THE DAN DARE STYLE GUIDES

    Mercurians didn't appear until May 1952 when Harold Johns and Greta Tomlinson took over the strip. Possibly the style guide was created to help them, at around this time.

Frank Hampson wrote: ‘When it comes to creating Dan Dare, a large part of it, frankly, is blood, sweat, toil and tears. To be analytical, I would say the strip falls into three parts: characterisation, continuity and draughtsmanship. Of these, without doubt, the most important is characterisation. The lead characters must be clearly drawn and instantly recognisable - unmistakable even when dressed in heavy duty space suits. That’s why Dan has those idiosyncratic eyebrows, and Digby round, wide-open eyes. I like, and I think other strip artists do too, to believe in my characters completely.’

For two years most of Dan Dare was drawn by Hampson himself. But as the artists in his studio became more skilled, and understood what he expected of them, he began to delegate. To help his assistants with scale and details he created a series of style guides, some of which have survived and are shown here. Since the first guide is of the main characters, and includes a Mercurian, Hampson probably created it in late 1952, when he had to give up the Marooned on Mercury story. Hampson continues: ‘Ideally, most of the story should be understandable without any speech balloons at all. Each frame is one stage in a series of events, and the artist should keep himself out of the way. Mannerisms and other tricks of technique usually only hinder.’

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