Frank Hampson (1918-1985)
Frank Hampson created ‘Dan Dare, Pilot of the Future’ in 1950, as the front page strip ‘that sold the Eagle’. In a short time it became phenomenally popular, with a million boys waiting expectantly each week for the next episode. This was due in great part to the thoroughness of Hampson’s approach, which made the world so vivid. By using family members and studio artists as models, he developed characters that were completely believable as human beings. Similarly, he thought through the technology systematically, designing it to look as if it would work. Intense research, model making and a vast reference library were all employed to this end. Additionally, Hampson also wrote the texts of the early Dan Dare stories – including The Venus Story – considered by fans as a match for the richness of the imagery. When, in 1959, a new publisher refused to sustain the studio that made possible such high standards, Dan Dare came to an end, and Frank Hampson refused to speak of him. However, in 1975, he accepted an invitation to the biannual comics convention in Lucca, Italy. There he was presented with both its Yellow Kid Award and the specially created title ‘Prestigio Maestro’.
The exhibition, ‘Dan Dare & the Birth of High-Tech Britain’, ran at the Science Museum in 2009.