Sydney's Biography

It was appropriate that Sydney Jordan was born in Dundee, the home of Desperate Dan, Korky the Cat and Jim and his Magic Patch.

Sydney in Sussex

Sydney in Sussex

Shortly before WW2, his family moved to Perth where he attended the Perth Academy and met Willie Patterson, his writing partner on Jeff Hawke many years later.

In 1942 Sydney’s father gave him a Christmas present, a copy of Palgrave’s Golden Treasury ‘the best songs and poetry in the English language’ recalls Jordan: six hundred pages of language and ideas. When he was asked to identify the influences which led to the Jeff Hawke ship, this introduction to poetry, augmented by the Scottish educational stress on literature, was the wellspring.

By 1945 Jordan left Scotland for the first time to attend Miles Aircraft’s newly established Technical School at Woodley, near Reading.  It was here that his school pal Willie Patterson joined him. As students they were given an understanding of aviation technology which would serve them well in the years to come.

Returning to Scotland in 1948, he joined the Strathmore Studio in Dundee.  The proprietors, Bill McCail and Len Fullerton were experienced illustrators who were able to help Sydney gain experience in working to tight deadlines and assisting in preparation of artwork for publication.

Len Fullerton was a brilliant wild life illustrator whose scraperboard art and writing for the Glasgow Bulletin was highly regarded. He also produced the life-like images and regarded it as essential for a ‘realistic ‘ feature. Under Fullerton’s pseudonym Nat Brand Fullerton illustrated many comic strips including ‘Argo Under the Ocean’ . Sydney contributed some drawings  for the full comic page, but Jordan’s first commissioned work was Dora, Tony and Liz, a ‘shop-girl’ story for a Scottish weekly. His attempt to create a cinematic look to his work was further aided by a study of Raymond’s line-work for his Rip Kirby detective strip which had started its long run in the Daily Mail.  

Jordan’s move to London began with a family holiday in 1952 He had done some work for Amalgamated Press (later Fleetway) and was carrying a folio of work to show an editor there, including his idea for a superhero clone.(!) As he stood admiringly a showcase displaying Tony Weare’s artwork for the Mickey Mouse Weekly’s called Billy Brave  at the entrance to an agency studio on the Strand/Fleet Street junction, he literally bumped into the Bayly-Souster Group’s luminaries who were looking for jobbing artists! Jordan regards this as an example of the kind of thing that neither money nor manipulation can buy—that ineffable moment when Lady Luck is in the giving vein as smiles upon the pilgrim.  They offered him a place in their agency where he met Jim Holdaway (Modesty Blaise) and now other well-known artists.

One of  Sydney’s first published works was a  comic (Dick Hercules), which portrayed a schoolboy hero who had achieved an enviably powerful body through physical training ( the comics were sponsoring gym equipment. Two years later, the Daily Express was running Jeff Hawke

When ( Sir) Max Aitkin saw the first images of an RAF pilot colliding with a flying saucer, the accuracy of the aircraft and uniforms rang bells for him. He had fought in the Battle of Britain and having asked that that hero lose the name Orian  as being too fanciful, settled for Jeff Hawke and persuaded his father, Lord Beaverbrook, to give it a trial run.

Jordan gradually eased his hero out of the restrictive persona of a cloaked crusader and after the first four stories the strip settled down to more realistic story lines informed by the contemporary advances in space flight and exploration, so much so that he anticipated the Moon landing to within two weeks of the actual date ten years before in 1959.

In 1956 Willie Patterson, his friend who shared their schooldays together, began to contribute ideas for stories and co-wrote on an ad hoc basis but by 1960, he was a full-time scriptwriter for the feature.


Wille Patterson

Sydney Jordan recalls that, once the characters were created, they began to take on a life of their own and this led to an understanding between him and Willie to lay down a specific structure covering the way in which each of the characters would act and talk, particularly with regard to the aliens. The trick was to keep their behaviour consistent without it becoming boring– and Willie’s answer to that was humour.

The partnership developed an in-joke by creating two characters to introduce each story. The creatures took on the shapes of Mephisto and the Troll. The Troll was Sydney and Mephisto  was Willie. The partnership came to an end with Willie’s health breaking down in 1969, He died in 1986.

From his first two stories co-written with Sydney, Willie went on to pen a further  thirty-six sagas during the course of their long co-operation.

On occasion Lord Beaverbrook was reported to have personally vetted the Jeff Hawke strip and Sydney was admitted to a  sense of satisfaction that the  great newspaper  baron was following his daily stories.

When Jeff Hawke first appeared in the Daily Express on February 15th 1954, it was described as ‘the first adult science –fiction strip in the UK’. Each day the intrepid RAF pilot, Wing Commander Jeff Hawke, encountered extraordinary characters and plots. During it’s run of twenty years the newspaper strip developed a following in the UK and Europe, Italy, Sweden, Germany, and Spain.The Italian publisher, Rizzoli Editore, Milano Lbri Edizioni, published the complete series of Jeff Hawke strips in a hardback edition, which is still in print. They also produced a website in tribute to Sydney Jordan's work. The science-fiction strip is still held in high-regard today and deserves to be better known in the UK.

In 1974, the Daily Express decided to cancel the strip. Looking back,  Sydney’s achievement  is impressive. The Italian fans regard this period as the ’Golden Age of Jeff Hawke’. Willie's imagination was the perfect match for Jordan's extraordinary vision.

Read about the story lines and see the images in Sydney's Storylines

Awards and recognition

Sydney and award

Sydney receiving award

The Grand Prix St.Michel (Brussels, Belgium).

The Grand Prix Alfred (Angouteme, France).

The Grand Prix Poesidon (Bologna, Italy).

The Society of Strip Illustrators (Great Britain).

Life Achievement Award ( Falconara, Italy).

Life Achievement Award ( Lucca, Italy).

The Haxtur Award (Gijon, Spain).