Introducing: DIEGO VALOR, the Spanish Dan Dare

The Spanish Dan Dare, Diego Valor, appears to have enjoyed much greater popularity on the radio than as a comic strip. The success of the radio show was consequently projected to other media including comics. And, of course, the Radio version came first.

While Frank Hampson had at his disposal the complete studio team and sizeable financial resources of Fleet Street, his Spanish counterpart from 1954-58 consisted of only three people: two artists, Adolfo Alvarez Buylla and Braulio Rodríguez "Bayo" and writer Enrique Jarnés "Jarber". It is at least gratifying to know that the Spanish Dan Dare radio broadcast enjoyed as much popularity as the original English language serial broadcast on Radio Luxembourg from 1951-56. 

For the Spanish comic strip enthusiasts, Armando Boix has written an eye opening historical document that sheds light not only on the Spanish Dan Dare but serving as a time capsule of radio, theater, TV and comics scene in Spain in the 1950's. Now, we  can all benefit from his expert knowledge on the subject.

And now, onto Diego Valor story.

Jack Lupic, May 3, 2002


DAN DARE'S INTERPLANETARY ADVENTURE
(LA AVENTURA INTERPLANETARIA DE DIEGO VALOR)

Original Spanish language article ©1996 by Armando Boix

Translated with author's permission from the original article
 "La Aventura Interplanetaria de Diego Valor".
Permission was also received from the author on June 1, 2002 
to have the translated article published in a future edition of Eagle Times.

English language translation by Jack Lupic (May 2002)



There was a time in which the radio listeners could get excited by few things other than a soccer match retransmission. Before the TV sets became the king in the Spanish homes, the radio covered a broader generic spectrum: contests, moral sermons, giving advice, live music, bull fights... And the radio novels, stellar programs in the prime hours with largest audience.

The youngest of our readers would not remember that era; those in their thirties would recall their mothers or grandmothers mending socks with an ear tuned to Simplemente María (Simply Maria) or Lucecita, one of the latest melodramatic serials and predecessors of modern soap opera. The melodrama, (expressly tailored for the feminine public which spent most of their time in the home) was the most successful genre, and from the Golden Age of Spanish Radio (1940's and 1950's), we can cite titles such as Lo que no muere (That which never dies) or Ama Rosa (Mistress Rosa), big hits which ended by being adapted for cinema, moving like today's fashionable best sellers. Nevertheless, other themes also enjoyed their popular series: In police genre we can cite titles such as Taxi Key, on Radio Barcelona, or El criminal nunca paga (The Criminal never pays), on Radio Madrid the SER network; and why not a western, El Coyote y Dos hombres buenos (The Coyote and Two good Men), at whose disposal were the exceptional scripts of José Mallorquí.

In reviewing the production of the 50's, it results more surprising to find a Science Fiction series... But, it did exist.

The Space heroe Dan Dare inspired a series on SER network (Spanish National Radio Network), which would last for four seasons, from the end of 1953 to June 1958, with titles of Diego Valor (Dan Dare), Diego Valor y el Príncipe Diabólico (Dan Dare and the Evil Prince), Diego Valor y el Misterio de Júpiter (Dan Dare and Jupiter Mystery), Diego Valor y el Planeta Errante (Dan Dare and the Wandering Planet). There were a total of 1200 episodes, being transmitted at 12:00 noon with a pause and continuation at 7:15PM immediately after Dos hombres buenos (Two good Men).

The origin of the series is somewhat bizarre: in April 1950, the publication of theDan Dare - Eagle, July 15, 1955 British comic magazine Eagle began, receiving an excellent response on the part of the young readers. Of all the series which appeared on its pages, the most popular (it had cover page honours) was Dan Dare, Pilot of the Future, starring a Colonel of Space Fleet, in battle against Mekon, the governing tyrant of Venus. He was created by Frank Hampson and, in addition to remarkable drawings (and no less the brilliant use of colours), it counted on carefully crafted documentation and creation of convincing scenes. The success of Dan Dare resulted in an early radio adaptation for Radio Luxembourg, that began in July 1951 and concluded in May of 1956, with the voice of Noel Johnson in the lead role.

It appears that it is from this radio novel, and not from original comic, where the people in charge of Radio Madrid  took the idea for a new serial. They acquired the rights of the character and, once with him in their hands, all the liberties of the world were taken to adapt it to the national tastes. As it was appropriate for the climate of the time, Diego Valor was born in Spain in the year 2000, and just as Dan Dare, was also a military man, although he had undergone a demotion in his rank, becoming a Commander. Valor (Dare), the heroe admired by all the humanity, undertakes a trip to Venus. Among the crew members there is a woman, Beatriz Fontana, and although, as it was to be expected, her relation with the main character ends in an idyllic love affair, her personality is exceptional in comparison to other females of the fiction of the time, because she is not limited the typical role of a passive companion of the heroe, but of one who takes an active part in the plot and is presented to us like an intelligent and able woman (scientist and space pilot), in equal standing with the men in the crew.

On Venus, the terrestrial travelers will find three races: the brutal Wiganes, led  by Mekon, practically dominate the planet; the Artiles, more intelligent but poorly equipped for the war, resist their attempts of conquest with difficulty, which they aspire to extend to the whole Universe; while the Atlanteans, third race of Terrestrial origin, are still in worse situation, submitted into slavery by Wiganes. Diego Valor will side with the Artiles and with his collaboration (there is nothing like an Earthman, and better if he is a Spaniard) they will be able to defeat to Wiganes after a great battle on the Moon. But their feats will not stop there and the Commander Valor is yet to experience many more adventures through the Solar System later...

The program scripts were the work of Jarber, pseudonym for Enrique Jarnés, regular radio and comics writer.  Theme song was written by Rafael Trabuchelli with Prokofiev's music, The love of three oranges (I suppose so since, in pro-Franco Spain, nobody bothered to pay the author rights to a Soviet composer). The first actor who interpreted Diego Valor was Eduardo Lacueva, promptly and permanently replaced by Joaquín Peláez. The role of his loved Beatriz Fontana was at first the responsibility of Juanita Ginzo, followed by Alicia Altabella and Maria Romero. The remaining personalities were interpreted by Javier Dastis, Fernando and Daniel Dicenta, Flat Encarnita, Maria Jesus Block, Rafael Fúster, Julio Montijano and Mario Moreno, among other actors of the Radio Madrid staff.

As proof of great acceptance by the listeners, theDiego Valor 1957 by CID personalities would later cross over to other media. Comics were made about Diego Valor, an ephemeral three-year television program and three seasons of theater, with Eduardo Lacueva himself as main actor. These adaptations imposed a technical aspect to the production in every respect, since its science fiction argument forced to show on the stage various special effects, as it could be the takeoff of a rocket.

From all of  that, the printed paper being less ephemeral, the only thing that has arrived to us is  the comic strip version. Diego Valor was published by Editorial Cid (Cid Publishing), company related to the SER which usually distributed the novel versions of his serials, like the cited Dos hombres buenosDiego Valor trading card (The Two good men) or Los Bustamantes (The Bustamantes), of Mallorquí. Grouped in two series, the first one began in 1954, drawn by the duo of Adolfo Alvarez Buylla and Bayo (pseudonym for Braulio Rodriguez), and consisted of 124 issues; second, in 1957, consisted of 44 issues and is the work of Buylla and Jano, with the original author, Jarber, as scriptwriter in both cases. Of the comic strip it is only possible to say that its graphical aspect was quite mediocre (not to say bad) and its main distinguishing seal was its format, somewhat eccentric: oblong, like it was traditional in a Spanish adventures booklet, which in its first run measured 10x20 centimeters, changing into a comic book even larger than that of its competitors, generally with dimensions of 17x24 cm.

If the present article excites the curiosity of some readers, still it will be possible in antique bookshops to find the comic books with certain regularity, although the original issues are today the object of collectors and with a crazy price tag. Perhaps more economical, but not more available, is the 1986 re-issue, by Ibercomic-mam, in twenty recompiled volumes of one hundred pages each.

Diego Valor sample comics collectionIt is not an easy task, then, of acceding to this pioneer of Spanish science fiction, that would be deserving of a facsimile edition as other personages are enjoying nowadays. If its artwork is not overwhelming, nor its original plot (it does not offer too many variations on the theme,  héroe de la Tierra derrocando a tirano extraterrestre, (Earth hero overthrowing an extraterrestrial tyrant), which was, since the Thirties already being articulated by long saga of Flash Gordon), it does possess an unquestionable historical value, considering that the radio serial was a contemporary of first Spanish publications of the sort, such as the collections, Futuro (Future) and Luchadores del Espacio (Space Fighters), in which two other series appeared at a critical moment of vindication for some present day fans: Capitán Rido and La Saga de los Aznar. (Captain Rido and The Saga of the Aznar).

Bibliography:

    BAREA, Pedro, La estirpe de Sautier. La época dorada de la radionovela en España
    (The Sautier Stock. The Golden Era of the Radio Novel in Spain)
    (1924-1964).
    El País-Aguilar, col. Visto y Leído. Madrid, 1994.

    DELHOM, J. M., NAVARRO, J., Catálogo del tebeo en España (1915-1965). 
    (Catalogue of Comic Books in Spain)
    Club de Amigos de la Historieta. Valencia, 1980.

    VÁZQUEZ DE PARGA, Salvador, Los cómics del franquismo. 
    (The Comics during the Franco years)
    Ed. Planeta, col. Textos. Barcelona, 1980.

Armando Boix, 1996


This article by Armando Boix was published at the links below which as of Jan. 7, 2015 no longer function:


ARMANDO BOIX: Mini Biography

Armando Boix was born on  October 31, 1966 in Sabadell (Barcelona, Spain). He is a prize-winning cartoonist, novelist and science fiction author. You can contact him at: aboix@sumi.es

For a more detailed biography in Spanish, please click here.
Detailed and current list of his works can be found here.

You can find Armando on: Yahoo! Grupos circulo_conan.


Click below for the original Spanish language article:
LA AVENTURA INTERPLANETARIA DE DIEGO VALOR


Adolfo Alvarez Buylla, the main Diego Valor comic strip artist, drew and supervised the following series:

  • 1954/56: Diego Valor (1ª etapa). 124 cuadernos, más 1 almanaque, sobre guiones de Enrique Jarnés " Jarber" y entintado de Braulio Rodríguez "Bayo". Editorial Cid.
    (1954/56: Diego Valor (first run). 124 issues plus 1 almanac, with scripts by Enrique Jarnés " Jarber" and inking by Braulio Rodríguez "Bayo". Cid Publishing).
  • 1957/58: Diego Valor (2ª etapa). 44 cuadernos, más 1 almanaque y 3 extras, sobre guiones de Enrique Jarnés "Jarber" (menos nums. 1 y 2). Editorial Cid.
    (1957/58: Diego Valor (second run). 44 issues plus 1 almanac and 3 extras, with scripts by Enrique Jarnés " Jarber" (less nos. 1 and 2). Cid Publishing).
  • 1963/64: Diego Valor (3ª etapa). 17 páginas a todo color para el diario La Actualidad Española, entintado por Braulio Rodríguez "Bayo".
    (1963/64: Diego Valor (third run). 17 pages in full colour for the daily La Actualidad Española, colouring by Braulio Rodríguez "Bayo").

Last Revised: January 08, 2015

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