1/07/2010. 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), 10.00 euro, £11.00 (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 latest 'Spaceship Away' arrived this week and the second of the year, the next will be out in October, so make a note if you haven't subscribed already.
There's a marvellous double-page spread cover showing Dan Dare and thirty-five of his human and alien companions, not to mention a selection of spaceships painted by Don Hartley to celebrate the astronaut's sixtieth year. It goes to say that the Mekon wasn't invited. Seeing so many distinctive characters together shows how developed the series was, especially as I could name or recognise a lot of them.
Interestingly, two of the stories reach a conclusion this issue. Charles Tilton's 'Journey Into Space' story 'Planet Of Fear' after thirteen episodes finishes surprisingly easy once its discovered they have a thing for blind obedience. The Dan Dare story 'The Gates Of Eden', too, ensuring supplies to Earth are restored. You'll have to read it to see how. All normal things to do for the good colonel.
The first Dan Dare story in the magazine has the Mekon taking the upper hand but at least the colonel knows who's involved now. Whether that will stop the diminutive Venusian, only more episodes will tell.
There are also further coloured pages of the 'Garth' story 'The Bubble Man' and doom is coming to his Earth as well. It's rather interesting seeing Frank Bellamy's art coloured by John Ridgeway, who had done the assignment for a different client originally, because it shows the strength of the original material hadn't been diminished by such a treatment. If anything, it adds to its appeal.
The 'Ex Astris' 'Homecoming' uses more modern computer graphics colouring. The four explorers meet some rather menacing octopod aliens. You'll have forgive the brevity of any plot synopsis simply because it enters spoiler territory.
In case you think the magazine is full of comicstrips, there is also a look at the time when the BBC when to interview Frank Hampson back in 1958 with transcripts of the interview. Even back then, they noted how Hampson's designs weren't too far removed from how the new spacecraft were developing at the time. Plus a look at the late artist Keith Watson and the development of the Dan Dare Fan Club.
Lots to see and with four extra pages should indicate the popularity of 'Spaceship Away' If you have a thing for the 50s astronaut, Dan Dare, and his loyal batman, Digby, then you'll be signing up today.
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