The Eagle Timeline

eagle timeline logo sThe Eagle Family Tree was one of the first major posts on this blog, back in May 2018, but it’s always bothered me a little that I did it the lazy way, showing only the hierarchical relationships between the comics and not a proper time-line. Plus, unlike some of the later timelines on this blog (such as this one), I didn’t include details of all the titles within the article’s text, just on the graphic… Which means that a search-engine won’t find them.

I’ve rectified both of those problems for this revised version that marks the 70th anniversary of the original Eagle. I’ve also corrected some minor errors, and expanded it a little: we’re jumping from sixty-four titles to seventy-one… That’s because I decided to include the revived version of The Penny Popular as it was so close in time to the first version.

Speaking of revivals: I was hugely tempted to include Ranger from 1965 on the pretence that it was a revival of the second incarnation of The Ranger from 1933, but the thirty-year gap was just too long to justify it. Plus I’d then have to include the earlier versions of other story-papers such as Pluck and The Golden Penny (and of course all of the other titles to which they’re connected).

If you’ve not yet seen the first version of the Eagle Family Tree, here’s a brief recap: This all began when I realised that the 1980s Eagle had an indirect link to the 1950s Eagle

Tiny Eagle Family Tree

But of course each of those comics absorbed others along the way, so here’s an expended version:

Mini Eagle Family Tree

Going further still and recursively including the comics absorbed and relaunched, I ended up with this…

Full Eagle Family Tree
(That “Eaglution” pun wore thin a lot sooner than I’d expected.)

The revised edition of the graphic is a lot bigger, but sadly also a bit untidier… However, it’s much, much easier to see which comics existed contemporaneously: the old version gives a very false idea of how they relate to each other in that regard.

Eagle Timeline 20200413 s
This is just the fun-sized version of the chart… click it for the real thing… but be warned: it’s a 4.4mb jpg that’s 6300 pixels across by 5100 pixels high. That’s over 32 million pixels free for you to take home and keep, no purchase necessary!


And now, all the details of the comics (and story-papers) that belong to the Eagle timeline… As always, if I’ve got anything wrong here please do let me know.

comiccutsComic Cuts
From: 16 May, 1890
To: 12 September, 1953
Duration: 63 years, 4 months
Issues: 3006
Absorbed: The Golden Penny, Larks, Jolly Comic
Absorbed into: The Knock-Out Comic

Comic Cuts was one of the most famous comics in the world, for a very long time, although it was far from the first. Initially it was comprised of cartoons taken from other publications, but as its popularity grew it printed more and more original material. I’ve covered an issue of Comic Cuts in detail elsewhere on this blog!

thehalfpennymarvelThe Halfpenny Marvel
From: 10 November, 1893
To: 22 January, 1904
Duration: 10 years, 2 months
Issues: 533
Relaunched as: The Marvel

Originally The Halfpenny Marvel Library for the first three issues, this was a story-paper that featured the first adventures of soon-to-be hugely popular characters like Sexton Blake and Nelson Lee (who later gets his own publication that also appears in the Eagle timeline: see below). Occasional special issues were double-sized and thus double-priced: since those issues cost more than the usual ha’penny, they were instead titled The Marvel. The magazine was officially retitled The Marvel from #228 (19 Mar 1898), then relaunched with the same title almost six years later.

boysfriendThe Boys’ Friend
From: 28 January, 1895
To: 31 December, 1927
Duration: 32 years, 11 months
Issues: 1717
Absorbed: The Dreadnought, The Penny Popular (1912)
Absorbed into: The Triumph

More adventure stories about Sexton Blake and Nelson Lee and all that lot. This is one of those publications that’s often hard to track down because its title has a wandering apostrophe — very annoying!

boysheraldThe Boys’ Herald (1903)
From: 31 July, 1903
To: 17 May, 1912
Duration: 8 years, 9 months
Issues: 461
Relaunched as: Cheer Boys Cheer

I’m going to take a guess as say that a hundred years ago this paper’s subtitle — “A Healthy Paper for Manly Boys” — wasn’t as cringe-inducing as it is now. Renamed The Herald on 10 Feb 1912, then relaunched as Cheer Boys Cheer three months later. Note: There’s no direct connection between this and The Greyfriars Herald (1919) which was later renamed The Boys’ Herald.

themarvel2The Marvel
From: 29 January, 1904
To: 22 April, 1922
Duration: 18 years, 3 months
Issues: 952
Relaunch of: The Halfpenny Marvel
Absorbed: The Greyfriars Herald (1919), Nugget Weekly
Relaunched as: Sport and Adventure

Thanks to inflation, it’s never a good idea to include the price of your product in its name, as the publishers of The Halfpenny Marvel discovered long before this relaunched edition. Frequently featured school stories by Frank Richards (real name Charles Hamilton), creator of Billy Bunter and very probably the most prolific writer of the English language ever.

gemlibraryThe Gem Library
From: 15 March, 1907
To: 13 April, 1929
Duration: 22 years, 1 month
Issues: 1104
Relaunched as: The Gem

It’s Charles Hamilton again, folks, apparently writing the majority of the stories in this title under the house-name Martin Clifford. Presumably Hamilton had to give his Frank Richards persona a day off every now and then.

magnetlibraryThe Magnet Library
From: 14 February, 1908
To: 3 August, 1929
Duration: 21 years, 6 months
Issues: 1120
Relaunched as: The Magnet

Something of a legend in his time, the character Billy Bunter began life here in the very first issue of The Magnet Library, although he was only a minor character at first. This title and the relaunched version clocked up 1683 issues in total, of which Billy Bunter appeared in 1670. All written (as was the majority of all the stories in all the issues) by… take a guess… Charles “Frank Richards” Hamilton.

cheerboyscheerCheer Boys Cheer
From: 24 May, 1912
To: 12 September, 1913
Duration: 1 year, 3 months
Issues: 69
Relaunch of: The Boys’ Herald (1903)
Relaunched as: The Boy’s Journal

After almost nine years of stories about posh kids in public schools The Boys’ Herald decides to go for a revamp. This version mostly features stories about posh kids in public schools. Sadly, this radical reinvention doesn’t work and before long the publication is once again revamped, almost — but not quite — back-pedalling all the way to the original title.

dreadnoughtThe Dreadnought
From: 31 May, 1912
To: 11 June, 1915
Duration: 3 years
Issues: 171
Absorbed: The Boy’s Journal
Absorbed into: The Boys’ Friend

One of those publications that could never decide exactly what it wanted to be… Retitled Dreadnought and War Pictorial from 26 Sep 1914, then Dreadnought Boys’ War Weekly from 7 Nov 1914, then back to Dreadnought from 2 Jan 1915.

pennypopularThe Penny Popular (1912)
From: 11 October, 1912
To: 30 March, 1918
Duration: 5 years, 5 months
Issues: 286
Absorbed into: The Boys’ Friend
Revived as: The Popular (1919)

Almost a year after this story-paper was absorbed into The Boys’ Friend, a “revival” was launched, which changed its name to The Popular less than a year later. Remember what I said earlier about not including the price in the title? Although there’s no direct link between the two, I’ve decided to include the revived version and its own successors, which you can find below.

boysjournalThe Boy’s Journal
From: 19 September, 1913
To: 29 January, 1915
Duration: 1 year, 4 months
Issues: 72
Relaunch of: Cheer Boys Cheer
Absorbed into: The Dreadnought

Third go around for what was originally The Boys’ Herald, and only marginally more successful than the second version, lasting three issues longer before they just gave up and threw themselves into the jaws of The Dreadnought, which itself died six months later.

nelsonleelibraryThe Nelson Lee Library
From: 11 June, 1915
To: 12 August, 1933
Duration: 18 years, 2 months
Issues: 948
Absorbed into: The Gem

The massively successful detective Nelson Lee — created by Dr. John Staniforth, writing as Maxwell Scott — first appeared in The Halfpenny Marvel (see above) in 1894, and for a long time the stories were pretty standard adventures, typical for the era: smugglers, spies, ne’er-do-wells, etc. However, a couple of years into his own publication the publishers looked upon the huge surge of popularity of school-based stories and thought, “We’ll be having some of that!” and suddenly Nelson Lee became a resident school house-master and dealt chiefly with school-based mysteries. By way of comparison, that’d be like James Bond giving up the spy business to become a mall security guard.

thepopular2The Penny Popular (1919)
From: 25 January, 1919
To: 31 January, 1931
Duration: 12 years
Issues: 628
Revival of: The Penny Popular (1912)
Relaunched as: The Ranger (1931)

A relaunch — after a gap of almost a year — of The Penny Popular (1912). The title was changed to The Popular on 28 Aug 1920.

thethrillerThe Thriller
From: 9 February, 1929
To: 18 May, 1940
Duration: 11 years, 3 months
Issues: 578
Absorbed: The Wild West Weekly

Renamed Thriller Library from #423 (13 Mar 1937), then War Thriller from #579 (9 Mar 1940).

youngbritain1Young Britain (1919)
From: 14 June, 1919
To: 17 November, 1923
Duration: 4 years, 5 months
Issues: 232
Relaunched as: Young Britain (1923)

Not quite as jingoistic as the title would suggest, thankfully, this was fairly standard schools-‘n’-sports-‘n’-smugglers fare.

greyfriarsherald2The Greyfriars Herald (1919)
From: 1 November, 1919
To: 25 March, 1922
Duration: 2 years, 4 months
Issues: 126
Absorbed: The Greyfriars Herald (1915)
Absorbed into: The Marvel (1904)

The second edition of this paper: the first ran from from 20 Nov 1915 to 17 Mar 1916 for 18 issues. This edition was retitled The Greyfriars Boys’ Herald from #61 (25 Dec 1920), then The Boys’ Herald from #75 (2 Apr 1921). No connection with The Boys’ Herald (1903) which appears above.

nuggetweeklyNugget Weekly
From: 17 July, 1920
To: 5 March, 1921
Duration: 7 months
Issues: 34
Absorbed into: The Marvel

This one boasts “Unique Among ALL Boys’ Papers!” on the front cover (albeit with a space before the exclamation mark, which I will not reproduce: I may not have much, but, by gum, I do have my principles) but it doesn’t say why it’s unique. Unless the thing that makes it unique is that it’s the only boys’ paper that features that boast on the front cover.

thechampionThe Champion (1922)
From: 28 January, 1922
To: 19 March, 1955
Duration: 33 years, 1 month
Issues: 1729
Absorbed: Boys’ Magazine, Young Britain (1923), The Triumph
Absorbed into: Tiger
Revived as: Champion

In one of those odd quirks of coincidence, this Champion was consumed by Tiger and 1966’s Champion fell foul to Lion.

boysmagazineBoys’ Magazine
From: 27 February, 1922
To: 20 January, 1934
Duration: 11 years, 10 months
Issues: 620
Absorbed: Pals (1922)
Absorbed into: The Champion (1922)

A little unusually for story-papers of the era, Boys’ Magazine had a tendency to feature science fiction stories. Unfortunately it can be tricky to track down copies of this one because it’s sometimes confused with its contemporary namesakes The Boys’ Magazine (20 Aug 1886 to 20 Aug 1961, 901 issues, published by The Scripture Union Ltd.) and the U.S. publication The Boys’ Magazine (1910 to circa 1925, published by Scott F. Redfield Co.).

sportandadventureSport and Adventure
From: 29 April, 1922
To: 21 October, 1922
Duration: 6 months
Issues: 22
Relaunch of: The Marvel (1904)
Relaunched as: Pluck (1922)

After eighteen years The Marvel decides to reboot with a title that tells it like it is. Bravo! Sadly, this honest approach doesn’t pay off and half a year later it gets relaunched again.

pals2Pals (1922)
From: 9 October, 1922
To: 19 November, 1923
Duration: 1 year, 1 month
Issues: 59
Absorbed into: Boys’ Magazine

A revival in name only of a title that ran from 7 Oct 1895 to 6 May 1896, for 31 issues, and which itself was a relaunch of Comrades (14 Jan 1893 to 1 Oct 1895, 142 issues).

goldenpennyThe Golden Penny
From: 14 October, 1922
To: 28 January, 1928
Duration: 5 years, 3 months
Issues: 276
Absorbed into: Comic Cuts

The third Golden Penny title, following the first which ran from 15 Jun 1895 to 26 Dec 1903 for 446 issues, was incorporated into The Hour Glass, which was launched in Jan 1904, ceased publication the following July, was revived in Jun 1907 and then relaunched as The Golden Penny in Apr 1908.

pluck3Pluck (1922)
From: 28 October, 1922
To: 4 October, 1924
Duration: 1 year, 11 months
Issues: 103
Relaunch of: Sport and Adventure
Absorbed into: The Rocket

The third Pluck title. The first ran from 24 Nov 1894 to 5 Nov 1904, for 519 issues. It was then relaunched and ran from 12 Nov 1904 to 18 Mar 1916 for 594 issues. (Some sources suggest that it was this this title, rather than The Rocket, that was relaunched as The Triumph.)

therocketThe Rocket
From: 17 February, 1923
To: 11 October, 1924
Duration: 1 year, 7 months
Issues: 87
Absorbed: Pluck (1922)
Relaunched as: The Triumph

Number of issues and dates are unconfirmed. As mentioned above, some sources suggest that it was Pluck (1922) rather than this title that was relaunched as The Triumph, but I’m 98½% certain that I’ve got it right.

youngbritain2Young Britain (1923)
From: 24 November, 1923
To: 16 August, 1924
Duration: 8 months
Issues: 39
Relaunch of: Young Britain (1919)
Absorbed into: The Champion (1922)

This relaunched, though short-lived, version. I’ve never even seen a copy so I don’t know much about it, except that for some reason whenever I type the name it comes out as “Young Brian” which never happens any other time I type the word “Britain.”

triumphThe Triumph
From: 18 October, 1924
To: 25 May, 1940
Duration: 15 years, 7 months
Issues: 814
Relaunch of: The Rocket
Absorbed: The Boys’ Friend, The Gem
Absorbed into: The Champion (1922)

The issue dated 5 Aug 1939 contains the first appearance of Superman in a British publication and as such is highly sought-after! I don’t have a copy, but I do have a birthday coming up in eleven months, so if anyone’s feeling generous…

larks2Larks
From: 29 October, 1927
To: 18 May, 1940
Duration: 12 years, 6 months
Issues: 656
Absorbed into: Comic Cuts

No known connection to the similarly-titled Larks! that ran for 239 issues from 1 May 1893 to 29 Dec 1906.

thegemThe Gem
From: 20 April, 1929
To: 30 December, 1939
Duration: 10 years, 8 months
Issues: 559
Relaunch of: The Gem Library
Absorbed: The Nelson Lee Library
Absorbed into: The Triumph

Although relaunched from The Gem Library, this version retained the original issue numbering, starting with #1105. I’ve chosen to present it as a relaunch rather than just a retitling as the changes were quite significant.

themagnetThe Magnet
From: 10 August, 1929
To: 18 May, 1940
Duration: 10 years, 9 months
Issues: 563
Relaunch of: The Magnet Library
Absorbed into: The Knock-Out Comic

It’s Billy Bunter and his privileged chums up to their old scrapes again.

theranger1The Ranger (1931)
From: 14 February, 1931
To: 5 August, 1933
Duration: 2 years, 5 months
Issues: 130
Relaunch of: The Penny Popular (1919)
Relaunched as: The Ranger (1933)

Not one I know much about: it appears to be the usual collection of tales about smugglers and spies. Not that that’s a bad thing by any means.

theranger2The Ranger (1933)
From: 12 August, 1933
To: 28 September, 1935
Duration: 2 years, 1 month
Issues: 112
Relaunch of: The Ranger (1931)
Absorbed: The Pioneer
Relaunched as: The Pilot

IPC later launched a new magazine called Ranger (18 Sep 1965 to 18 Jun 1966, 40 issues) but it’s so far removed from this one I don’t consider it a revival. I tried, though. I really did, because that comic was the original source of The Trigan Empire.

pioneerThe Pioneer
From: 10 February, 1934
To: 28 July, 1934
Duration: 5 months
Issues: 25
Absorbed into: The Ranger (1933)

Another one of those titles that’s hard to track down because of a more popular namesake. In this case, it’s the Indian newspaper The Pioneer, which has been running since 1865.

jollycomicJolly Comic
From: 19 January, 1935
To: 28 October, 1939
Duration: 4 years, 9 months
Issues: 250
Absorbed into: Comic Cuts

A weekly humour comic in the “captions beneath the pictures” style, which was a common step on the evolutionary ladder between text stories and “proper” comics.

thepilotThe Pilot
From: 5 October, 1935
To: 2 April, 1938
Duration: 2 years, 5 months
Issues: 131
Relaunch of: The Ranger (1933)
Absorbed into: The Wild West Weekly

For a long time my copy of The Pilot #22 was the oldest comic (well, story-paper) in my collection. I briefly reviewed it on-line, and that experience was one that convinced me to start this blog! I later retroactively included that feature here.

wildwestweeklyThe Wild West Weekly
From: 21 March, 1938
To: 11 March, 1939
Duration: 11 months
Issues: 49
Absorbed: The Pilot
Absorbed into: The Thriller

Again, another one that’s not so easy to find on-line because it’s drowned out by another publication with a similar name, in this case an American mag published by Street & Smith that ran from August 1927 to late 1943, for 822 issues.

knockoutv1The Knock-Out Comic
From: 4 March, 1939
To: 16 February, 1963
Duration: 23 years, 11 months
Issues: 1251
Absorbed: Comic Cuts, The Magnet
Absorbed into: Valiant

The comic’s title was later changed to Billy Bunter’s Knockout, then later simplified to Knockout. A revival of sorts — also called Knockout — ran from 12 June 1971 to 23 June 1973, when it was absorbed by Whizzer and Chips and became part of the Buster timeline.

comet1The Comet (1946)
From: 20 September, 1946
To: 17 May, 1949
Duration: 2 years, 8 months
Issues: 70
Relaunched as: Comet (1949)

This first version of The Comet — published fortnightly — had a strong focus on one-page humour strips and was aimed at the same market as The Dandy and The Beano.

sunSun
From: 11 November, 1947
To: 17 October, 1959
Duration: 11 years, 11 months
Issues: 558
Absorbed into: Lion

Called Fitness and Sun for the first four issues (with “Fitness and” in much, much smaller text than “Sun”). Retitled Battler Britton’s Own Weekly in 1959. (I find it a tad amusing that Sun was launched on the eleventh of the eleventh and ran for eleven years and eleven months.)

comet2Comet (1949)
From: 24 May, 1949
To: 22 March, 1952
Duration: 2 years, 9 months
Issues: 122
Relaunch of: The Comet (1946)
Relaunched as: Comet (1952)

This relaunched version shifted focus to slightly older readers, and the humour strips were mostly replaced with adventure tales. Fortnightly until #96, weekly thereafter.

eaglev1Eagle (1950)
From: 14 April, 1950
To: 26 April, 1969
Duration: 19 years
Issues: 987
Absorbed: Swift, Boys’ World
Absorbed into: Lion
Revived as: Eagle (1982)

I reckon if you’re reading this article — and my psychic powers tell me that you are — then you probably know a fair bit about the original Eagle. If not, here’s a good place to start.

lionLion
From: 23 February, 1952
To: 18 May, 1974
Duration: 22 years, 2 months
Issues: 1156
Absorbed: Sun, Eagle (1950), Champion, Thunder
Absorbed into: Valiant

It does seem strange that Lion — which might seem like a fairly run-of-the-mill comic at first glance — was the one that absorbed Eagle rather than the other way around, but Eagle had been dying for a long time before it succumbed to Enfari’s Syndrome, plus Lion was cheaper to produce. However, despite the low production values, Lion was quality stuff, and considerably less po-faced than Eagle which, let’s be honest, was a bit “worthy” at times. Kids didn’t want stories about the life of Jesus or Winston Churchill: they wanted adventures with Captain Condor and Robot Archie!

comet3Comet (1952)
From: 29 March, 1952
To: 10 October, 1959
Duration: 7 years, 6 months
Issues: 364
Relaunch of: Comet (1949)
Absorbed into: Tiger

Unusually for a relaunch, the numbering continues from the previous incarnation — Comet (1949) — starting with #193.

swiftSwift
From: 20 March, 1954
To: 2 March, 1963
Duration: 8 years, 11 months
Issues: 477
Absorbed: Zip
Absorbed into: Eagle (1950)

A companion paper to Eagle (the final one, following 1951’s Girl and 1953’s The Robin) albeit aimed at a slightly younger readership. Although it lasted almost nine years, it didn’t achieve anything close to the same impact as any of its siblings. It did, however, feature a “Robin Hood” strip with some cracking art by Frank Bellamy.

tigerTiger
From: 11 September, 1954
To: 30 March, 1985
Duration: 30 years, 6 months
Issues: 1554
Absorbed: The Champion (1922), Comet (1952), Hurricane, Jag, Scorcher, Speed
Absorbed into: Eagle (1982)

The comic that begat “Roy of the Rovers,” who went on to get his own comic. Aside from, arguably, the Marvel UK titles, you don’t get a lot of spin-offs from British comics… One day, I must do an article about them!

zipZip
From: 4 January, 1958
To: 3 October, 1959
Duration: 1 year, 8 months
Issues: 85
Absorbed into: Swift

A little-remembered title from Odhams that featured licensed Disney characters… setting the scene for their later publications Pow! Fantastic and Terrific which did the same thing with Marvel characters.

valiantValiant
From: 6 October, 1962
To: 16 October, 1976
Duration: 14 years
Issues: 714
Absorbed: The Knock-Out Comic, Lion, Smash!, TV 21 & Joe 90, Vulcan
Absorbed into: Battle Picture Weekly

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: Valiant really was a great comic! As a kid, I was quite a fan of Zip Nolan. Anyone who knows me will probably confirm that I do like stories about motorcycle-riding cops, though Zip Nolan didn’t feature nearly enough mutants or cyborgs for my taste.

boysworldBoys’ World
From: 26 January, 1963
To: 3 October, 1964
Duration: 1 year, 8 months
Issues: 89
Absorbed into: Eagle (1950)

Among the strips in Boys’ World was “The Angry Planet,” an adaptation by science fiction writer Harry Harrison of his own novel Deathworld (no connection to “The Angry Planet” from Tornado). Harrison also wrote text stories for Boys’ World, as well as episodes of “Merlo the Magician.”

hurricaneHurricane
From: 29 February, 1964
To: 8 May, 1965
Duration: 1 year, 2 months
Issues: 63
Absorbed into: Tiger

Had a big argument at a convention a couple of years back with a chap who was absolutely convinced that “Captain Hurricane” from Valiant was actually this comic’s “Typhoon Tracy” after a name-change. Given that the good Captain predates this comic by about eighteen months, that seems unlikely. Also, the characters were nothing like each other.

whamWham!
From: 20 June, 1964
To: 13 January, 1968
Duration: 3 years, 6 months
Issues: 187
Absorbed into: Pow!

“Biff” was later reprinted as “Sam” in Thunder. The arch-nemesis of “Eagle Eye, Junior Spy” was Grimly Feendish who was later awarded his own strip in Smash!, as well as being name-checked in a song by The Damned.

tv21TV Century 21
From: 23 January, 1965
To: 6 September, 1969
Duration: 4 years, 7 months
Issues: 242
Absorbed: TV Tornado
Relaunched as: TV 21 & Joe 90

The clunky title — so chosen because the comic featured strips based on the Gerry and Sylvia Anderson puppet-starring TV shows — was renamed TV 21 from #155 (Jan 1968), then TV 21 and TV Tornado from #192 (Sep 1968). As I mentioned in my review of Countdown, TV Century 21 was presented as though it was a newspaper from the future, with each issue cover-dated one hundred years from the actual date.

smashSmash!
From: 5 February, 1966
To: 3 May, 1971
Duration: 5 years, 2 months
Issues: 265
Absorbed: Pow!, Fantastic
Absorbed into: Valiant

Smash! was a great comic. Anarchic, inventive, and even more game-changing than its older sibling Wham! Plus Grimly Feendish — the bad guy from Wham!’s “Eagle Eye, Junior Spy” — makes a reappearance here!

championChampion
From: 26 February, 1966
To: 4 June, 1966
Duration: 3 months
Issues: 15
Revival of: The Champion (1922)
Absorbed into: Lion

Arriving almost ten years after the demise of The Champion (see above), this version was a reboot in name only. It was presented as “the companion paper to Valiant,” the comic that later second-handedly absorbed Champion after it had already been absorbed by Lion. Ties with Scream! as the second shortest-lived publication in the Eagle timeline.

tvtornadoTV Tornado
From: 14 January, 1967
To: 14 September, 1968
Duration: 1 year, 8 months
Issues: 88
Absorbed: Solo
Absorbed into: TV Century 21

Yes, that’s Batman and Robin on the cover, along with Tarzan and Superman and many more. Another comic — following TV Century 21, which eventually consumed it — that was based on then-popular TV shows. My pet theory, which I’ve just invented, is that comics were losing out to TV in the “get kids’ attention” stakes so why not jump on the bandwagon?

powPow!
From: 21 January, 1967
To: 7 September, 1968
Duration: 1 year, 7 months
Issues: 86
Absorbed: Wham!
Absorbed into: Smash!

Yes, that is your one and only friendly neighbourhood Spider-Man on the cover of first issue of Pow! Excellent! Not so excellent is the free gift, a “Web-Centre Spider-Matic” gun that was, in fact, a cut-out piece of cardboard and a rubber band.

soloSolo
From: 1 February, 1967
To: 16 September, 1967
Duration: 7 months
Issues: 31
Absorbed into: TV Tornado

It’s a pretty safe guess that Solo was so titled in order to suggest an association with Napoleon Solo of the TV show The Man from U.N.C.L.E., a comic-strip adaptation of which appears in the comic — alongside adaptations of other TV shows.

fantasticFantastic
From: 18 February, 1967
To: 26 October, 1968
Duration: 1 year, 8 months
Issues: 89
Absorbed: Terrific
Absorbed into: Smash!

Unlike previous Odhams comics, this one had a much stronger focus on US Marvel reprints than on home-grown strips. I reviewed a Fantastic annual in the days before this blog, but lucky you: I’ve included it here!

Terrificterrific
From: 15 April, 1967
To: 3 February, 1968
Duration: 9 months
Issues: 43
Absorbed into: Fantastic

The last of the Odhams “Power Comics” line, and the shortest-lived by some margin (the second-shortest-lived, Pow!, lasted twice as long).

jagJag
From: 4 May, 1968
To: 29 March, 1969
Duration: 10 months
Issues: 48
Absorbed into: Tiger

Jag was launched as a tabloid-sized comic, then shrunk to standard IPC size with issue #43 (22 Feb 1969). This was the third of IPC’s “Big Cat” series, and sadly the shortest-lived: it didn’t even get to absorb a comic called Champion.

joe90topsecretJoe 90 Top Secret
From: 18 January, 1969
To: 6 September, 1969
Duration: 7 months
Issues: 34
Relaunched as: TV 21 & Joe 90

Joe 90 was the first Gerry Anderson TV show I ever saw, so this comic would have been perfect for me, especially given that it had Star Trek strips, too. Sadly, by the time I was aware of Joe 90 and Star Trek, this comic was long gone.

tv21joe90TV 21 & Joe 90
From: 27 September, 1969
To: 25 September, 1971
Duration: 2 years
Issues: 105
Relaunch of: TV Century 21, Joe 90 Top Secret
Absorbed into: Valiant

I pondered about this for a long time. Should it be considered a continuation of TV Century 21, which by then had been renamed TV 21, the same name to which this one reverted from issue from #37 (6 Jun 1970)? Or is it a separate comic entirely, as the re-started numbers suggest? I opted for the latter, but I’m willing to listen to arguments for the contrary. And, indeed, by the contrary.

scorcherScorcher
From: 10 January, 1970
To: 5 October, 1974
Duration: 4 years, 8 months
Issues: 248
Absorbed: Score ‘n’ Roar
Absorbed into: Tiger

Football comic. I’m sure this was a lot of kids’ favourite comic, but you know that animated gif of Alan Partridge shrugging about something that holds no interest for him? That’s me, that is.

scoreroarScore ‘n’ Roar
From: 19 September, 1970
To: 26 June, 1971
Duration: 9 months
Issues: 41
Absorbed into: Scorcher

Although it presented itself as “Two Great Football Comics in One!” this was never actually an amalgamated comic, just like Whizzer and Chips and Shiver and Shake (both of which were also IPC titles, belonging to the Buster timeline). The title was simplified to Score from issue #34 (8 May 1971).

thunderThunder
From: 17 October, 1970
To: 12 March, 1971
Duration: 4 months
Issues: 22
Absorbed into: Lion

Another of IPC’s “Hatch, Match and Dispatch” titles as mandated by Those Who Sit Above In Shadow: Quickly launch a new title — sometimes with very little preparation– designed to scoop up a bunch of new readers, then if the title’s not quite successful enough merge it with another, and hopefully bring the new readers along. Occasionally, these sacrificial comics were a lot better than a cynic might expect, even if they didn’t last all that long… I’ve recently taken an in-depth look at Thunder.

battleBattle Picture Weekly
From: 8 March, 1975
To: 23 January, 1988
Duration: 12 years, 10 months
Issues: 664
Absorbed: Valiant, Action
Absorbed into: Eagle (1982)

Also known as Battle-Action, Battle, Battle Action Force and Battle Storm Force… Sure, the 1950s Eagle was good stuff (largely) and pointed the way out of the darkness and towards the modern era, but Battle really led the charge: it was the proper granddaddy of modern British comics. For a brief but massively entertaining history of Battle, see Uncle Rusty’s article on branding.

vulcanVulcan
From: 27 September, 1975
To: 3 April, 1976
Duration: 6 months
Issues: 28
Absorbed into: Valiant

I clearly recall getting the very first issue of Vulcan and being mightily impressed with it. I didn’t realise for a long time that all of its strips were reprints! But look at the quality: Mytek the Mighty, The Trigan Empire, The Steel Claw, Robot Archie… top stuff there!

actionAction
From: 14 February, 1976
To: 12 November, 1977
Duration: 1 year, 8 months
Issues: 86
Absorbed into: Battle Picture Weekly

Famously, issue #37 (23 Oct 1976) of Action was withdrawn from sale and the comic put on hiatus. It returned — heavily edited and with its violence greatly toned down (some strips did not return) — at the end of November 1976 (cover dated 4 Dec 1976). It puttered along for another year before it was absorbed into Battle.

speedSpeed
From: 23 February, 1980
To: 25 October, 1980
Duration: 8 months
Issues: 31
Absorbed into: Tiger

I remember rather enjoying this one at the time, but the only strip I can recall now is “Death Wish.” Not the movie where Charles Bronson battles Jeff Goldblum on a subway train but a strip about a stuntman who’s been badly scarred in an accident. He becomes absolutely reckless because he no longer cares whether he lives or dies. Heady stuff for a kids’ comic!

eaglev2Eagle (1982)
From: 27 March, 1982
To: 1 January, 1994
Duration: 11 years, 9 months
Issues: 505
Revival of: Eagle (1950)
Absorbed: Tiger, Battle Picture Weekly, Scream!, M.A.S.K., Wildcat

The revived version of Eagle that’s rather more fondly remembered than I’d have guessed back when it first showed up. Not that I didn’t like it at the time… but I was sixteen (I started my first full-time job a week after this issue’s cover-date) and it felt too young for me. Looking back now, there’s a lot more it got right than wrong. Maybe not the “Glamorous Teacher” feature, but some of the strips were great. Sadly, Eagle really didn’t age with the readers the way 2000AD did. A few years along it caught a dose of the reprints, and then it went monthly from May 1991 — a sure sign that it was on the way out.

screamScream!
From: 24 March, 1984
To: 30 June, 1984
Duration: 3 months
Issues: 15
Absorbed into: Eagle (1982)

A horror-themed title that had a stake rammed through its heart by industrial action. Although Scream!’s life was far too short, it’s highly sought-after these days.

maskM.A.S.K.
From: 25 October, 1986
To: 22 October, 1988
Duration: 2 years
Issues: 80
Absorbed into: Eagle (1982)

A comic I’ve never read, adapted from an animated show that I’ve never seen, which was based on toys that I don’t remember. Apparently the title is an acronym for “Mobile Armoured Strike Kommand” and because I grew up reading British comics, I know that you replace a hard C with a K when you want to give the impression that a character, object or organisation is German in origin. Am I right? I’ll check Wikipedia! Back in a second… No, I was wrong. Never mind.

wildcatWildcat
From: 22 October, 1988
To: 25 March, 1989
Duration: 5 months
Issues: 12
Absorbed into: Eagle (1982)

This, the very last of the Eagle timeline titles to be launched, was a fortnightly science fiction comic with a very intriguing premise — all of the stories are connected — but it sadly didn’t take off. It has the dishonour of being the title with the lowest issue-count in this entire timeline (the first entry, Comic Cuts, has the highest issue-count, with two hundred and fifty and a half times as many issues). On the other paw, however, Wildcat does have a secret heritage… probably by coincidence (but let’s pretend it was done on purpose) its name harks back to some other IPC titles in the timeline: Lion, Tiger and Jag.


And that’s yer lot. Again, do please let me know if you can correct anything here!


10 thoughts on “The Eagle Timeline

  1. This one of the coolest graphs on the interweb. I scoured the graph and wondered what was the longest continuous chain of comics, including mergers. There is actually a chain that goes from the very beginning to the very end: Comic Cuts starts in 1890 and merges with Knock-Out in 1953; that merges with Valiant in 1963; which merges with Battle in 1976; which merges with Eagle in 1988; which finally ends in 1994. So an avid comic reader could have started in 1890 and if he/she stayed with the comic through various mergers, could have kept on collecting for 104 years until 1994! In an alternative world, that avid comic reader would be me.

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  2. Brilliant work as usual Mike. I wondered if you’re aware of the “Merry-Go-Round” connection with Eagle. It appeared in the indicia as “Eagle Magazine with which is incorporated “The Merry-Go-Round”. No, I can’t help you but suspect this might have been discussed by others!

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