine upstanding virtue for those too young to remember it, and a completely compulsive nostalgia trip for those who aren't.

I naturally never read the Girl and for some unknow reason I could never get on with the Eagle bu I know that there were thousands of boys who read it every week.

Take care



You Write:

Ray Writes:

A little point, if it is of any interest to you. As an adjoiner to your reference of the Air-raid sirens being regularly checked; living in Plymouth we still hear the Warning siren being activated for checking at 1130 every Monday forenoon.  It is sounded from within the Dockyard at Devonport and living very close to that part of the City, I can actually see into the mid. part of the Dockyard from my front bedroom window, and can see a couple of the housings for these sirens  on buildings roofs within the dockyard confines. 

News and Views:

Elvis Presley's crypt was not auctioned after all. The crypt at Forest Hills Cemetery in Memphis where Elvis was entombed-- until his and his mother's bodies were buried at Graceland for security purposes-- was scheduled be auctioned off June 23 and 24. The auction company says it will not auction it "until Forest Hills finds a plan that best suits the interests of the fans while respecting and preserving the memory of Elvis Presley." Fans had objected to the sale. The crypt has remained empty since an ill-fated attempt to steal his body in 1977 forced relocation.

On this day 28th July 1960-1965
On 28/07/1960 the number one single was Good Timin' - Jimmy Jones and the number one album was South Pacific Soundtrack. The top rated TV show was Rawhide (ITV) and the box office smash was Psycho. A pound of today's money was worth £13.68 and Burnley were on the way to becoming the Season's Division 1 champions.

On 28/07/1961 the number one single was Temptation - Everly Brothers and the number one album was South Pacific Soundtrack. The top rated TV show was No Hiding Place (AR) and the box office smash was One Hundred and One Dalmations. A pound of today's money was worth £13.25 and Tottenham Hotspur were on the way to becoming the Season's Division 1 champions.

On 28/07/1962 the number one single was I Can't Stop Loving You - Ray Charles and the number one album was West Side Story Soundtrack. The top rated TV show was Coronation Street (Granada) and the box office smash was Lawrence of Arabia. A pound of today's money was worth £12.89 and Ipswich Town were on the way to becoming the Season's Division 1 champions.

On 28/07/1963 the number one single was Confessin' - Frank Ifield and the number one album was Please Please Me - The Beatles. The top rated TV show was Coronation Street (Granada) and the box office smash was The Great Escape. A pound of today's money was worth £12.64 and Everton were on the way to becoming the Season's Division 1 champions.

On 28/07/1965 the number one single was Mr Tambourine Man - Byrds and the number one album was The Sound of Music Soundtrack. The top rated TV show was Coronation Street (Granada) and the box office smash was The Sound of Music. A pound of today's money was worth £11.69 and Manchester United were on the way to becoming the Season's Division 1 champions.

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