GENEOLOGY OF A SPACE PILOT
How Dan Dare evolved from an East End parson, to a flying padre, to the 'Parson of the Fighting Seventh' to 'Pilot of the Future'.
On Sunday 13th February 1949, the Sunday Despatch (long defunct) published an article by Marcus Morris titled 'Comics that bring Horror to the Nursery'. It was a broadside against violence and perverted sex in comics, and a plea for someone to devise a comic featuring characters boys could profitably admire. When readers urged Marcus to create such a comic himself, he began 'thinking hopefully along the lines of a strip cartoon'.
And so he wrote, and Frank Hampson drew, a strip called 'Lex Christian' - meant not for children, but adults. They couldn't sell it as it was, and their publisher died before they could improve it. However Marcus claimed that Lex, a 'tough fighting parson in the East End of London' 'went quite a long way towards evolving the character of Dan Dare'.
Unperturbed they'd not launched the strip, from May 1949 they worked to create a complete comic. Lex became a flying padre, 'the Parson of the Fighting Seventh'. That still didn't seem right, so Marcus suggested he should journey into space. They then felt the name Lex Christian seemed less than perfect. Frank Hampson had dreamed of writing about a woman detective Dorothy Dare, so the padre became Dan Dare, 'first parson to be launched in space'.
Of course he wasn't. A click on the EAGLE icon below will take you to episode two of Dan Dare. Gone is the dog collar to be replaced by a colonel/pilot's insignia. As an officer Dan also gets a batman. It isn't recorded why the chaplain was discarded but it's likely the sensible men at Hulton Press finally persuaded Marcus that one religious character (St. Paul) in Eagle was enough. Hampson and Morris also produced a third dummy which is currently lost, but since dummy No.2 only resurfaced in Spring 2008, it may one day reappear.