Dan Dare - The Hardware


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While most of the ideas for the 'hardware' featured in the Dan Dare adventures originated with Frank Hampson, (with some input from Arthur C Clarke and Chad Varra), the actual realization of this hardware, in terms of visualization, was the work of Bruce Cornwell, which is why his contribution to the Dan Dare strip is so important.

Bruce Cornwell

Arthur Bruce Cornwell was the son of Arthur Redfern Cornwell, an English architect and draughts-man, and his Scottish wife Margaret C. Cornwell.
Bruce was born in Canada, but the family relocated to California, in October 1923 where Arthur Cornwell became a naturalized citizen in 1924 and worked for the film industry.
A second son, John, was born in California in 1927.
After growing up in Long Beach and Culver City, Bruce Cornwell came to England at the age of 15, accompanying his father who worked in the mid-1930s as an assistant art director for London Film Studios at Denham Studio, Buckinghamshire.

Bruce Cornwell
Bruce Cornwell studied art at Regent Street Polytechnic in London and the Académie Julian in Paris.
As an American citizen, he was not called up during the war but joined the Merchant Navy, transporting supplies to beleaguered Britain in U-Boat infested waters.
After the war, Cornwell established himself as a technical and general illustrator, working for women's and engineering magazines.
However, the wartime paper shortage had forced magazines to slim down considerably and Cornwell, who had married Peggy Brenda Huggins in 1941, and had a young son, sought out regular work, responding to an advertisement in a trade paper.
A badly printed reply outlining the duties came from Southport; unimpressed, Cornwell consigned the form to the bin.
A few days later he received an irate phone call from the Reverend Marcus Morris asking why he had not replied.
Bruce sent over some samples and was offered a job.

The team assembled by Frank Hampson was working flat-out to complete the early episodes of Dan Dare and Cornwell's talent for technical drawing meant he was usually called upon to draw the strips spaceships which filled the early episodes.
After only a few months Cornwell left: 
"Frank started questioning my technical skills and that was where I dug my heels in ... Even moving us to a room over a pub down the street didn't ease the situation. We were sacked. I was pleased, as the prospect of putting up with that programme for an indefinite period filled me with horror !"
To ease pressure, Hampson and his team were moved to Epsom and Cornwell was invited to rejoin, promising that things would improve.
"In the end I gave in. But it was the same as before; crazy hours, no time off and a massive work load.

'Spaceship Away !'
Eventually, the hours, travelling and stress of the whole thing was too much and I became ill. My doctor told me to have a rest and I asked Frank for some holiday time. His reply was that he was ill too, and if he couldn't have time off, I couldn't either. I went back home that night and didn't come back."
On his return from holiday, Cornwell discovered a letter had been delivered telling him that he was fired.
Following Hampson's departure from 'Dan Dare', Cornwell was tempted back to assist Don Harley on the strip.
In recent years he had produced a number of illustrations for the excellent Dan Dare magazine 'Spaceship Away !'.
Sadly, Bruce died on 2 March 2012.

click below for more information about

Dan Dare's Personal Spaceship Anastasia
(designed by Sondar and named after Digby's great aunt)
(adapted from 'Spaceships Away')

© Copyright Zac Sawyer 2015

(adapted from 'Spaceships Away')
© Copyright Zac Sawyer 2015


© Copyright Zac Sawyer 2015

more 'hardware', (including full size cut-aways) coming soon.......

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