01/01/2009. Contributed by Geoff Willmetts
pub: Spaceship Away. Rod Barzilay, 8 Marley Close, Preston, Weymouth, Dorset DT3 6DH, UK. 36-44 page A4 glossy stock magazines. Price: £ 6.99 (UK), 9.00 euro, £10.00 (overseas) each. On subscription, buy 6 and the 7th is for free.
check out website: http://spaceshipaway.org.uk
Continuing reading the back issues of 'Spaceship Away' has been an enlightening experience and a real nostalgia kick if you're into the Dan Dare stories that were in the 1950s 'Eagle' comicbook. Wisely, publisher/editor Rod Barzilay began the expansion of the basic line across these five issues. To some extent, this was to aid the amount of time it took for the art to be completed and, to my mind, probably stopped your head spinning too much with three successive stories featuring Dan and his chums in simultaneous peril. Whatever the reason, this is the period where the magazine opened up. With so much focus on Dan last time around, I'll give more room to the other contributors this time around.
Starting with # 7, we have 'Journey Into Space' based on the BBC radio series and 'Express Weekly' in comicstrip form by Charles Chilton and Tacconi. Here we follow the adventures of Jet Morgan and his colleagues as their runaway rocket is heading off to Alpha Centauri. If you know you have such a long journey of a couple hundred years, I'm not entirely sure if going easy on the rations will help that much. In typical form, the story moves quickly from one danger to another as they solve the immediate problem.
With # 8, we start the adventures of Hal Starr by Sydney Jordan, a name you should be familiar with as I reviewed the Titan volume release of his 'Jeff Hawke' newspaper strips earlier in the year. With the aid of colourist John Ridgway, Jordan's work is even better using full pages. It's a magnificent story building up from Hal Starr being stranded on the Mars with no hope of rescue to...well, you need to find that out for yourself. Beautifully illustrated, you'll wish more stories were of this quality.
Lest we forget the character who started the magazine, Dan Dare is the star of three continuing series ' Project Pluto', 'Green Nemesis' and 'The Gates Of Eden' and co-star with his future boss, Hubert Guest, in 'Rocket Pilot'. The art standards are high and puts to shame any of the British comicbooks on the shelves today. If you ever wondered whatever happened to the older generation of British comicstrip creators than the output here shows they have lost none of their skill.
Littered into all of this are discussion articles, photos of models of rockets based on the Dan Dare material made by the very talented Martin Bower. I saw some of his other work on display in Bristol a couple decades back and its still a joy to look at here. There's various pin-ups, extensive letter pages with a lot more discussion points and articles showing what original creator Frank Hampton used as the template for his spacerocket designs. Interestingly, he based his space-pilots laying in a prone position from the DFS 228 glider. The modern day micro-gliders still use a similar technique. The spacerockets from the Dan Dare reality are also a lot faster but not sitting upright avoids unnecessary distraction from the people about you. The only exception to this was Dare's own spaceship, the Anastasia, but it wasn't built by humans.
If you want a serious dose of nostalgia to cheer yourself up over the winter months, then you'll really get a kick out of these magazines.
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