After last year's uninspiring Eagle Annual: The Best Of The 1950s Comic, its sequel Best of the 1960s Comic has been put on hold to 2009 and this year's offering from Orion is the unwieldily entitled The Eagle Annual Of The Cutaways edited by Daniel Tatarsky.
Despite them being trimmed at either end due to their length, they are superb reproductions.
Unfortunately when he describes the idea of setting Dan Dare's Space Fleet HQ in Formby on the Lancashire coast as being "simply very funny", that a "shopping mall, yes, a centre for engineering, design, military and scientific excellence, don't be daft..." he obviously is unaware that such a centre is barely five miles from Formby at Warton where English Electric designed, manufactured and flew the Canberra bomber in those early days of Eagle and where, today, BAE Systems are doing the same for its modern equivalent, the Typhoon.
What little information there is here on the artists, bar a mention of him having had "tentative dealings" with cutaway artist John Batchelor, appears to show that he has read Steve Holland's biography of Leslie Ashwell-Wood on Bear Alley and Will Grenham's piece on the cutaway artists on Eagle-Times, yet he neglects to mention by name over two thirds of those artists, including many whose work appears in the book.
Perhaps the most interesting of these are the futuristic ones which include Ashwell-Wood's version of a Channel Tunnel on pages 48 and 49 and Gordon Davies' 10000mph Atomic Airliner on pages 54 and 55.
However, I can't tell you which page it is on because by this point, the book has abandoned its page numbering, which is one of the greatest drawbacks of the book. With no page numbers on most of the last third of the book, there is no way of indexing the illustrations and so no attempt has been made. While they may be in a vague chronological order between the 1950s and the 1960s, there aren't even any themes to the book where, for example, all the cars are together. As a consequence, there is no easy way of finding any given illustration in the book's 180-odd pages.
Perhaps the most annoying thing for fans of the original comic will be the lack of any attempt to date the art to the issue of the comic it came from. Although a few of the 1960s pages retain their dates this is more by good fortune than by design.
That said, if you are just buying the book for the art then it is a good purchase: but if you are buying the book as reference for the artists or their work, you will be disappointed.