I was flicking through some old issues of Battle and came across this on the letters page of issue #429…
You would not believe the trials and tribulations I went through to find this. Having moved house twice in the last year I was frantically panicking that it must have accidentally been thrown out – but no! After tearing through boxes and piles and folders and more boxes of miscellaneous paperwork I found it. My treasured letter from no less a personage that the assistant EDITOR of EAGLE!
I was a serious-minded eleven year old, and whilst I don’t have a copy of my outgoing epistle, I suspect that it may have ran to many, many pages; a “long and interesting letter” indeed!
I recall trying to impress upon the Eagle team that whilst I was a big fan of John Gillatt’s work normally, his stint on ‘Dan Dare’ simply was not working. Blow me down if they didn’t write back to tell me they agreed with me!
4th March 1988
Thank you very much for your long and interesting letter concerning Eagle/Battle.
We do agree that the present artwork on Dan Dare leaves much to be desired. We thought that Cruz, the previous artists, might benefit from a spell away from Dan, but J. Gillatt has not settled down into getting a very good likeness. This was just an experiment that didn’t work.
We do have changes planned for Eagle/Battle in the future, so stay with us and see what you think of them. We do agree with your remarks concerning Robin Smith and Ortiz!
Thanks again for writing to us,
And stay with Eagle I did, right through the MASK, ‘RoadBlasters’, Wildcat and weekly-becomes-monthly years till the very last issue.
PS Checking up on the handy Comic Vine website, I see that Carlos Cruz completed his ‘Dan Dare’ run in issue #305 dated 23 January 1988; the next issue saw the merger of Eagle with stablemate Battle, and the start of John Gillatt’s stint on the Pilot of the Future. I must have sent my letter somewhere between then and the 5 March-dated issue, #311. My comments about José Ortiz (whose ‘Tower King’ had been a real highlight of the early days of Eagle MkII) and Robin Smith would have been wholly favourable, as I loved both ‘Survival’ and ‘Detective Zed’!
PPS If anyone can tell me who the kind-hearted soul who wrote me this reply is, I would be most grateful – it’s been more than 24 years of not quite being able to decipher that signature…