Author, editor, literary agent and publisher Philip Harbottle has released a new episode of his fascinating 1950s British Science Fiction videocasts, exploring the history of post-World War Two SF in Britain.
In Episode 10 of this wonderful series, Phill chats about new publisher World Distributors – who, initially, make a decent stab at establishing a new science fiction line – and then ruin it with rubbish!
Find out more about the British editions of “The Whispering Gorilla” by David V. Reed, first published in 1940, which Phil himself later reprinted with a new cover by Ron Turner.
Founded in 1945, World Distributors, also known as Pembertons (because it was owned and operated by brothers Alfred, John, and Sydney Pemberton), was a British publisher and distributor of magazines and comic books, originally based in Manchester. The company, which was sold to Egmont in 1999, is perhaps best known for repackaging American comics and publishing various annuals, including Doctor Who, based on licensed properties. The company, for a time in the 1950s, the sole distributor of American comics in the UK.
Phil reveals some interesting Star Wars links with these 1950s SF titles in this episode, and how could you not want to find out about books with titles like When the Earth Died and Vampires of Venus by Karl Mannheim – even though they are, possibly, the work of someone totally unacquainted with writings science fiction whose true identity remains a mystery to this day?
Philip 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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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.