The imminent arrival of Virgin Comics' new Dan Dare monthly continues to excite journalists in the national press, as this recent article in The Independent shows. All good publicity for the new comic, but I'm yet to see a national newspaper or tv feature mention the fact that Dan Dare has been around in brand new adventures for the past five years!
Proof of this is the latest issue of Spaceship Away which thudded through my letterbox this morning. Produced under official license from the Dan Dare Corporation it contains new Dan Dare stories produced by several artists, one of which being Don Harley, one of the original illustrators on the strip when it was in Eagle back in the 1950s. If that isn't a respectable pedigree to classify the Spaceship Away strips as "proper" Dan Dare then I don't know what is. (Admittedly the current issue only features one page drawn by Don, as he had other commitments, but he has produced several pages for previous issues. Besides, the replacement artist, Tim Booth, does a meticulous job of getting it right. This is indeed classic Dan Dare.)
Spaceship Away doesn't have the mega-bucks of Richard Branson's Virgin empire behind it. The thrice-yearly comic magazine is published by lifelong Dan Dare fan Rod Barzilay and after shelling out a license fee to the Dan Dare Corporation and a print bill for the luxurious glossy printing (plus other costs) I doubt it breaks even. Under the circumstances you'd think the Dan Dare Corporation might give Spaceship Away a plug when they're interviewed for the national media, (after all, this is a mag that has kept their property alive for several years) but if they do give it a mention it doesn't seem to make it into print.
Therefore expect to see more media gushing over the "return" of Dan Dare throughout this month, with journalists not bothering to shatter the myth by mentioning Spaceship Away. Most media articles on the Virgin comic so far haven't even mentioned that Dan Dare will only be available in the UK in comic shops or subscription.... just the same availability as Spaceship Away in other words.
Speaking of which, subscriptions to Spaceship Away are available from their official website:
Ignored by the national press and unfortunately not likely to excite superhero fanboys, Spaceship Away needs all the support it can get. It definitely deserves it. With 44 full colour pages every issue and professional quality artwork, the comic magazine should be essential reading for anyone who claims to miss the heyday of the traditional UK adventure comic.
My blog regarding the previous issue, which came out in July, can be read here.