Dan Dare, Space Pilot of the Past, Present and Future

This is not an "official" Dan Dare site. It will provide commentary on Dan Dare, as published in Eagle comic and perhaps the television series.

In the new TV series, the theme song is performed by Elton John, and written by Elton John and Bernie Taupin, which is probably enough reason in itself to watch the show. The producers were wise enough to retain the "WW2 fighter pilot" persona for Dan Dare, and the series has a fifties sci-fi atmosphere without being outdated. I think that if a second series is made, Dan's facial features should be made more like they were in Eagle comic. After all, Dan's face was his logo. I also think that Sondar the Treen should be more than Dan's monosyllabic, brutal flunkey. In the original stories, Sondar became governor of Mekonta, and was the brilliant designer of Dan's favourite spacecraft, the Anastasia.

Dan Dare - The Future is Now

Dan Dare, Pilot of the Future, first appeared in Eagle on April 14th, 1950. One of the satisfying things about living in the 21st century is that I am living in that future. In fact, as far as some of his greatest adventures are concerned, Dan Dare could be called "Pilot of the Fairly Recent Past".

According to a short biography that appeared in the Dan Dare annual published in 1973, Dan was born in 1967, in Manchester. In 1984, he went up to Trinity College, Cambridge, where he studied mathematics and astrophysics. He would have been in bright company, as this one college has produced more Nobel Prize winners than the whole of France. In 1985, he led the Cambridge crew to victory against Oxford in the boat race. (If you check the newspapers for that year, you will probably find that they got their facts wrong yet again. That's newspapers for you. It's okay, though, as Dan Dare is the epitome of British modesty and self-effacing understatement. Of course, these qualities disappeared in every other Englishman decades ago.) After graduation, Dan crossed the pond to Cambridge, Massachusetts, and did research at Harvard University.

Dan joined the Interplanetary Space Fleet in 1987. he reached the rank of Pilot Major at the age of 24, which would have been no later than 1992. In the Eagle annual published in 1961, the story entitled "Moon Run" appeared. This "prequel" is the adventure in which Dan met his batman, Albert Fitzwilliam Digby. (Question : Why does Dan always call his bosom companion by his last name. Answer : As a public schoolboy, Dan would know that it is familiar and disrespectful to address people by their first names, unless they are titled. Gentlemen do not insult their subordinates by addressing them by their first names. Besides, as an officer and gentleman, Dan Dare is not allowed to fraternise with the ranks, however closely bonded they become during their adventures.) In the story "Moon Run", Dan is still a captain, so his first recorded space adventure took place no later than 1992, and probably before 1991.

The great Venusian adventure took place in 1995 and 1996. Shortly after landing on Venus, Digby carved a message on a rock face, dated August 23rd, 1995 (Eagle June 16th, 1950). The front page of Eagle for Friday September 29th, 1950, became the front page of the Daily World Post for Monday September 28th, 1995. (Incidentally, the page contained a little private joke of Frank Hampson's. He and Eagle's editor, the Rev. Marcus Morris, admired the magazine Lilliput. The "1995" Eagle advert had as a subtitle "incorporating Lilliput". The adventure concluded when Earth's expeditionary force, led by Commandant Bunche, finally occupied Mekonta on July 7th, 1996 (Eagle September 14th and 21st, 1951).

The South West Africa Mounted Police are mentioned, so Commandant Bunche is probably Namibian and certainly black. [Note: In retrospect, I think that Commandant Bunche is unlikely to be Namibian. His name was almost certainly inspired by Dr Ralph J Bunche, the African American peace negotiator who received a Nobel Prize in 1950.] Eagle thus predicted the end of officially sanctioned racism. This was not at all an obvious detail in 1950, when racism was legal in the United States, Apartheid had recently been officially introduced in South Africa, and the European powers still clung firmly to their African colonies.

It appears that the three years following the Venusian expedition were relatively uneventful by Dan Dare's standards. The next recorded adventure, entitled "The Red Moon", began in Eagle on October 5th, 1951. It featured a letter dated September 30th, 1999.

Albert Fitzwilliam Digby

Digby's history goes back further than Dan's, but his white hair is probably more a result of the stress of family life than age. The Mekon forced him to record a message to earth, saying how well he was being treated. Digby compared the experience to a holiday that he had enjoyed in Sunnymouth on May Day. His wily Aunt Anastasia produced a newspaper cutting in which it was reported that Digby had spent his Sunnymouth holiday in police custody, because of his resemblance to a notorious murderer. It was deduced that Digby's "May Day" was the traditional distress signal, used because it sounds like the French for "help me". The report was dated October 27th 1978, and mentioned that Digby was eighteen at the time.

Sir Hubert Guest

Sir Hubert's history goes back even further. In a "Who's Who" created by Frank Hampson, Dan Dare's original writer and artist, Sir Hubert's year of birth is given as 1943. He accompanied the first manned expedition to the moon (although, of course, the Americans got all of the credit). Sir Hubert's age shows that Frank Hampson seemed to have a gift of chronological prophecy superior to that of Nostradamus, at least with regard to mankind's technological advancement. In this, he was aided by Arthur C. Clarke, Eagle's scientific consultant.

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