Philip Harbottle’s Dan Dare comic strip adaptations, unseen for decades, revisited, and SF novel and film-inspired tales, too

Author and publisher Philip Harbottle has been busy over the last few weeks, revealing more about his own personal connection with the legendary British SF comic icon Dan Dare in his ongoing series of videocasts over on YouTube.

Previously, Philip’s outlined how, after assembling a complete collection of all the Dan Dare stories from the Eagle, and after reception for Radio Luxembourg had suddenly improved, late in 1955 he resumed my comic strip adaptations.

Episode 59 of his 1950s British Science Fiction videocasts, “Adapting The Final Dan Dare Radio Serials”, does exactly what it says on the tin, providing a walkthrough of his adaptation of “The Sirilium Stealers”, Philip’s final Dan Dare Luxembourg comic strip his longest and most detailed.            

These videos, by the way, provide the most detailed insight into these adaptations of now lost Dan Dare radio stories, for the most part the only record of what was broadcast by Radio Luxembourg.

Philip’s video includes an image of Ron Turner’s glorious take on action sequence in one of his Dan Dare strips, coloured by Tim Booth, which featured in Spaceship Away #30, in 2013. Ron’s art was commissioned by Philip commissioned as a sample, in the hope that some redrawn pages by Turner from his strips might appear in the Dan Dare Dossier, but this did not happen.

In Episode 60, “Dan Dare – The Vital Bridge to Science Fiction”, Philip reveals how he tried his hand not only at creating more of his own “Dan Dare” comic strips, the format inspired by films of the day; he also tried his hand at adapting one Radio Luxembourg story as an illustrated novel, “The Animated Robots”, a project sadly curtailed by poor radio reception. By the time the station’s service improved, “Dan Dare” had been dropped from its programming.

The show’s cancellation saw Philip move into adapting SF novels of the day into comics, including Operation Venus by John Russell Fearn, projects the author and publisher candidly admits were not without challenges, applying his usual frank style of criticism to his own early creative works!

In “Creating Science Fiction Comic Strips” ( Episode 61), Philip reveals how, in 1957, extra money earned by doing not one but two paper rounds provided the means to buy plenty of vintage magazines and second hand science fiction books from the monthly catalogues of various booksellers, inspiring his next strip, “The Coming of the Cosmutants”.

The story is clearly buoyed by the same kind of excitement about the Space Race between America and the Soviet Union I would have about the Apollo missions a decade later, and Philip’s enthusiasm for space exploration is much in evidence.

We’re also treated to sight of another strip, “The Scum Creatures”, inspired by the Vargo Statten novels, although by now, Philip’s comic strip drawing days were on the turn..

However, although Philip’s interests were beginning to change, in episode 62, “John Russell Fearn Inspired Comic Strips“, he wasn’t quite done with the visual side of comics storytelling. In this videocast, we see his final adaptations of three john Russell Fearn magazine stories, executed for his personal satisfaction, just to prove to could do it.

While his life would take a different turn, it’s a joy to see what might have been, his “Across the Ages” strip now available as a collection.

Philip tells us his next two videos will cover how he moved into book publishing and magazine editing, becoming book anthologist Mike Ashley’s agent along the way. Plus, how he linked up with agent John Lawrence and artist Ron Turner, and how they produced their comics; what went right, and what went wrong with Harrier Comics and Titan, and why.

As I’ve said before, Philip Harbottle 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.

Also on downthetubes

Spaceship Away! “The Adventures of Dan Dare” on Radio Luxembourg

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

Web Links

Subscribe to 1950s British Science Fiction YouTube Channel here

• Vultures of the Void: The Legacy by Philip Harbottle (AmazonUK Affiliate Link)

Philip Harbottle presents a fascinating guide to British science fiction publishing history

• Buy Across the Ages by John Russell Fearn, adapted into comics by Philip Harbottle here from Lulu

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)

• Books edited or published by Phil Harbottle on AmazonUK (Affiliate Link)

• 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

• Subscribe to 1950s British Science Fiction YouTube Channel

Categories: British Comics, Comic Art, Comics, Creating Comics, downthetubes Comics News, downthetubes News, Other Worlds, Science Fiction

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1 reply

  1. Excellent stuff! Good on Phil Harbottle!

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