Author Philip Harbottle returns to the subject of science fiction “mushroom publishers” in the latest episode of his 1950s British Science Fiction mini documentaries on YouTube, with Episode 27 introducing viewers to the output of Hamilton & Company, the progenitors of the highly-regarded Panther Books.
Many SF publishers of the 1950s in the UK popped up and disappeared just as quickly in that formative decade, hence the term “mushroom publishers”, but Hamilton & Company were one of the more significant companies.
This episode of 1950s British Science Fiction is the first of several Phil is planning, offering insights into the more successful publishers and their authors. In the case of Hamilton & Company, after earlier failures in the SF field, their success was helped by securing the services of author John Russell Fearn in 1950, paying a high rate for his work.
As ever, Phil pulls no punches in his criticism of the worst stories of era, but offers plenty of praise, too, for the best. He also reveals an unexpected link between an early Panther Book, Two Days of Terror by Roy Sheldon, with to the Daily Mirror strip, “Garth“, its plot device possibly plagiarised from “The Island Laboratory” published in the newspaper in 1944, by Don Freeman, Steve Dowling and John Allard.
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.
“Garth” on downthetubes
A section created with the invaluable help of Phil Harbottle, including early story synopses
In a feature encompassing the entire history of the much-loved strip, Garth writer Phil pays tribute to artist and editor John Allard, who worked at the Mirror for over 50 years, outlining his huge contribution to Garth‘s enduring success
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.