Here’s details of four more episodes of author, editor, literary agent and publisher Philip Harbottle’s brilliant video cast series 1950s British Science Fiction for you to savour, all offering fascinating snapshots of post World War Two British SF publishing. The latest, Episode 20, offers insight into the work of comic artist and illustrator Ron Turner.
Exploring the history of post-World War Two SF in Britain, Phil takes viewers on a wonderful adventure over the 1950s British Science Fiction videocasts released so far, produced by Phil’s granddaughter. Along the way, he’s told some of fascinating stories about the growth of SF publishing in the UK in the 1950s, and shared visuals of just some of his incredible collection of rare magazines published at the time.
These latest episodes were recorded a while back but have now been released in quick succession
In Episode 17, “Nova Science Fiction Novels”, Phil examines how the easing of paper rationing enabled, established publishers to begin issuing science fiction novels. Fans will enjoy spotting copies some of their favourite tales from Phil’s amazing, near pristine collection of books and magazines!
In Episode 18, “Gannet Press”, Phil pulls no punches in exposing “some of the worst 1950’s science fiction novels ever published”, offering some great commentary on their output!
Artist Roger M. Davis, who also worked for Scion Ltd, provided many covers for their books, including the covers and illustrations for both issues of Gannet’s horror magazine Weird World, and is profiled by Steve Holland here on Bear Alley.
However, while he may be cutting, Phil offers praise too, with Episode 19 titled “Eight of the Best Science Fiction Novels”, celebrating E.C.Tubb’s work for Milestone Publications, writing as ‘Charles Grey’, including Tormented City, which sounds fantastic from Phil’s video cast, and are worth tacking down in their original publication for their stunning Ron Turner covers alone, but Phil himself has reprinted some of these stories more recently, too.
This episode makes mention of the most recent representations, edited by Phil, from US publisher Bold Venture Press, who have released two stories in Tubb’s 1950’s ‘Charles Grey’ canon, The Wall and The Life Buyer as a single volume.
Mention of Ron Turner brings neatly to Episode 20, “The Tit-Bits Science Fiction Library”, in which Phil relates the story of some of the most collectible science fiction series of the 1950s, featuring stories written written by John Russell Fearn. Turner’s covers are standout on this series, and well worth tracking down. Seeing them on display here in Phil’s excellent, gently-told video cast, really makes me wish there was some kind of Art of Ron Turner book.
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.