Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Jeff Hawke: Survival Part One

Jeff Hawke: 'Survival', Part One
from Jeff Hawke: Overlord, Titan Books, 2007

Jeff Hawke was a daily science fiction comic strip that artist Sydney Jordan debuted in the UK newspaper The Daily Express in February, 1954. The strip provided to be very popular and ran for twenty years until April, 1974. 

Starting in 1956, Jordan's friend Willie Patterson began contributing to the writing of the strip; as well, at times various uncredited artists did the majority of the artwork.

The strip also appeared in some European newspapers, being particularly well received in Italy.

Jeff Hawke was printed in only one newspaper in the US, the Deseret News, and remains unknown to all but a small part of the American sf readership.

In 2008, UK publisher Titan Books reprinted a selection of Hawke strips: Overlord and The Ambassadors

I'm posting the story 'Survival', from the Overlord compilation, as a two-part posting. The strip originally ran from June to September, 1960. The Titan Books editions apparently relied on scans of the original black and white artwork, which, despite their age, reproduce quite well.   

Reading these strips is like stepping into a time machine, and travelling to an era when comic strips, even those printed in black and white, had an intrinsic artistry and were considered major factors in pulling in, and maintaining, newspaper circulation. 

Despite the limitations on content that came with newspaper publishing, Jordan and Patterson were able to provide reasonably interesting plots, mainly by placing their characters in situations in which deliberation and careful action were required, a stance that was in keeping with the idea of Jeff Hawke as the embodiment of British restraint and rectitude.

Despite having to adhere to the size and format limitations of a comic strip panel, and the drawbacks of reproducing pen-and-ink drawings onto newsprint, Jordan and his assistants produced some memorable artwork. 

They relied on a variety of techniques, such as meticulous cross-hatching, shading and stippling, to provide their images with a depth and sophistication that has long since vanished from cramped, dwindling pages of the comics in today's newspapers.....

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