New 1950s British Science Fiction videocasts tackle “Mushroom Publishers” and the success of Vargo Statten Science Fiction Novels

There are two more episodes of the 1950s British Science Fiction to savour on YouTube from author, editor, literary agent and publisher Philip Harbottle, delving further into the marvels of post-World War Two SF in Britain.

In Episode 4, “1950: We Have Lift Off!“, Philip reveals how the Vargo Statten Science Fiction novels lit the touch paper for British Science Fiction Paperbacks. Look out for some eye catching covers by ace comics artist Ron Turner

1950: We Have Lift Off!

Philip follows up with “The Rivals of Vargo Statten“, in which he reveals how the “mushroom publishers” scramble to play follow-the-leader after Vargo Statten‘s success… with dubious results!

The Rivals of Vargo Statten

 “Vargo Statten” was one of author John Russell Fearn‘s aliases, and was to inspire the launch of the Vargo Statten Science Fiction magazine in 1954, because of his popularity.

The “mushroom publishers” Philip refers to published a huge range of titles in post war Britain – science fiction, hard-boiled mystery novels, and some pretty disreputable fiction of an “adult nature”.

Philip 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.

• Subscribe to 1950s British Science Fiction YouTube Channel here

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

• Spaceship Away: spaceshipaway.org

SF author Kristine Kathryn Rusch has an interesting feature, “Business Musings: Mushroom Publishers And The Tsunami of Crap” here

DOWNTHETUBES NEWS ITEMS

• John Russell Fearn’s SF, including Golden Amazon stories, back in print

• Dan Dare Fan Fiction – from the 1950s! | Revealed – The Dan Dare Radio Luxembourg Comic Strips by Philip Harbottle

• Garth: Character Profile and Story Synopses

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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