|Launch date||15 February 1955|
|End date||18 April 1974|
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." 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.
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 on 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.
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." 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." 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."
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.
|№||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.
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.
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, except 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 it is inept.
- Chalcedon: A gigantic humanoid, and a mischievous, arrogant, clever interstellar criminal. He always manages to escape both Jeff Hawke and the Intergalactic Police.
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.
Jeff Hawke and the Apollo Moon Landings
In the strip H1760, 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.
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.
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. He approached professional fan Brian Bolland, who suggested "Overlord" as the first story to be collected, and duly produced a cover for the collection. 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. Bolland notes, though, that "[s]ales of the Jeff Hawke collections were obviously disappointing, so there were only two." Plans were already afoot for a third collection, and the shelved book, Bolland reports, would have "contained another great story "The Ambassadors"."
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. The books are:
- 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.
- 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
- Bolland, "The 1980's – Jeff Hawke Titan Collections" in The Art of Brian Bolland, p. 174
- Bolland, "The 1980's – Jeff Hawke Volume 3 Prelim" in The Art of Brian Bolland, p. 174
- Jeff Hawke Club - publishers of Jeff Hawke's Cosmos (in English)
- A complete list of the Jeff Hawke episodes (in English)
- Unofficial Jeff Hawke fan site (in Italian)