On this day, 8 April 1989: Eagle and Wildcat
On this day, 8 April 1989 … Wildcat had been a brave attempt to launch a different kind of comic (its stories were all linked, following the adventures of different survey teams from the same space ship on an exotic alien planet) into a tough, shrinking market. After just 12 fortnightly issues it was merged into Eagle. Turbo Jones and Kitten Magee were the Wildcat stories that made it into this, the first combined issue, and were greeted on the front cover by a hirsute, sweaty Dan Dare figure as equally terrifying as any of the alien life forms they had encountered to date. Wildcat’s other adventurers, Joe Alien and Loner, would join the comic within a few weeks, but of the four, only Loner survived as an Eagle regular for more than a handful of months.
Dan Dare, Doomlord and Computer Warrior were still running strong in Eagle in the final year of the 1980s. Storm Force – which had joined after the merge with Battle a year previously – was the other original strip, and the comic was completed by reprints of two classic Battle favourites, Charley’s War and Johnny Red. By now, Eagle, like most of the Fleetway Publications range, had a slightly-wider-than-A4 format which didn’t scale up from the traditional IPC tabloid size in which Charley and Johnny originally had been printed. When these reprints first started to appear they were noticeably and awkwardly vertically-stretched to fit the page. The editorial team’s solution to this problem was to run along the base of each page of these strips a feature called The Wall – essentially a pre-digital Twitter for which readers sent in their brief exclamations of commentary on life or messages for friends and family. There was a ten-week notice period before messages could appear, but as The Wall had started in early January 1989, there is a good chance that those shown here are from actual readers rather than made up by Eagle staff.