01/08/2009. Contributed by Geoff Willmetts
pub: Spaceship Away. Rod Barzilay, 8 Marley Close, Preston, Weymouth, Dorset DT3 6DH, UK. 44 page A4 glossy stock magazines. Price: £ 6.99 (UK), 9.00 euro, £10.00 (overseas). On subscription or wanting to get back issues, buy 6 and the 7th is for free!
check out website: http://spaceshipaway.org.uk
The second of three offerings of 'Spaceship Away' this year for all you Dan Dare fans out there and you could hardly mistake what's on the cover as the Kingfisher, Dan's first spaceship. Mind you, according to Keith Page's 'Rocket Pilot' in Dare's formative years, he wasn't its first pilot but a Commander John Crane who intends to take it to Venus. Whether he gets that far will have to wait for the next issue.
The one thing that can be said for 'Spaceship Away' is that it is always bakewell tart-packed with comicstrip stories and nary an advert. Well, all right, a very tiny one but that's only for a binder for you to put your issues in.
The 'Green Nemesis' story written by Rod Barzilay and illustrated by Tim Booth tends to suffer with trying to get too much in this time around. I can't really avoid criticising when poor Dan's face seems to be swimming in word balloons when it would have be a lot easier to have put at least one of the balloons in the previous panel to balance things out. With so many stories reaching into the fight back against the angry aliens as well, it's too easy to draw guns and fire. Even in Dan Dare's heyday this always tended to be a practice of last resort with a little more intelligent thinking to beat the enemy considered first. Mind you, try telling the enemy that sometime.
'The Ex Astris' storyline is moving along although, like 'Green Nemesis' ends in a dogfight more akin to a computer game. Nice art though.
Better is Charles Chilton's 'Journey Into Space' story with its civil war in progress. As Chilton is using his radio series turned comicstrip continuity, it still uses its 50s roots. His flair for explosive larger panels when needed is a demonstration of story pace not panels-to-page.
If you're after more square-jawed tales, then look to 'Nick Hazard, Interstellar Agent' by writers Phillip Harbottle and John Lawrence and illustrated by Don Turner with John Ridgeway colouring for that. In some respects, some of the things propelling this story along now are a little too convenient although nothing is safe with the interplanetary war taking place. Forgive me for not divulging plot details with any of the stories here simply because I'd be entering spoiler hell for some of you folk.
For those who didn't like seeing the bare midriffs of the girls from Iain McClumpha's 'Space Girls', you'd probably be relieved that he's decided to move on. Saying that, it'll be interesting to see the reaction in the next issue's letter pages about Professor Joselyn Peabody nearly getting down into her undies in front of everyone as she changes from her spacesuit in the second Dan Dare story 'The Garden Of Eden' by Tim Booth. I suspect the outrage of this is that we'll never see her as a centrefold pin-up. About the only one leering with a camera in one eye is a Treen. Even so, Booth's artwork is beautifully done with a large cast of characters that don't appear to get in the way of each other.
For the archivists amongst you, there's an interview with artist Bruce Cornwell about his time serving under Frank Hampson's control at the Bakery studio. As much as Hampson's work is admired, he was a perfectionist with all that entailed and it's understandable why Cornwell decided not to put up with it and leave. Working all hours, especially when exhausted, isn't the way to illustrate any comicbook then or now.
Sorry if I'm pointing out more bits and bobs then telling you more about the stories. In many respects, it is a lot easier to read them a bunch at a time. With so much continuation, I suspect those of you who get a taste for the contents will be buying up the back issues. These's detailed explanations of where the stories are so far but just relying on that alone would ensure you missing so much that has happened in previous issues. Don't miss it.
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