1950s British Science Fiction videocast celebrates John Russell Fearn’s best SF work

Across the Ages By John Russell Fearn, writing as Vargo Statten

The latest episode of the excellent videocast series 1950s British Science Fiction focuses on a single novel by John Russell Fearn, writing as Vargo Statten, regarded by author, editor, literary agent and publisher Philip Harbottle as his best.

Phil is not alone in his view. Across the Ages, published as a UK paperback in 1952 by Scion Ltd, with a cover by Norman Light, had already appeared in the US before its arrival here.

It was subsequently re-published in numerous foreign editions, all of which Phil has tracked down, including a graphic novel version,”A travers les ages”, in French, first published in 1975, the artist, sadly, uncredited.

Across the Ages By John Russell Fearn, writing as Vargo Statten
A page from the 1975 French graphic novel “A travers Les ages”
A page from the 1975 French graphic novel “A travers Les ages”

Detailing both publication and story, Phil once again offers some fascinating background to 1950’s SF, and his continued enjoyment and love of his subject matter gently evident throughout the videocast.

He also shares some pages of his own graphic adaptation of Fearn’s story, drawn as a school boy, which are a delight. Phil drew the strip over a number of years, completing it after Fearn’s untimely death in 1960, aged just 52. Do give it a watch.

John Russell Fearn in 1960
John Russell Fearn in 1960, shortly before his untimely death aged just 52

Philip Harbottle is a life-long science fiction fan, regarded as a world authority on the works of John Russell Fearn, whose credits encompass writing “Garth” for the Daily Mirror, and the “Golden Amazon” for Spaceship Away (adapting Fearn’s stories). He’s also very kindly contributed a number of synopses of early “Garth” stories to downthetubes, which we are adding as time permits.

Back in the 1950s, he adapted some of the Radio Luxembourg Dan Dare radio shows into comics at a young age – the only record of some of these tales known to exist, since very few recordings survive.

Find the 1952 edition of Across the ages on AmazonUK (Affiliate Link)

Subscribe to 1950s British Science Fiction YouTube Channel here

• Check out books written or edited by Philip Harbottle on AmazonUK (Affiliate Link)

Buy an edition of The Whispering Gorilla & Return of the Whispering Gorilla published by Armchair Fiction and Music in 2014 (AmazonUK Affiliate Link)

The founder of downthetubes, John works as a comics editor, writer, as Creative Consultant on the Dan Dare audio adventures for B7 Media, and on promotional work for the Lakes International Comic Art Festival. Working in British comics publishing for over 30 years, his credits include editor of titles such as Doctor Who Magazine, Star Trek Magazine and Babylon 5 Magazine. He also edited the comics anthology STRIP Magazine and edited several audio comics for ROK Comics. He has also edited several comic collections, including volumes of “Charley’s War and “Dan Dare”. He’s the writer of “Crucible”, a creator-owned project with 2000AD artist Smuzz, published on Tapastic; and “Death Duty” and “Skow Dogs” with Dave Hailwood for digital comic 100% Biodegradable.

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