Dan Dare, Pilot of the Future, Space Fleet Operations Manual

B1827

Into the grey world of National Socialist Britain came a colourful weekly comic paper, The Eagle, the first issue published on 14th April 1950. Every Wednesday a generation of children eagerly opened the latest edition of this comic weekly. Brainchild of parish vicar Marcus Morris, this new publication was ground breaking. Roughly half of the pages were printed in full colour at a time when most publications aimed at any audience were almost entirely printed in a single colour.

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NAME: Dan Dare, Pilot of the Future, Space Fleet Operations Manual
CLASSIFICATION: Book Reviews
FILE: R1827
DATE: 280513
AUTHOR: Rod Barzilay, illustrator Graham Bleathman
PUBLISHER: Haynes
BINDING: hard back
PAGES: 126
PRICE: £16.99
GENRE: Fiction
SUBJECT: comic books, sci-fi, eductation, Eagle, space, aliens, The Anastasia, Tempus Frangit, Nimbus, Interplanet Space Fleet craft
ISBN: 978-0-85733-286-8
IMAGE: B1827.jpg
BUYNOW: http://tinyurl.com/mrhu9qt
LINKS:
DESCRIPTION: The publisher produced an innovative series of heavily illustrated books, using the broad format followed by their world famous vehicle Owners’ Workshop Manuals. As the series developed, some manuals broke new ground because the subjects did not lend themselves to the practical engineering approach. This new manual is one of those special adaptations of the basic manual principles.

Into the grey world of National Socialist Britain came a colourful weekly comic paper, The Eagle, the first issue published on 14th April 1950. Every Wednesday a generation of children eagerly opened the latest edition of this comic weekly. Brainchild of parish vicar Marcus Morris, this new publication was ground breaking. Roughly half of the pages were printed in full colour at a time when most publications aimed at any audience were almost entirely printed in a single colour.

As a children’s weekly comic, it was greatly enjoyed and set new standards of quality in the sharp detail of the illustrations. It followed the American comics in as much as it used a comic strip of illustrative frames with bubble language and was written in words that matched the primary age range it targeted. Where it differed, it did not devote its pages to “super heroes”, but concentrated on blending science reality, science probability and science fiction. It was in many ways an adult publication written for children and it was a social statement.

The lead story was Dan Dare, Pilot of the Future. Each issue also included a double page cut away drawing of a warship or some similar current engineering achievement. These drawings were very accurate, detailed, and in full colour.

The Dan Dare story series was imaginative, but was also grounded in recent and current reality. The story was set only 45 years into the future and Dan Dare wore a uniform modelled on the RAF uniform. As for other sci-fi writers, the creators of Dan Dare had to build a complete environment with aliens and technology. Little more than five years since the Germans had targeted London with ballistic missiles, the Dan Dare stories combined existing rocket shapes and technology with new technology concepts that were being considered for space travel. As the Eagle became established, hope was returning to Britain but the legacy of Atlee’s National Socialist Government was a continuation of rationing, large areas of major cities still bomb sites, and an overwhelming greyness that demonstrated just how rapidly a nation can be suppressed as social engineers attempt to distribute wealth so that everyone is poor. That made the basic Dan Dare scenario of a world in famine, looking out to space to find new worlds to populate.

This new Haynes Manual has reviewed all of the key elements of the Dan Dare environment. The aliens are interestingly humanoid. Dan Dare’s enduring enemies, the Mekon and the Treens were evolved from reptiles, but all of the other aliens are remarkably human in appearance. The space ships and weapons are created in fine detail, as were the colonies, buildings and space stations. The stories were all the more believable and many of the technologies described eventually became reality, some are becoming practical and others have yet to become reality.

The educational value of the Eagle cannot be underplayed. It helped to encourage children to read and to think in practical engineering terms, making this a natural subject for the Haynes Manual treatment. In many respects, the comic paper provided a more valuable encouragement for children to learn and imagine than the current electronic systems sold to a similar age range. Some of those who avidly read the Eagle were later to join the space industry and some became astronauts. As this manual shows, the Eagle and Dan Dare were views into British society and aspirations during the 1950s.

This book is fun and will interest many for many different reasons. The high quality of the illustration makes this particularly fascinating.

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