New videocast digs deep into the SF work of Denis Hughes… but his comics work remains a mystery

The Best Science Fantasy of Denis Hughes” is the latest 1950s British Science Fiction videocast from Philip Harbottle, focusing on author Denis Hughes’ later SF novels… but his writing talents also extended to comics.

SF author Denis Hughes
SF author Denis Hughes

Denis Hughes (real name, Denis Talbot Hughes, 1917 – 2008), the son of Victorian artist Talbot Hughes, was a prolific writer who wrote a large number of science fiction and western novels, writing under a number of pseudonyms, including Ken Kester, Gill Hunt and Rand Le Page.

Unfortunately, Hughes quit writing novels after publisher Curtis Warren folded in late 1954, and for the next 30 years he worked exclusively, and, unfortunately, for the most part anonymously, writing stories and strips for DC Thomson. Hundreds of them, in fact – specialising in World War Two adventures for boys’ weekly titles, including Victor, Hotspur, Warlord and Wizard.

Presumably, in part, he drew from his own wartime experience. He trained as an Air Observation Pilot but a serious crash prematurely ended his flying career.

“Sadly, I have no idea of any of these hundreds of strips and stories – or how they might be researched,” Phil tells us.

Thanks to Steve Holland of Bear Alley we do know he wrote episodes of “Union Jack Jackson” foe Warlord, but more information is very welcome.

The cover for Warlord #1, cover dated 28th September 1974 by Carlos Cruz, an edited version of a panel, of Union Jack Jackson’s pal O’Bannion, that would appear in Warlord Issue 4

Until then, most of Hughes’ main work remains a mystery… as does much of his personal life, but while some web sites have suggested he was reticent to talk about it, his daughter has told Phil that in fact, he was totally unaware anyone would have been interested in him, or remembered his work. “I’m sure he would have been delighted to talk about it,” she says.

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)

Fantastic Fiction – Denis Hughes Profile

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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