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My introduction to Dan Dare, the Croatian version

Note: The following article was submitted to EAGLE TIMES in March 1997 and published in December 1998. It is my small contribution to the Dan Dare following and nostalgia sweeping the Globe.  Here then, is the story as to how I became a Dan Dare fan.

PROLOGUE

HOW IT STARTED

It was the summer of 1963. I was twelve years old and had just moved to Zagreb from the enchanting Rab island where I had spent most of my childhood. Rab had only DEN DERI - Dan Dare - biography from now defunct Plavi Vjesnik the basic primary education at that time so grades six through eight had to be completed in the Big City. It is in Zagreb that I first started reading Dan Dare. Under the name DEN DERI, the comic strip was published in Croatian in the youth magazine Plavi Vjesnik (blue messenger), now defunct. Although the magazine hit the streets on Thursdays, I was sometimes able to obtain a copy on a Sunday prior, thanks to a friend of mine whose father worked at the magazine, and brought home an occasional copy. Such was my enthusiasm in following the adventures of Dan Dare that I would stalk the local kiosk hours before the paper arrived. Usually, by late Friday, there was not a copy of the magazine to be had anywhere in Zagreb. It just shows how great the demand for Dan Dare was.

As I later found out, the Croatian publication of Dan Dare lagged by about five years behind Eagle. It might interest the readers, that over the years, Plavi Vjesnik published the entire Dan Dare saga. The magazine began its life in 1953. I am unsure of the dates of the first and the last prints of Dan Dare but my guess is that it spanned at least 10 years of the magazine. As in the case of Eagle, Dan Dare was its main feature.

YEARS OF INACTION

After coming to Canada in the summer of 1966, many years had passed until my interest in Dan Dare was rekindled. In leaving Croatia, I had among other things, lost continuity with Dan Dare. Occasionally, I would wonder as to whatever happened to the comic and if it was still in print. My inaction during so many years in Canada was simply that since arriving here, I had not been able to find a single Canadian magazine or newspaper that was publishing Dan Dare. Yet, in the summer of 1966, Dare was still coming out in Plavi Vjesnik though. It was more disheartening since the comics I used to read in Croatia, such as Rip Kirby and Dr. Kildare, were doing quite well in Canada. My conclusion was that Dan Dare was not popular in North America. To make things worse, I had no leads to the original name and the source of the comic since the Croatian version removed all the Eagle trademarks. Even a short Croatian biography on Frank Hampson never made mention of Eagle comics.

THE SEARCH BEARS FRUIT

Then in August 1994, I was perusing the Comics forum on Compuserve, an not having found any references to Dare, sent a public forum message enquiring about it. On August 20, 94, I was contacted by Nat Gertler and on the 22'nd by Dave Gibbons . Nat is an avid Dare collector, comic book author and writer. Dave is a frequent contributor to magazine 2000 A.D. and has illustrated Dan Dare for that publication. Nat and Dave not only corrected my Croatian spelling of DEN DERI to DAN DARE but gave me the address of Hawk Books and other important leads. It did not take me long to write a letter to Hawk Books and enquire about the comic availability.

THE RESULT

As of now, I am the proud owner of volumes 6, 7, 8, 9 and 10 and am really looking forward to completing the collection. I would appreciate concrete leads to the remaining books. Proudly though, I do own about 27 issues-worth of "The Man From Nowhere" in Croatian, and in reasonable condition. I did notice though that the color reproduction is not of the quality seen in the Hawk Books reprints. The colors are also darker and faded and some do not match the originals. After approximately 38 years, I am sure this can be expected. The Man from Nowhere debuted in Plavi Vjesnik in its 6th year, issue no. 248 on June 25, 1959.

BRIEFLY ABOUT MYSELF

I was born in Zagreb, Croatia in 1951. At the age of 15, in 1966, I emigrated to Canada to join my mother in Toronto. By trade, I am an electronics technician, specializing in Telecommunications. You can contact me via the Internet at: lupic@dalmatia.net. I have only recently started a small Dan Dare page at: http://www.dalmatia.net/lupic/dandare/

EPILOGUE

A debt of gratitude to Nicholas Hill who encouraged me to write this article and for his excellent Dan Dare Web pages. He offers a veritable encyclopaedia of information and I can spend days browsing around without end in sight. Only tremendous personal dedication could have produced such excellent work.

At the same time, I am also grateful to Eagle Society for publishing this article and for their efforts in keeping the legacy of Frank Hampson and Dan Dare alive.

Finally, I am personally indebted to Frank Hampson in stirring up my imagination at an early age and being a catalyst for my later hobbies such as astronomy, astrophysics, amateur radio, SCI/FI and for choosing electronics as my profession. May his star burn forever bright.

Jack Lupic
Toronto, Ontario - Canada
March 5, 1997

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