The Venus story ended after a mammoth 77 episodes. What was to follow? The Winter 96 issue of Eagle Times attributes the idea for the story to George Beardmore, who wrote a lot for Eagle,including various text serials and the scripts for Jack o'Lantern and Fraser of Africa.
The storyline runs something like this : Dan's Uncle Ivor is excavating ruins on Mars, and is convinced he knows what wiped out Mars' civilization ... the Red Moon. Dan is visiting him, and and his flight back in Anastasia [her first appearance] he is radioed by Sir Hubert, and asked to investigate a mysterious asteroid nicknamed ... the Red Moon. The asteroid heads for Mars, which has to be evacuated, and attacks it, but Dan makes to land on the moon, and in so doing rescues Prof Peabody, trapped in a crashed spacestation. The Red Moon is atom bombed, with no effect, but in the attack Anastasia is damaged. Dan heads for Earth, and crashes at SF HQ. The Red Moon closes in ... but Prof has an idea - the satellite and its inhabitants, space 'locusts' are attracted by the spectrum of chlorophyll. A gigantic lighthouse is launched to decoy the moon away, and it is eventually destroyed by a Treen bomb near the orbit of Mercury [which leads us into the next story ...]
One of my favourite pictures. This is from the top of the page - the 'lead' frame, and shows Dan and Dig in Anastasia. Sir Hubert has just called them up [you can just see him in the video screen]. This is our first introduction to Anastasia, named after Digby's aunt. They are on their way to visit Uncle Ivor.
These are the next three frames:
But soon Frank handed over to other artists. Harold Johns' work can be seen at the end of the Venus story, and now various studio artists have a go ... not all of whom are that good! The great drawback to the Red Moon story is the variability of the artwork.
But now Harold is the official "second artist"; hence the joint signature at the bottom. This is a typical Harold portrait.
Bit of a crisis going on here ... time for the stiff upper lip.
But then comes Frank's best artwork to date, rich in colour, in design, and in texture. In these frames, Dan, Digby, and Captain Bryant are checking that the holiday resort on Mars is clear when a tidal wave from one of the canals strikes ... I think that in some of these frames Frank does some of his best work.
And the surface of the Red Moon at last ....!
And here we have the front page for 18 April 1952, showing the moment when the Red Moon becomes visible from Earth. This shows Hampson's imagination and attention to detail:
Hampson was a socialist who believed in the ideals of the United Nations, as the small box at the bottom of the picture shows:
But, with honourable exceptions, the standard of the artwork declined. Here is a frame from the penultimate issue - obviously Harold had considerable input at this time, but this could have been the work of another artist. Dan, Digby, and Prof - complete with dog - are transferring to Sondar's flagship. It is also the last frame in which Anastasia appears - she is abandoned until Reign of the Robots.