Frank Hampson

Frank Hampson

Infobox comics creator
name =

imagesize = 150
caption =
birthname =
birthdate = birth date|1918|12|21
location = Audenshaw, near Manchester
deathdate = death date and age|1985|7|8|1918|12|21
deathplace = Surrey
nationality = British
area = Artist
alias =

notable works = "Dan Dare"
awards =
website =

Frank Hampson (21 December 1918 – 8 July 1985) was an illustrator and is best known for being the creator and artist of Dan Dare and other characters in the British boys' comic, the "Eagle", to which he contributed between 1950 and 1959. As well as creating and drawing the Dan Dare strip he also wrote the first two stories, the Venus story and the Red Moon story.


Hampson was born at 488 Audenshaw Road, Audenshaw, near to Manchester (now Tameside), and was educated at King George V School, a grammar school in Southport. His brother Eric was killed in the Second World War. In April 2006, his sister Margaret was still living in Southport, the town that Frank moved to when he was a young child.In 1949, in collaboration with Christian vicar, Rev. Marcus Morris, he devised a new children's magazine, the "Eagle", which Morris took to the Hulton Press. In April the following year, a revised and improved version of his "Eagle" hit the bookstalls. The strip that sold the magazine, which switched between 16 and 20 pages on alternate weeks, was Hampson's "Dan Dare, Pilot of the Future".

Following (some say) the ideas of Alex Raymond and Milton Caniff in the U.S., Hampson instigated a studio system where, from his home in Epsom, Surrey, as many as four artists might work on two pages of strip at any one time. The result was some incredibly detailed and inventive artwork, but also incredibly high bills. When Hulton Press was bought up in 1959, and the "Eagle" moved to a new publisher, Hampson's studio system was disbanded.

In retrospect he had but one last great strip to draw, "The Road of Courage", his carefully researched and meticulously crafted Life of Christ. This he achieved with the help of his longtime assistant, Joan Porter. This was timed to end at Easter 1961. Hampson then began to devise seven other strip cartoon ideas, which he intended to offer to the "Eagle". But partly through his own mismanagement (he told no-one what he was doing) Longacre Press accused him of breach of contract. He was forced to resign, his new strips were impounded by the legal department, and he rarely drew for comics again. The remainder of Hampson's life was spent working as a freelance commercial artist for various publications including Ladybird Books.

Hampson was voted "Prestigioso Maestro" at an international convention of strip cartoon and animated film artists held at Lucca in Tuscany in 1975. A jury of his peers gave him a "Yellow Kid Award" and declared him to be the best writer and artist of strip cartoons since the end of the Second World War. This accolade is all the more remarkable as his time at Eagle had lasted little more than ten years. He is quoted as saying: "War ended and I began".

In 1978 he graduated from the Open University. He celebrated by drawing a Dan Dare strip for the University's internal magazine. The punch line of the script involved the University getting an application from The Mekon.

In ailing health, Hampson died from a stroke and the lingering effects of throat cancer in July 1985, in Surrey, England.


* [ Frank Hampson] at Lambiek's Comiclopedia

External links

* [ Lost Characters of Frank Hampson]
* [ Biography of Frank Hampson]
* [ A complete history of Dan Dare and the Eagle comic at]
* [ The official Science Museum print website] containing a number of Dan Dare posters
* [ A Tribute to Frank Hampson]

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