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JOHN DRAKE

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Full Name: John Drake
Series Name: Danger Man, Secret Agent
Nationality: British
Organization: NATO
Occupation Agent

Creator: Ralph Smart
Time Span: 1960 - 2019

ABOUT THE SERIES

       John Drake is an agent with NATO and later with M9.
       His nationality is a bit confusing, at least the part he reveals, because for a while in his earlier career as a roving agent with NATO, he once refered to himself as Irish-American but later, when he was lured away to work for the branch of British Intelligence known as M9, he was clearly a British subject though he continued to be proud of his Irish roots. It is likely both are true as having one parent from America and another from the UK would have worked, especially if his actual birth took place in the States.
       Regardless of his original nationality or dual-citizenship, John Drake is a man of the world having seen more places in his many years in the clandestine services that most of us have even heard of. No one continent is his territory, even when working for NATO he went far away from the member countries. Once he went to work for M9, the travel got even wider range. He must have enjoyed it, though, because he seldom complained and he certainly kept at it.
       When his first recorded cases happened, Drake was in his very early 30s. That being in 1960, he would have been too young for service in WWII but a very good age for the Korean War. At one point he admitted he had not gone to college so it is not too much of a stretch to assume he did serve in that conflict and it is likely that his exploits therein got him noticed. Whether he was in Intelligence in the military or recruited by NATO after he mustered out, he joined that organization not too long afterwards as he had already been in NATO's employ for some time. This latter is based on his experience and his skill in the first recorded cases which clearly show he was no novice.
       He was still, though, fairly idealistic and liked to look for the good in people. This is not implying any naivete as that word would never fit Drake probably at any time in his adult life. He is far too sophisticated and smooth to be so labeled. But he clearly expected better of many of the people with whom he dealt and those he brought to justice met with considerable dislike from him. After his service with NATO ended and he joined M9 he was not nearly as ready to think well of his fellow man. A certain cynicism had unfortunately entered his life. Considering the double dealing and the evil he witnessed, it is not surprising.
       Drake has always been a loner. In virtually no case recorded did he work closely with anyone for very long. He relied on his own abilities to get him out of any scrapes and considering the many he had and survived, that showed confidence instead of conceit. He had no steady romantic interests. Clearly a pretty woman or two caught his eye during his assignments but his steadfast dedication to duty did not allow him time to indulge when he was on duty and he seemed to be almost always on duty.
       Despite his constant facing of danger and the threats to his life, Drake held firmly to his distinct dislike of guns. He could use them if he had to, which he did on a couple of occasions, but he never wanted to nor did he enjoy it. His attitude towards firearms was simple - they were loud and they hurt people. He preferred to use his own hands to disable opponents and he was very good with the martial arts so his anti-gun bias seldom caused trouble.
       Drake's unofficial codename was Danger Man and over the course of a hundred recorded assignments, he proved his deserving of it many times over.

BOOKS

Number of Books:6
First Appearance:1962
Last Appearance:1966

       The six books that chronicle further adventures of John Drake, Danger Man/Secret Agent, are all original works by several highly experienced espionage writers. Understanding that the writers were limited greatly to what they are could do with the character, nevertheless, they are good stories and worth reading.
       One mark against them, though, is the fact that because they were written by different authors with understandably different takes on the character, the thoughts and responses of Drake to events varies greatly so it is best to gloss over these parts.
       It should be noted that only the first, Target for Tonight, concerns Drake during his NATO days. The others deal with him while he worked for M9.

NOVELLAS AND SHORT STORIES

Number of Stories:36
First Appearance:1961
Last Appearance:1966
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YOUNG ADULT BOOKS

Number of Books:3
First Appearance:1965
Last Appearance:1966

1 Danger Man Television Story Book Danger Man Television Story Book
Written by Unknown
Copyright: 1965

A compilation of 5 stories complete with illustrations. The stories were:
1. Troubhe In Paradise
2. Gold Hat
3. Drake Takes A Bow
4. The Nap Hand
5. The Girl From M.6
Also in the book was a feature: How Observant Are You?.

2 Danger Man Annual 1966 Danger Man Annual 1966
Written by Unknown
Copyright: 1965

A collection of 6 short stories, 3 features, and 2 games as well as many illustrations by Walter Howarth.
The stories are:
1. The Big Catch
2. Night Train To Rome
3. Traitor's Gate
4. Drake's Big Beat
5. The House On 22nd Street
6. The Temple
The features are:
1. The Code Crackers
2. Half A Million In A World Spy Ring
3. The Silver Greyhounds
The games are:
1. Beat this Danger Man Code
2. Espionage

3 Danger Man Annual 1967 Danger Man Annual 1967
Written by Unknown
Copyright: 1966

A collection of 9 short stories and 1 feature article.
The stories are:
1. The Big Splash
2. No Medals for the General
3. The Silver Ring
4. Smoked Out
5. Smugglers' Cove
6. Countdown
7. Dead On Nine
8. Payoff on the Frontier
9. Playback
The feature was:
1. Moses Was The First Spy King - a look at espionage through the ages, starting with Moses who sent spies into Canaan.

MOVIES

Number of Movies:1
First Appearance:1968
Last Appearance:1968

       The final two episodes of Danger Man, meant for the aborted fourth season, were put together into a tv movie which was also released around the world as a movie.

1 Koroshi Koroshi
Released: 1968

Combination of the last two episodes of the television series. John Drake heads to Japan where rumors of a murder are just the beginning of a bigger plot.

TELEVISION


Number of Episodes:86
First Appearance:1960
Last Appearance:1967
Network:ITV (UK)

REGULAR CAST
Patrick McGoohanJohn Drake [ All ]

       In 1960 spy stories were coming into their own, although they had yet to hit the big screen as hard as they soon would. Wishing to capitalize on the new-found popularity, indeed being still a bit ahead of the curve, the British television developer, ATV, asked writer/producer/director Ralph Smart to come up with a storyline. He dreamed up John Drake.
       At first, Drake was likely to have worked for the British Secret Service but wanting to appeal to both sides of the ocean and worrying that the American audience would not take to a British spy (boy, were they wrong!). Smart chose to have his hero work for NATO.
       The series actually came out in two sections. The first, titled Danger Man, consisted of 30-minute episodes and ran for just one season (39 episodes from September, 1960 to January, 1962). While the show was popular in Britain, in America it ran as a summer replacement from April to September of 1962 which meant only some of the episodes were shown, depriving the States of a chance to get to know how good the series really was.
       The reception it received in Britain and in much of Europe, however, was strong enough to convince the producers to revive the series, with changes. The new series was still called Danger Man in Britain but was renamed Secret Agent for the States. It ran 2 seasons from October, 1964 to January, 1968. These 47 shows were 60 minutes in length and featured more action and deeper plots than the earlier show allowed. They also had, in America, one heckuva cool title song that reached #3 on the Billboard charts in 1966 for Johnny Rivers.
       The actor chosen to play John Drake was Patrick McGoohan, who had come to the producer's attention previously. The choice was a good one for Mr. McGoohan took ownership of the character immediately and put his own stamp on the style of the show. His insistence that the agent be of high standards and great honor helped keep him popular decades later.
       Still, it was Mr. McGoohan's choice that the series come to an end. Production had just started on a 4th season when he approached the producers with a desire to be released from his contract as he had tired of the character. Reluctantly, they closed things down.

COMIC BOOKS AND GRAPHIC NOVELS

Number of Stories:13
First Appearance:1961
Last Appearance:1966

       The first to produce a comic about John Drake, aka Danger Man or later Secret Agent, was Dell Comics, a leader at that time in producing original works based on other people's intellectual property, licensed of course. This issue was part of its Four Color series which contained hundreds of different titles.
       Next came a comic from the UK, another solo issue containing an impressive 68 pages and from yet another comic company, a two-issue set having a still impressive 48 pages.
       Finally, Gold Key released two comics in 1966 under the tag line of Secret Agent.
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GAMES

Number of Games:6
First Appearance:1965
Last Appearance:1967

1 Danger Man Danger Man
Boardgame
Bells
Copyright: 1960

"Enemy agents set out to sabotage important installations in different countries. Danger Man, working under cover, has been instructed to frustrate their efforts and, if possible, capture them."
Object of the game: Agents attempt to carry out certain acts of sabotage and avoid capture by placing correct Sabotage and Getaway cards. Danger Man (whose identity is not known to the other players) tries to prevent the crimes and capture the agents.

2 The Danger Man Jigsaws The Danger Man Jigsaws
Jigsaw Puzzle
Tower Press
Copyright: 1965

A series of 4 jigsaws puzzles with 320 pieces that also measured 17 1/2 by 11 3/8 inches. Each of them have artwork by famous artist Walter Howarth. The 4 puzzles are as follows;
1. The River Chase - Depicts a chase scene on the river from the Danger Man series.
2. Trouble At The Hotel - Depicts a fight scene between John Drake (Patrick McGoohan) and some other men.
3. A Dangerous Moment - Depicts John Drake (Patrick McGoohan) in a car being chased by an airplane with his gun ready to fire.
4. The Rooftop Adventure - Depicts a scene on a rooftop where John Drake (Patrick McGoohan) and a woman are hiding from the bad guys.

3 Beat This Danger Man Code Beat This Danger Man Code
Code Breaking
World Distributors Limited
Copyright: 1965

From the pages of Danger Man Annual 1966. Break the cipher to reveal the hidden message.

4 Espionage Espionage
Boardgame
World Distributors Limited
Copyright: 1965

From the pages of Danger Man Annual 1966. A game for two or more players. Roll a single die to move along the track. Must throw a 6 to start and must roll an exact number to finish. First to finish wins.

5 John Drake Secret Agent Game John Drake Secret Agent Game
Boardgame
Milton Bradley
Copyright: 1966

For ages 10 to adult. 2-4 players compete in the game where agents must retrieve a briefcase and get it back to HQ.

6 The Secret Agent Game The Secret Agent Game
Boardgame
D. C. Thomson & Co. Ltd.
Copyright: 1967

Subtitled "- or catch yourself a villain". From the pages of Diana For Girl 1968 Annual. Six can play this game of spies, other items needed are dice and discs of cardboard with images of the Agents. Select your favorite Agent from John Steed & Emma Peel (The Avengers), James Bond, John Drake (Danger Man) or Napoleon Solo and Illya Kuryakin (The Man From U.N.C.L.E.). Then each player is ready to set out after the villains. The villains are Odd Job (worth 3 Points), Rosa Klebb (worth 6 Points) and Emilio Largo (worth 10 Points). Games is played in 5 rounds and the agent with the highest score is the winner.
The Secret Agent used are pictures as follows;
David McCallum as Illya Kuryakin (The Man From U.N.C.L.E.) Agent 1 & 1st Row
Diana Riggs as Emma Peel (The Avengers) Agent 2 & 1st Row
Sean Connery as James Bond (Agent 007) Agent 3 & 1st Row
Patrick McGoohan as John Drake (Danger Man) Agent 4 & 2nd Row
Robert Vaughn as Napoleon Solo (The Man From U.N.L.E.) Agent 5 & 2nd Row
Patrick Macnee as John Steed (The Avengers) Agent 6 & 2nd Row.
The 3 Villains used are picture as follows;
Harold Sakata as Odd Job (Goldfinger's Henchman) Villain 1
Lotta Lenya as Rosa Klebb (From Russia With Love) Villain 2
Adolfo Celi as Emilio Largo (From the film Thunderball) Villain 3

COLLECTIBLES

Number of Collectibles:1
First Appearance:1960
Last Appearance:1962

1 Danger Man Bubble Gum Cards Danger Man Bubble Gum Cards
Trading Cards
Somportex
Copyright: 1960

According to Danger-Man.co.uk, this series consisted of 72 collectible cards, each card having a black and white scene from the television shows and a description on the back forming a story. At their site, you can see all the individual images as well as read the texts for each.

REFERENCE BOOKS

Number of Books:2
First Appearance:2017
Last Appearance:2019

1 Hero-A-Go-Go! Hero-A-Go-Go!
Written by Michael Eury
Copyright: 2017

This book is subtitled "Campy Comic Books, Crimefighters & Culture Of The Swinging Sixties." It mentions and gives details on a number of Spy Series within! Welcome to the Camp Age when spies liked their wars cold and their women warm and good guys beat bad guys with a pun and a punch. Celebrate the Camp Craze of the Swinging Sixties when just about everyone was a secret agent.

2 Danger Man: The Series Danger Man: The Series
Written by Scott V. Palmer
Copyright: 2019

A reference for the TV show that provides information about all episodes, cast members and other important stuff to know.

MY COMMENTS

       The six books that chronicle further adventures of John Drake, Danger Man/Secret Agent, are all original works by several highly experienced espionage writers. Understanding that the writers were limited greatly to what they are could do with the character, nevertheless, they are good stories and worth reading.
       One mark against them, though, is the fact that because they were written by different authors with understandably different takes on the character, the thoughts and responses of Drake to events varies greatly so it is best to gloss over these parts.

GRADE

My Grade: A-

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