There are three great Dan Dare-focused videocasts available to watch for free from author and publisher Philip Harbottle, revealing more about his own personal connection with the legendary British SF comic icon.
As we previously reported, as a schoolboy, Philip adapted the adventures of Eagle hero Dan Dare as told in various now lost radio adventures broadcast on Radio Luxembourg into a number of unique comic strips, his work earning him coverage in the Junior Mirror in 1955.
These strips are the only record of some of these tales – but, as he reveals in the first of these three new videocasts, he also created his own stories, helping to shape his writing style for later work on newspaper strips such as “Garth” for the Daily Mirror, and SF strips such as Nick Hazard, working with Ron Turner, which have been republished in Spaceship Away.
The second videocast focuses on how Radio Luxembourg’s Dan Dare adventures, many written by Geoffrey Webb, shaped his comic creativity, adventures broadcast on the commercial station between 1951 and 1956, starring Noel Johnson as Dan Dare, John Sharp as Digby, and Professor Jocelyn Peabody by actress Anne Cullen.
The third videocast continues Philip’s revisit to his Dan Dare strips based on the Radio Luxembourg-broadcast stories, including “Theron’s Secret” and “When Worlds Rotate“, his art improved, the author notes, by the loan of his father’s mapping pen on the latter.
Sadly, poor reception meant Philip had to abandon his adaptation of this tale, but in 1955 it picked up again, and he was able to adapt a story he called “The Cosmic Umbrella“, which sees Venus suddenly a no go destination for Earth’s spaceships. It’s down to Professor Peabody to discover the cause – and the Dan and Digby to put a stop to the danger.
We also see another of Philip’s original Dan Dare tales in this episode, titled “The Negative Space Cloud Threat“.
It’s absolutely fantastic to see these strips, and that Philip has kept them for so many years – luckily, never the victim to house clearances by his house-proud mother like his early copies of Eagle! (Luckily, he was able to buy replacement copies of those from a schoolfriend).
Philip is one of the most knowledgeable authors I know when it comes to SF publishing here in the UK, and I would urge you to check out and subscribe to 1950s British Science Fiction YouTube Channel here.
A life-long science fiction fan, he is 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.
Aired on Radio Luxembourg between July 1951 and May 1956, The Adventures of Dan Dare radio show, based on the first Dan Dare comic story from Eagle, were produced, by Harry Alan Towers (aka Peter Welbeck), many written by Geoffrey Webb
MORE FROM PHILIP HARBOTTLE…
• Vultures of the Void: The Legacy by Philip Harbottle (AmazonUK Affiliate Link)
Philip Harbottle presents a fascinating guide to British science fiction publishing history
A vintage comic strip by Philip Harbottle, adapting John Russell Fearn’s much admired SF novel Across the Ages, has finally been published – some sixty years after the now renowned author and publisher drew it (Read our news item about this here)
• Rayguns and Rocketships by Rian Hughes, featuring many of the covers in Philip’s videocasts, is available to order now direct from Korero Press | Order it from AmazonUK (Affiliate Link) | ISBN: 978-1912740048
The founder of downthetubes, which he established in 1998. John works as a comics and magazine editor, writer, and on promotional work for the Lakes International Comic Art Festival. He is currently editor of Star Trek Explorer, published by Titan – his third tour of duty on the title originally titled Star Trek Magazine.
Working in British comics publishing since the 1980s, his credits include editor of titles such as Doctor Who Magazine, Babylon 5 Magazine, and more. 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 “Pilgrim: Secrets and Lies” for B7 Comics; “Crucible”, a creator-owned project with 2000AD artist Smuzz; and “Death Duty” and “Skow Dogs” with Dave Hailwood.