English language comic strip versions of John Wyndham’s work may have a chequered past – and some mystery, too, as our recent item on a version of The Day of the Triffids drawn by Arthur Ranson testifies. But author and publisher Phil Harbottle has provided downthetubes with details of a French adaptation of the classic post apocalypse story.
This superb French adaptation, published as Revolté des Triffides, the title used as the basis for several international editions from the 1950s onwards, appeared in two successive 1977 Issues (62 and 63) of Aredit/Artima’s 1997 comics pocket series of Sideral.
These two editions were the final releases in the title’s second series, published from November 1968 to March 1977, many strips drawn by Raoul Giordan, but many contributors to the title remain unidentified. (The first series, published between 1958 and 1960, largely consisted for reprints of American comics material).
“The same publisher also had a companion series, Anticipation,” says Phil. “Both featured well drawn, detailed, faithful graphic novel versions of dozens of the 1950s science fiction novels that had appeared in the “Anticipation” paperback book series, published by Flueve Noir Press, in Paris.
“This was a mostly French novel series, but Anticipation also included translations of some English and American SF novels — mostly those of John Russell Fearn’s Vargo Statten novels. They also included a couple of novels by E.C. Tubb, mostly notably Star-Ship (aka The Space Born), which led to it being picked up and filmed for French TV.
“More particularly, they also translated and published Day of the Triffids in 1956.”
The Day of the Triffids aside, the Aredit/Artima graphic novel series of scores of these books series is quite unique and of superb quality, Phil feels – and like other issues, deserving of English language publication.
Sideral and Anticipation ran 132-160 pages, and published their free adaptation of the novel complete, of about 100 – 120 pages, with a back-up short story and articles.
“However, from time to time, when they adjudged the novel was especially outstanding, they asked their artist and scripter to spread it over two issues,” Phil explains, “and to not abridge anything!
“John Russell Fearn had several of his novels done in unabridged double volumes, and Wyndham’s novel was so honoured.
“I’ve recently shot my latest 1950s British Science Fiction video, Episode 12, which discusses this graphic series, as well as the original Fleuve Noir books, using Fearn’s Vargo Statten novel The Avenging Martian as an exemplar.” Phil reveals.
“Fearn had nearly a score of novels done as comics, and I have a complete collection. Unsold copies of the original comic books were rebound, two issues together, with a new cover, as “Recueil” issues.
“I have a full Fearn and Tubb set of these also, but along the way I also picked up the ‘Recueil’ edition of The Day of the Triffids.”
Phil would love to see an English publisher reprint the John Russell Fearn graphic novels, perhaps in colour, but as yet, there have been no takers, despite the obvious high quality of the work.
it would appear that in France, Editions Douin has reprinted many of Artima’s publications in massive collections, but as yet, collections encompassing the second series of Sideral have yet to be published.
Perhaps this item, and Phil’s coverage of these French comic stories for 1950s British Science Fiction, will attract the attention of a publisher. Time will hopefully tell!
• Dan Dare Info: a list of all comic titles published in France that contained science fiction stories at one time or another
ABOUT THE 1950s BRITISH SCIENCE FICTION CHANNEL
Phil 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.
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With thanks to Phil Harbottle, and David Roach for cover artist information