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How to See

Richard Bell’s nature diary,  Monday,  15th June 2009

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How to See and the Phantom Fleet

YESTERDAY in the shop at Brantwood I was delighted to see that there’s now a sequel to the Ruskin Comic How to be Rich, drawn by Hunt Emerson and written by Kevin Jackson and based on Ruskin’s Unto this Last.


The latest edition, How to See is equally funny, thought-provoking and as relevant to us today as when Ruskin first put forward his ideas.

The Phantom Fleet

I’ve just read The Phantom Fleet by Frank Hampson and Don Harley (and their team), the latest in a reprint of the entire Dan Dare, Pilot of the Future comic strips which were in their heyday in my childhood in the 1950s. This story appeared in the Eagle in 1958 and I realise from the dates of the originals that I must have started reading the comic at the time of my seventh birthday.


It’s great to revisit the story 50 years later. What you don’t get when you read the strip in a single volume is the suspense and surprise of the weekly instalments. You also miss out on the smell and texture of freshly printed colour photogravure. It’s difficult now, surrounded as we are by so many vibrantly colourful images, to imagine the impact of The Eagle dropping through the letterbox with my parent’s Daily Mail on a Wednesday morning.


Dare’s discovery of the Phantom Fleet, floating mysteriously in an obscure corner of the solar system has lingered with me. The alien ships closely resembled the Atomium at Expo 58, the Brussels World Fair, so there was a feeling that this story was hovering on the edge of what could be reality.