'bird' boyd

You might say that in his comic-drawing career Frank Hampson took three bites at one particular cherry. He created a pilot of the future (Dan, of course) a contemporary pilot (Raff Royal) and a pilot of yesterday (Bird Boyd).

The first Bird Boyd episode is drawn in detail. The late Keith Watson commented on the extraordinary and fastidious work entailed in drawing the wicker basket of the observation balloon.

As you see, episode two is a ‘scamp’. Bird shoots down the German observers and is rewarded for his trouble when Schirach’s whole ‘Kondor’ circus wheels round to get him. Again a squaddie on the ground sets us up for the ‘curtain’. Sadly, there was no episode three.

Jack Adrian, an ex-Editor of Eagle, reckons later in the story Bird gets on the trail of the traitor who led von Schirach to shoot down all Bird’s co-flyers. In other words, he finds out who gave the German Baron the information which led to the dissing of a whole RFC squadron (Bird excepted).

One of Frank’s rules for creating a strip was that he had to have a large canvass. Dan Dare could traverse the whole universe, so if things got bogged down on one planet, Frank would simply go elsewhere. Travel Agent Birney has the world as his canvas. So does Raff Royal.

I wonder how long Bird would have lasted, confined as he was to a cockpit in a tiny sky.

Click to enlarge

Click to enlarge