This became the very last story FH was to work on - really two stories, as Safari in Space was the prologue to Terra Nova. [As I am sure you all know, safari is Swahili for a journey, but has come to mean a holiday, usually hunting or camping. Terra Nova is Latin for New World.] And it is halfway through that story, in the middle of a long Fleet Street printing strike, that Frank finally gave up, never to draw Dan again.
The previous story, Phantom Fleet, had never really got off the ground, and was wrapped up by Desmond Walduck. But apparently Frank was inspired by the idea of Dan going searching the stars for his father, which is what this story is all about. Around this time, Frank's scriptwriter, Alan Stranks, an Australian from Melbourne, died of a heart attack whilst on holiday. The plot of Safari bears signs of Frank's hand : there are many holes and improbabilities!
Artistically, though, to me it represents Frank's high spot [but the Road of Courage probably surpassed it]. Certainly, at the start, where Frank is doing the front page, and the studio members [Don Harley in the main] are doing Page 2, the difference is very marked.
Altho the opening page contains a large picture of Dan, Digby and Flamer, it is not actually one of my favourites. This I do like : the Theron in the middle is Therex, and the characters in the background are Atlantines, taken from Earth thousands of years ago. The sideways view of Dan, in profile and slightly from behind, is very typical - almost a cliche by now.
The events on the safari are slightly ludicrous : Flamer arouses a sea monster and falls into the lake as a consequence. He is snatched by Dan from the top of the spout of water from the monster's head. But, meanwhile, Digby has been abducted, and then Dan and Flamer are picked up by a gigantic scoop from a hovering spacecraft [!].
Meanwhile Sir Hubert, Lex O'Malley and Prof. Peabody are also on holiday in Mekonta. This was probably the sexiest picture ever seen in Eagle - and particularly by the standards of the 50s! But it also shows why this is my favourite story. However, the three of them are rather improbably dragged off to a submarine ...
Now the entire party has been kidnapped. This is rather a striking potrait of Sir Hubert [it is copied by [probably] Don Harley at the end of Trip to Trouble.] Dan has a rather nifty little gadget in his pocket to show where they are [but with GPS now operational, it's not that farfetched!].
And now it is becoming clear why they have all been kidnapped by the Scots scientist McHoo. Dan's father was the test pilot thirty years ago - on a ship to another star system. This is a sombre portrait.
McHoo is convinced that despite the explosion on the asteroid base on take off, Dan's father and McHoo's own father made it away on their voyage.
This is the first sight of the Galactic Galleon, and Frank goes in for one of his rare full page pictures. To me, it's not as effective as it might be - the close up of Flamer is too close up, and much the same is true of Digby.
But Spacefleet haven't been idle! Although Frank's early drawings of spceships left a lot to be desired, these are much more up to date and believable beasts. Is McHoo in trouble?
McHoo makes his getaway! Frank still has spaceships manoeuvering in space as it they were aircraft flying, but then he wasn't the first and certainly won't be the last who makes that mistake.
The Galleon is a somewhat bizarre design - Frank at his most idiosyncratic - but since it stays in deep space all the time, it doesn't need streamlining!
And Spacefleet are certainly baffled ...
until the Galleon disappears! What a wonderful sequence of pictures!
With the Galleon having escaped from the Spacefleet interceptors, now Dan is on his way to Terra Nova. That evening they have a dinner to celebrate [but toast only in fruit juice!]. Here, in the last frame from Safari in Space, Dan is contemplating what the future has in store for him. The man of action has also become a man of introspection.
And so to the follow on story, Terra Nova ...