Eagle and Hotspur

David Middleton and I exchanged comics from the age of 10. I had the better of the deal because I bought the Hotspur, which was cheaper. It was printed on rough paper and featured school stories plus wartime exploits or tales of grit and bravery. The little colour it featured was lurid. The Eagle, on the other hand, had beautiful colour on high quality paper and had fascinating features in addition to its regular comic strips. When we had each read the latest issue, we swapped. Since David's father owned Clover Dairies, while the grandmother who raised me made trawler nets, his purchase of the expensive comic seemed appropriate. The advantage was that I got to keep the Eagle, and stored all its back numbers in my bedroom.

The Eagle's lead strip was "Dan Dare, Pilot of the Future," who thrilled us every week as he journeyed to Venus in search of food for a hungry Earth. There he encountered Treens, the green men led by the evil Mekon, and the benign Therons. More gripping still was his second adventure to combat the menace of the Red Moon, an asteroid that had wiped out life on Mars long ago, and now seemed to be headed for Earth.

All tastes were catered for. There were cowboy stories, detective and police stories, and sponsored strips featuring Tommy Walls who always made the Walls lucky sign, a W with his hands when in trouble, and Harris Tweed, the bumbling detective. The comic's centre-fold featured detailed cut-away drawings of ships or aircraft or other works of engineering. Both comics ultimately folded, but the Eagle outlasted the Hotspur by 10 years, as it deserved to.