Jeff Hawke

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Jeff Hawke
JeffHawke.jpg
Jeff Hawke
Author(s) Sydney Jordan
Current status / schedule Finished
Launch date 15 February 1955
End date 18 April 1974
Publisher(s) Daily Express
Genre(s) Science fiction

Jeff Hawke was a British science fiction comic strip created by Sydney Jordan. It was published in the Daily Express from 15 February 1955 to 18 April 1974, by which point Jordan had "written or co-written and drawn 6,474 episodes."[1] Despite its obscurity in English-speaking countries, it is often regarded as one of the most important science fiction comics ever released, especially in Italy and Scandinavian countries.

Publication history[edit]

Sydney Jordan was a graduate of the Aeronautical Technical School in Reading. He long sought to draw a fantastic comic where he could exploit his skills in drawing aeroplanes. In 1955 he met Eric Souster and Jim Gilbert in London, two friends with whom he had served in the R.A.F. Together they created the character of Jeff Hawke.

At first Jeff Hawke, presented as an ex-R.A.F. pilot (just like Jordan) was a rather ordinary, Flash Gordon-like heroic character. The plots were centred around ordinary adventure and science fiction themes common in pulp comics and fiction of the age, and at this stage the drawings were only of average quality. Nevertheless the strip was good enough to be published daily in the Daily Express.

In 1956 William Patterson joined his childhood friend Jordan, at first writing only the dialogue. Prior to this he did work on the Children's Encyclopedia for Amalgamated Press, also doing stories for Dan Dare and war comics. However after a few years he began to produce plot lines and stories as well. This led to a dramatic improvement in the quality of the comic. Patterson made Jeff Hawke the first science fiction comic strip for adults, not just children or adolescents. Jordan, now concentrating entirely on drawing, improved his style to a highly suggestive, realistic, contrasted black-and-white mark. The Patterson-Jordan period is considered the "true" Jeff Hawke by most.

William Patterson, author of Jeff Hawke

In 1969, following a number of stresses and pressures, William Patterson's contract to write Jeff Hawke came to an end. He was not in good mental health and remained in London, separated from his family who stayed in Perth. Willie Patterson's physical health also was affected and he died in 1986, aged only 57 years old. He was laid to rest in Kensal Green cemetery, attended by his daughters Chrys Muirhead and Frances Patterson, and Sydney Jordan. The 1986 Titan Books republication of Jeff Hawke, Book Two, contains a testimonial to the life of Willie Patterson, by Sydney Jordan.

Jordan took back care of both stories and drawings, but without Patterson the quality of the strip declined again. Finally, on 18 April 1974 the Daily Express published its last Jeff Hawke strip.

In 1977, however, comics artist Brian Bolland was approached by Jordan to ghost some episodes, and remarked that by this point fellow artist - "active in the days of comic fandom" and soon to turn professional - Paul Neary had "already done quite a few."[1] Bolland drew 15 episodes, and "Syd touched up some of the faces, a few details here and there, to make them look a bit more like him."[1] By this point, "although the Express owned the rights to the strip, they were not printing it," but since it had a strong European following, these new episodes (Bolland believes) "got collected in anthologies in French and Spanish," but not in the UK except briefly in "the fanzine Eureka."[1]

Jordan later tried to revamp the character by publishing a similar strip called Lance McLane in the Scottish newspaper Daily Record. After this failed to catch on, Jordan came up with an embarrassing plot hole in which McLane somehow transformed himself into Hawke. However the resuscitated strip never recovered the original brilliance of the Patterson period: Jordan left more and more work to his unnamed helpers, and rapidly the strip fell into oblivion.

Story list[edit]

The Jeff Hawke stories
Title Writer Artist Strip numbers Dates Reprinted in
1 (Space Rider) SJ SJ 1 - 138 1954-02-15 - 1954-07-26 Jeff Hawke's Cosmos, Vol 1 Number 1 and 2
2 (The Martian Invasion) SJ SJ 139 - 388 1954-07-27 - 1955-06-22 Jeff Hawke's Cosmos: The Martian Quartet
3 (The Search For Asteron) SJ SJ 389 - 502 1955-06-23 - 1955-11-01 Jeff Hawke's Cosmos: The Martian Quartet
4 (The Threat Of The Past) SJ SJ 503 - 642 1955-11-02 - 1956-04-16 Jeff Hawke's Cosmos: The Martian Quartet
5 Opposite Power SJ SJ 643 - 702 1956-04-17 - 1956-06-25 Jeff Hawke's Cosmos: The Martian Quartet
6 Sanctuary WP/SJ SJ 703 - 809 1956-06-26 - 1956-10-27 Jeff Hawke's Cosmos, Vol 2 Number 2
7 Unquiet Island WP SJ 810 - 927 1956-10-29 - 1957-03-16 Jeff Hawke's Cosmos, Vol 6 Number 1
8 The Castaway SJ SJ 928 - 1098 1957-03-18 - 1957-10-03 Jeff Hawke's Cosmos, Vol 6 Number 2
9 Out Of Touch HH SJ 1099 - 1253 1957-10-04 - 1958-04-05 Jeff Hawke's Cosmos, Vol 5 Number 2
10 The Dream Pedlars SJ SJ 1254 - 1399 1958-04-07 - 1958-09-23 Jeff Hawke's Cosmos, Vol 2 Number 3
11 Poles Apart WP/SJ SJ 1400 - 1544 1958-09-24 - 1959-03-13 Jeff Hawke's Cosmos, Vol 3 Number 2
12 Sacrifice SJ SJ 1545 - 1712 1959-03-14 - 1959-09-26 Jeff Hawke's Cosmos, Vol 1 Number 3, Vol 2, Number 1
13 Time Out Of Mind SJ SJ 1713 - 1824 1959-09-28 - 1960-02-09 Jeff Hawke's Cosmos: Lunar 10
14 Overlord WP SJ 1825 - 1939 1960-02-10 - 1960-06-20 T1, Jeff Hawke's Cosmos, Vol 7 Number 3
15 Survival WP SJ 1940 - 2011 1960-06-21 - 1960-09-12 T1, Jeff Hawke's Cosmos, Vol 7 Number 1
16 Wondrous Lamp WP SJ 2012 - 2163 1960-09-13 - 1961-03-11 T1, Jeff Hawke's Cosmos, Vol 6 Number 2
17 Counsel For The Defense WP SJ 2164 - 2285 1961-03-13 - 1961-08-02 T1, Jeff Hawke's Cosmos, Vol 7 Number 2
18 Pastmaster WP SJ 2286 - 2351 1961-08-03 - 1961-10-18 T2, Jeff Hawke's Cosmos: Lunar 10
19 Immortal Toys WP SJ 2352 - 2494 1961-10-19 - 1962-04-05 T2, Jeff Hawke's Cosmos, Vol 7 Number 3
20 The Ambassadors WP SJ 2495 - 2578 1962-04-06 - 1962-07-13 T2, Jeff Hawke's Cosmos, Vol 7 Number 3
21 The Gamesman WP SJ 2579 - 2639 1962-07-14 - 1962-09-23 T2, Jeff Hawke's Cosmos, Vol 3 Number 3
22 A Test Case WP SJ 2640 - 2724 1962-09-24 - 1963-01-02 T2, Jeff Hawke's Cosmos, Vol 4 Number 1
23 Pass The Parcel SJ SJ 2725 - 2816 1963-01-03 - 1963-04-20 Jeff Hawke's Cosmos, Vol 3 Number 1
24 The Changeling WP SJ 2817 - 2884 1963-04-21 - 1963-07-08 Jeff Hawke's Cosmos, Vol 5 Number 2
25 Rip Van Haddow WP SJ 2885 - 2950 1963-07-09 - 1963-09-24 Jeff Hawke's Cosmos, Vol 1 Number 1
26 Prodigal Son WP SJ 2951 - 3024 1963-09-25 - 1963-12-19 Jeff Hawke's Cosmos, Vol 1 Number 2
27 Uncanny Deep WP SJ 3025 - 3082 1963-12-20 - 1964-01-27 Jeff Hawke's Cosmos, Vol 5 Number 1
28 Winner Loses All SJ SJ 3083 - 3152 1964-01-28 - 1964-05-21 Jeff Hawke's Cosmos, Vol 5 Number 1
29 Faery Land Forlorn WP SJ 3153 - 3238 1964-05-22 - 1964-08-29 Jeff Hawke's Cosmos, Vol 5 Number 3
30 A Foreign Body WP SJ 3239 - 3283 1964-08-31 - 1964-10-22 Jeff Hawke's Cosmos, Vol 3 Number 2
31 Moonstruck SJ SJ 3284 - 3327 1964-10-23 - 1964-12-11 Jeff Hawke's Cosmos: Lunar 10
32 The Helping Hand WP SJ 3328 - 3395 1964-12-12 - 1965-03-03 Jeff Hawke's Cosmos, Vol 4 Number 2
33 Anti-gravity Man WP SJ 3396 - 3504 1965-03-04 - 1965-07-09 Jeff Hawke's Cosmos, Vol 2 Number 1
34 Made In Birmingham WP SJ 3505 - 3566 1965-07-10 - 1965-09-20 Jeff Hawke's Cosmos, Vol 5 Number 2
35 The Oil Rig WP SJ 3567 - 3623 1965-09-21 - 1965-11-25 Jeff Hawke's Cosmos, Vol 7 Number 2
36 Incognito WP SJ 3624 - 3644 1965-11-26 - 1965-12-20 Jeff Hawke's Cosmos, Vol 4 Number 1
37 The Great Atlantic Crossing WP SJ 3645 - 3735 1965-12-21 - 1966-04-08 Jeff Hawke's Cosmos, Vol 2 Number 3
38 Getaway WP SJ 3736 - 3753 1966-04-09 - 1966-04-29 Jeff Hawke's Cosmos, Vol 7 Number 2
39 Ghost Errant WP SJ 3754 - 3819 1966-04-30 - 1966-07-15 Jeff Hawke's Cosmos, Vol 2 Number 2
40 A Word Of Advice WP SJ 3820-3846 1966-07-16 - 1966-08-16 Jeff Hawke's Cosmos, Vol 4 Number 1
41 The Intelligent Ones WP SJ 3847 - 3896 1966-08-17 - 1966-10-13 Jeff Hawke's Cosmos: Hawke's Notes
42 Wildcat WP SJ 3897 - 3951 1966-10-14 - 1966-12-16 Jeff Hawke's Cosmos, Vol 4 Number 2
43 Overland WP SJ 3952 - 4084 1966-12-17 - 1967-05-24 Jeff Hawke's Cosmos, Vol 6 Number 3
44 The Engine That Worked On Grass WP SJ 4085 - 4173 1967-05-25 - 1967-09-05 Jeff Hawke's Cosmos, Vol 5 Number 3
45 The Hole In Space WP SJ 4174 - 4261 1967-09-06 - 1967-12-16 Jeff Hawke's Cosmos, Vol 7 Number 3
46 The Venusian Club WP SJ 4262 - 4361 1967-12-18 - 1968-04-15 Jeff Hawke's Cosmos, Vol 7 Number 1
47 Cataclysm WP SJ 4362 - 4433 1968-04-16 - 1968-07-09 Jeff Hawke's Cosmos, Vol 6 Number 3
48 The Poltergeist WP SJ 4434 - 4517 1968-07-10 - 1968-11-22 Jeff Hawke's Cosmos, Vol 3 Number 2
49 Rogue Star WP SJ 4518 - 4595 1968-11-23 - 1969-02-24 Jeff Hawke's Cosmos, Vol 5 Number 3
50 The Day The Moon Nearly Exploded WP SJ 4596 - 4643 1969-02-25 - 1969-04-21 Jeff Hawke's Cosmos: Lunar 10
51 The Strange Ship WP SJ 4644 - 4700 1969-04-22 - 1969-06-29 Jeff Hawke's Cosmos: Lunar 10
52 Daughter Of Eros SJ SJ/NF 4701 - 4839 1969-06-30 - 1969-12-08 Jeff Hawke's Cosmos, Vol 7 Number 1
53 S. O. S. SJ SJ/NF 4840 - 4916 1969-12-09 - 1970-03-10 Jeff Hawke's Cosmos, Vol 4 Number 3
54 Rescue Party SJ SJ/NF 4917 - 5008 1970-03-11 - 1970-07-01 Jeff Hawke's Cosmos, Vol 4 Number 3
55 Chacondar! SJ SJ/NF 5009 - 5074 1970-07-02 - 1970-09-16 Jeff Hawke's Cosmos, Vol 1 Number 3
56 The Book Of The Worlds SJ SJ/NF 5075 - 5172 1970-09-17 - 1971-01-10 Jeff Hawke's Cosmos, Vol 6 Number 1
57 Time Is Out Of Joint SJ SJ/NF 5173 - 5254 1971-01-12 - 1971-04-20 Jeff Hawke's Cosmos, Vol 6 Number 1
58 Someday I'll Find You SJ SJ/NF 5255 - 5330 1971-04-21 - 1971-07-17 Jeff Hawke's Cosmos, Vol 7 Number 1
59 The Bees On Daedalus SJ SJ/NF 5331 - 5400 1971-07-19 - 1971-10-07 Jeff Hawke's Cosmos, Vol 6 Number 3
60 Here Be Tygers SJ SJ/NF 5401 - 5498 1971-10-08 - 1972-02-01 Jeff Hawke's Cosmos, Vol 4 Number 3
61 Selena SJ SJ/NF 5499 - 5625 1972-02-02 - 1972-06-29 Jeff Hawke's Cosmos: Lunar 10
62 Sitting Tenants SJ SJ/NF 5626 - 5778 1972-06-30 - 1973-01-01 Jeff Hawke's Cosmos, Vol 3 Number 3
63 Shorty's Secret SJ SJ/NF/MA 5779 - 5904 1973-01-02 - 1973-05-31 Jeff Hawke's Cosmos: Lunar 10
64 On The Run SJ SJ/NF 5905 - 6001 1973-06-01 - 1973-09-21 Jeff Hawke's Cosmos, Vol 4 Number 2
65 The Comet's Tale SJ SJ/NF 6002 - 6118 1973-09-22 - 1974-02-09 Jeff Hawke's Cosmos, Vol 6 Number 2
66 The First Person Plural SJ SJ/NF 6119 - 6175 1974-02-11 - 1974-04-18 Jeff Hawke's Cosmos, Vol 4 Number 1
67 The Winds Of Mars SJ SJ 6176 - 6257 1975-11-04 - 1976-??-?? Jeff Hawke's Cosmos, Vol 7 Number 2
68 Moratorro SJ SJ 6258 - 6413 1975-05-05 - 1975-11-01 Jeff Hawke's Cosmos, Vol 5 Number 1
69 Heir Apparent SJ SJ/BB/PN 6414 - 6487 Jeff Hawke's Cosmos: Lunar 10

Note - T1 and T2 refer to the two books published by Titan Books. Jeff Hawke's Cosmos is a publication of the Jeff Hawke Club. All the Jeff Hawke stories have been published in nine volumes by the club.

Themes[edit]

A typical Jeff Hawke strip.

Jeff Hawke started as a conventional hero-vs-aliens science fiction action comic, but under Patterson's direction it quickly developed its own individual style. The three frames format of the daily strip made it hard to create vivid action scenes, so the stories centred more on dialogue than on action and violence (although these do occur).

The Jeff Hawke character himself became more and more focused on reasoning, diplomacy and moral virtues instead of brute force and bravery, and he is frequently forced by circumstances to be the ambassador of mankind in front of alien species. There are many circumstances in which Jeff Hawke is more an observer than a participant. The real main characters in Jeff Hawke were the aliens. The universe of Jeff Hawke was highly populated with strange alien species that came in contact with humans for various reasons – accidental contact, commercial interests, and so on, but hardly ever for invasion. The plots of Jeff Hawke turned around the seemingly endless, baroque diversity of aliens and their worlds, their contacts with humans, and the ability of Hawke and his friends to manage relationships with so many different entities. The subtle wit of Patterson made the creatures and the plots revolving around them as fascinating as they were amusing, whereas the highly expressive Jordan drawing style fully captured the strangeness of the various worlds and creatures. The aliens were almost always much more technologically advanced and wise than humans, and often the plots were highly critical of various "primitive" aspects of the human race, like pollution.

Often in the plots of Jeff Hawke there was a connection between extraterrestrial entities, archaeological mysteries and even supernatural creatures. The god Pan and the devil, among others, appeared in Jeff Hawke strips.

There was also a softcore erotic flavour in some strips. For example, there were some instances in which alien creatures took the shape of beautiful young women.

Characters[edit]

Apart from Jeff Hawke himself, there are not many recurring characters in the comic, and almost no stable one. Here are listed the ones that recur the most.

  • Jeff Hawke: A well-educated, ex-pilot, with an outstanding scientific and archaeological knowledge and a seraphic, ironic attitude. He usually wears a sober suit and a necktie, unless when he's forced to use a spacesuit (which happens quite often).
  • Laura: The girlfriend of Jeff Hawke, almost disappears after the first stories.
  • Mac McLean: A Canadian air force pilot, he is Jeff Hawke's aid in many situations and one of the few human recurring characters.
  • Kolvorok: The First Official of the Intergalactic Police. A funny, one-eyed, jellyfish-shaped tentacled alien, it is as verbose as inept.
  • Chalcedon: A gigantic humanoid, and a mischievous, arrogant, clever interstellar criminal. He always manages to escape both Jeff Hawke and the Intergalactic Police.

Recognition[edit]

Despite being published in an English newspaper, Jeff Hawke is practically unknown in English-speaking countries. On the other hand, it gained considerable popularity in Italy, Sweden, Spain, ex-Yugoslavia and some other European countries.

In USA, Jeff Hawke was printed in the "Deseret News" and was reprinted in Menomonee Falls Gazette.

Jeff Hawke and the Apollo Moon Landings[edit]

In the strip H1760 (see image), published 21 November 1959, it is possible to see a stone that commemorates the first human landing on the Moon, noting that it happened on 4 August 1969. Thus, Sydney Jordan and William Patterson forecast the real date of this event with an error of only two weeks, ten years before Neil Armstrong made the first descent to the Moon surface on July 21.

Original model for Jeff Hawke[edit]

In the introduction to "The Jeff Hawke Book Two: Counsel for the Defence" (Titan Books, 1986), Sydney Jordan states:

"The discerning may recognise from my drawings of Hawke, that I used Hans Meyer as a model."

South African actor Hans Meyer later went on to feature in a number of TV shows including BBC TV's Colditz as Hauptmann Ullmann.

Collected editions[edit]

In 1985, Nick Landau of Titan Books was finding considerable success with Judge Dredd and other 2000AD collections, and obtained the rights to publish some Jeff Hawke collections, and with them "[n]early 7,000 [copies of] episodes in a huge ungainly pile" from the Express offices.[2] He approached professional fan Brian Bolland, who suggested "Overlord" as the first story to be collected, and duly produced a cover for the collection.[2] A second collection followed soon after, subtitled "Counsel for the Defence," also under a newly commissioned cover from the popular Dredd and Camelot 3000 artist, Bolland.[2] Bolland notes, though, that "[s]ales of the Jeff Hawke collections were obviously disappointing, so there were only two."[3] Plans were already afoot for a third collection, and the shelved book, Bolland reports, would have "contained another great story "The Ambassadors"."[3]

In 2008, Titan Books resurrected the Patterson-era comic strip collections in a hardback archival - 'collector's' - format, issued alongside their similar hardback Dan Dare and Charley's War collections, and in tandem with other collections of Daily Express strip favourites Modesty Blaise and James Bond.

The first book covered the same contents as the two volumes from nearly twenty-five-years previously; the second volume echoes Bolland's recollection of the mooted contents of the unpublished original third volume.

  • Jeff Hawke:
    • Overlord (collects "Overlord", "Survival", "Wondrous Lamp" and "Counsel for the Defence", 128 pages, February 2008, ISBN 1-84576-597-4)
    • The Ambassadors (collects "The Ambassadors", "Pastmaster", "The Immortal Toys", "The Gamesman" and "A Test Case", 128 pages, July 2008, ISBN 1-84576-598-2)

The British Jeff Hawke Club began reprinting Jeff Hawke in its journal, Jeff Hawke's Cosmos, in 2003. Each issue includes story notes on the science featured in the story, and commentary on the origins of the tales from creator Sydney Jordan. In addition to the regular magazine, three special editions - The Martian Quartet, Lunar 10 and Hawke's Notes have also been published.

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d Bolland, Brian, "The 1970's – Jeff Hawke" in Joe Pruett (ed.) The Art of Brian Bolland, (Image Comics, 2006), ISBN 1-58240-603-0, pp. 52-53
  2. ^ a b c Bolland, "The 1980's – Jeff Hawke Titan Collections" in The Art of Brian Bolland, p. 174
  3. ^ a b Bolland, "The 1980's – Jeff Hawke Volume 3 Prelim" in The Art of Brian Bolland, p. 174

External links[edit]