Project Nimbus

19th March 1960, close to its tenth birthday, saw several changes to Eagle. The front page was completely re-designed (see the front page page). The large red square with the Eagle logo went. The drawing of Eagle was reduced in size and to black and white. There were other changes too. Frank Hampson returned to the comic, but at the back, with the life of Jesus.

Frank Bellamy had agreed draw Dan Dare for a year. He had finished of the three stories centred around Terra Nova. Now he was to create his own story, and had been told by the editor to update the strip, with new costumes, uniforms, and spacecraft, which he did. This modernisation is still resented by the Frank Hampson loyalists.

nimbus
An almost fool proof hope way of detecting different artists is by the way they've drawn Digby. Here you can see Bellamy's view of Dan and Dig. It is not the Frank Hampson style, but it is undeniably effective. However, things weren't always as good as this: look at the top of the page.

nimbus
The story begins with the missing spaceship Nimbus 1. A radio telescope satellite appears to detect some debris in the vicinity of Jupiter. Dan persuades Sir Hubert to allow him to investigate using Nimbus 2. The scene of the launch of Nimbus 2 is highly dramatic, but it really too big to show in its entirety. In the centre is this picture of Sir Hubert. It shows Bellamy's use of dramatic lighting.

nimbus
Blips on the radar screen turn out the members of the crew of Nimbus 1. Dan has to go out to rescue them. These scenes, undeniably effective, contrast very much with the way Frank Hampson would have tackled the subject.

nimbus

nimbus

Now this is what you call an alien! Dan and Digby encounter them first on one of Jupiter's moons, and these aliens have designs on the Solar System.

nimbus

Something of the "newlook" Dare. In times past, he would have attempted to communicate with the aliens; now he casually wipes them out. That's it folks. Story over. After all that build up. But the new editorial policy was to keep stories short - 25 episodes maximum. And that never allowed again for good plot development.

And at the end of the story, Bellamy leaves to go to something he finds more congenial. A lot of the modernisation had been in vain. Don Harley takes over responsibility for the strip, together with Bruce Cornwell, for Mission of the Earthmen, Solid Space, Platinum Planet, and Earth Stealers. They took parts of the new look, but inevitably imposed their own style of Dan Dare. Then they too are discarded in favour of Keith Watson.