Dan Dare comic artist Greta Tomlinson has passed away.
Greta Tomlinson’s diary gave an indication of how hard she had to work as an illustrator on the Eagle magazine from 1950. “Monday. Worked till 3am. Tuesday. Worked till 5am. Wednesday. Worked all night. Thursday. Worked till 3am (given the rest of the day off).”
Within a minute of arriving at the lean-to former bakehouse in Southport, Merseyside, which served as the Eagle’s office, the recent graduate of the Slade School of Fine Art saw drawings of a comic strip called Dan Dare and knew she had to have the job. “The front page of the Eagle was on the board. I fell in love with it. I had to have the job.”
Greta Edwards (nee Tomlinson) was born in Burnley Lancashire. She studied at Burnley Art School and the Slade School of Fine Art in Oxford and London, graduating in 1949. Seeking work, she applied for a job advertised in the Advertisers Journal, which proved to be working for Frank Hampson’s studio on EAGLE, which was then still in development.
She was taken on and originally paid £4 10s a week. Initially based in an old lean-to bakehouse in Churchtown, Southport, Hampson’s small team produced “Dan Dare”, “Rob Conway”, “Tommy Walls” and “The Life of St. Paul” for the early issues of the forthcoming weekly. As a figure artist, Greta originally drew figures which Frank Hampson would then use to develop the characters, but as this was a long process, photo reference began to be used and in addition to her other work on the strips, Greta became the model for the principal female character, Professor Peabody.
Greta was part of the Frank Hampson Studio from 1950 to 1953.
When Hampson fell ill in the summer of 1952, she and Harold Johns produced the art for the “Marooned on Mercury” storyline, from scripts written by Chad Varah. She and Johns were sacked in 1953 for moonlighting on other comics, despite having previously cleared it with Marcus Morris. She later worked in fashion and advertising, before marrying Richard Edwards, who worked for BP, and moving to Iraq with him. She became the local rep for the Elizabeth Arden cosmetics company, and the couple had their only child, Francesca, in Baghdad. They spent some time in Iran and Kuwait before returning to England in 1969, settling in Haslemere, Surrey. She still paints and draws, and has been exhibited in many galleries.