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Chapman, James: "Onward Christian Spacemen. Dan Dare – Pilot of the Future as British Cultural History." In: Visual Culture in Britain 9.1 (2009), S. 55–79.
|Resource type: Journal Article
BibTeX citation key: Chapman2009
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Collection: Visual Culture in Britain
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This article examines the place of the comic strip Dan Dare – Pilot of the Future in British cultural history. It argues that the comic strip, largely ignored in histories of popular visual culture, nevertheless deserves attention for the extent to which it represents a means of instructing children in socially correct attitudes and modes of behaviour. To this extent the article considers the origins of the Eagle, the boys' comic in which Dan Dare ran from 1950 until 1969. The Eagle was conceived in response to a moral panic around so-called ‘horror comics’ in the late 1940s and early 1950s. Its flagship strip, Dan Dare – Pilot of the Future, was concerned to project a morally upstanding and honourable ideal of ‘Britishness’. The article argues that Dan Dare was both informed by and responded to issues that affected Britain in the 1950s. It demonstrates the post-war optimism for a better world, especially in its picturing of a technologically advanced future, though it also rehearses concerns around the emergence of atomic weapons. It refers explicitly to recent and contemporary aspects of the British historical experience of the mid-twentieth century, for example in replaying the history of the Second World War through its narratives of resistance to alien invasion and in mapping the geopolitics of the early Cold War onto its narratives of ‘United Nations’ intervention on other planets. The article concludes by considering the decline of the Eagle in the 1960s and by suggesting why more recent attempts to revive Dan Dare have failed.
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