'Because things don’t appear to be the known thing; they aren’t that what they seemed to be neither will they become what they might appear to become.'
Posted by Martin Cohen and Ken Sequin
Team affiliations: Interplanetary Space Fleet
Alas, no, sigh... yet another aspirational challenge failed... this one long ago from the small ads in boys magazines in the 1950s along with other, pointed advice about beach physiques and stamp collecting. Dan's 'authentic' cap badge in brilliant red, black and yellow, that is, with its steel torpedo shaped spaceship at the centre? Surely everyone would want such a badge - but there was a catch. You had to be a member of the Horlicks Spacemen's Club to get one. Not an insurmountable obstacle to be sure, but money was involved.
Dan, or to give him his full title, Colonel Daniel McGregor Dare, was a very British hero, with very British values, such as all parents might hope their boys would aspire to. Throughout the 1950s he rocketed around the Solar System pulling off incredible feats of piloting skills and facing up to the most awful predicaments with a stiff jaw and those famous way eyebrows. Curiously, his spaceship, Anastasia, was named after his Aunt.
There was of course a serious side too to the strip (and the popular radio serialisation) because Dan was in fact involved in fighting evil, personified in the scheming Venusian dictator, the Mekon. Not that they went on about it much, the founder of the Eagle (the comic Dan appeared in), the Rev. Marcus Morris, was vicar of the Southport church of St James at the time, and another clergyman, Rev. Dr. Chad Varah, wrote key scripts in the early years. Of more pressing import to badge wearers, was to be involved in battling the fiendishly cunning oppressor of the the reptilian inhabitants of that watery planet known as 'the Treens'. Unfortunately, for all Dan's policeman-like efforts, the Mekon escaped at the end of each story ready to return with an even more inventive scheme for the conquest of Earth…
The Eagle folded long ago (in 1969) but Dan still jets around from time to time. As well as several new comic incarnations, there have been more radio serialisations, and some musical appreciations too. Pink Floyd founder Syd Barrett wrote Dan Dare into his song 'Astronomy Domine', from the band's debut album The Piper at the Gates of Dawn, with the line 'Stairway scare, Dan Dare, who's there?' Elton John recorded 'Dan Dare (Pilot Of The Future)' for his 1975 album Rock Of The Westies and the British punk rock group The Mekons included a song 'Dan Dare' on their album The Quality of Mercy is not Strnen (sic).
As to the badges, well, its not too late, you can buy brand new ones plated in 24 carat gold for the surprisingly modest price of about £10. But the 'authentic' badge, was not made of metal, but of plastic.That's the space age!
Things you don’t want anyone to know when wearing the badge
Colonel Dan Dare was originally 'Chaplain' Dan Dare of Space Fleet, with rather dull pastoral duties. Only at the very last minute did he swap hats to become the dashing space pilot that boys and girls might really aspire to follow.