Poem: ‘Dan Dare at the Cosmos Ballroom’

John Hartley Williams

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Dan Dare was a spaceman comic hero of the 1950s, invented by the artist Frank Hampson, and first published in the Eagle. His faithful assistant was Digby. Peabody was the ship’s biologist. There was also a radio serial broadcast on Radio Luxembourg, but listening to 208 medium wave was very frustrating, reception was so bad.

The Mekon was leader of the Treens, the inhabitants of Venus. He was, as described in the poem, a large head and nothing else, all evil brain. The Treens otherwise looked lankily humanoid except for their green colour and ugly faces. The derivation of Treens, one imagines, is from the word latrines; a very Second World War sort of a word, somehow. The Treens used captured human beings as slaves – their appetite for nastiness modelled, no doubt, on Nazi, or Japanese, slave labour camps.

I have, of course, for satirical purposes, made Dan somewhat more reflective, and also given him a sexual being, none of which were part of the original. I hope that readers who cherish the memory of clean-cut boyhood heroes will not be offended by any of this.