Bear Alley Books is proud to announce the release of Eagles Over the Western Front, the classic story of aerial warfare set during the days of the R.F.C. Created by Mike Butterworth and Bill Lacey and serialised in the pages of Look and Learn in 1971-73, Eagles ran a magnificent 116 episodes. Now, for the first time in thirty years, the complete story will be available in three volumes to be published over the next three months—with two-thirds of the story scanned from surviving original art boards.
Bill Lacey's stunning artwork captures every terrifying moment as Harry Hawkes, the hero of Eagles Over the Western Front, joins the only recently founded Royal Flying Corps and, with only a few weeks training, is sent to France to fly scouting and observation missions over the enemy lines at Ypres.
By the time Harry arrives on the front, the British B.E.2c scouting planes have become "Fokker fodder" thanks to the German development of an interrupter gear that synchronized machine guns with the aircraft's propeller, which allows German pilots to fly their planes straight towards their target, firing through the propeller arc.
Harry eventually joins a squadron flying the Airco DH.2 in the era of aerial dogfights and faces some of his most challenging months as German ace Max Immelmann scores victory after victory against British pilots on his way to earning Germany's highest honour, the Pour le Mérite—the 'Blue Max'.
Author Mike Butterworth is better known for writing 'The Rise and Fall of the Trigan Empire', but his career began many years before as a scriptwriter and editor for the Amalgamated Press's Sun, where penned dozens of stories featuring historical characters (Billy the Kid, Dick Turpin, Robin Hood) as well as creating 'Max Bravo, the Happy Hussar' and 'Battler Britton'. For Comet he wrote authentic historical dramas as well as creating the science fiction adventurer 'Jet-Ace Logan'. Editorially he created the innovative Playhour Pictures, Valentine and the teenage magazine Honey. A prolific novelist, he wrote crime thrillers, bodice-rippers and historicals under a variety of pen-names.
Bill Lacey's first strips appeared in 1951, although the best of his early work appeared in the pages of Super Detective Library, where he was the original artist for Rick Random and Blackshirt. Lacey's work appeared in dozens of comics in the 1950s and 1960s, including Mickey Mouse Weekly, Cowboy Picture Library, Knockout, Express Weekly, Thriller Picture Library, Princess, Film Fun, Valiant, Buster, Tiger and Lion; during this time his strips ranged from adaptations of western novels such as 'The Covered Wagon' to weird fantasy classics like 'Mytek the Mighty'. In the 1970s he drew extensively for Look and Learn and for a number of D. C. Thomson's boys' papers, Bullet, Crunch and Buddy.
"While you would expect a comic strip about a fighter pilot to involve our hero jumping in his plane and flying off to shoot down many of the enemy before returning safely home, in Eagles, especially in the early stories, the reason for our hero not to make it back to base is more often because of mechanical failure of the aircraft he is flying rather than any enemy action against him. As for shooting down the enemy, it is a plot point in at least two of the stories in Volume 1 that Harry has not actually shot down a single German plane despite be considered a good pilot. It all makes for an ongoing story that is interesting in its non-conformity to the expected rules of an aviation comic strip and it certainly makes the reader think about the frailty of the planes that RFC pilots were flying back then without the safety of parachutes...
__"Eagles Over The Western Front Volume 1 makes for an interesting and sometimes thoughtful read without missing out on the excitement or entertainment that one would expect of a good comic strip of its era. With more than half of all the pages in this book and its two sequels being scanned from the original art boards, the artwork quality is as good as it can possibly get and shows that Bear Alley Books can give well established companies, that are also reprinting similar B&W British comic strips from the era, a run for their money."—Jeremy Briggs, Down the Tubes
Eagles Over the Western Front volume 1 is published in A4 saddle-stitch format, 80 pages b/w with a stunning wraparound cover by Graham Coton.
Published on 12 May 2011. Available now.
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(* Eagles Over the Western Front © Look and Learn Ltd.)