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Monday, October 20, 2014

Roger Hall

Roger Hall and Sam Peffer photographed in 2005.

Roger Hall began earning his livelihood as an artist painting front-of-house display material for cinemas, a career path also followed by his good friend, the late Sam Peffer. Like Sam, Hall moved on to produce book covers and dust jackets for many British publishers and, later, found work with Design Bureau, whose artists were responsible for many of Hamlyn's "All Colour Paperbacks" in the late 1960s/early 1970s. It was here that the two finally met, remaining good friends until Sam's death earlier this year.

Roger Hall was born at St Barts Hospital on Boxing Day 1914, the son of a stoker who worked at Wimbledon Power Station. Hall grew up in Islington and showed an early interest in, and talent for, drawing. A few months after leaving school, he became a junior at the London Art Service, a firm specialising in cinema display work. At the age of 15 he worked on lettering huge, 48-sheet posters, banners and other advertising material.

After a while, Hall became desperate to move onto the artistic side of the operation in the studios below. One of the firm's artists, Bill Wiggins, suggested that he draw some specimen illustrations to show to the company's chief artist Oscar Brown and, using a Saturday Evening Post cover as his reference, Hall painted a town crier. Brown's terse response was to instruct Hall to "start downstairs on Monday".

After an apprenticeship of mixing paint and running errands, Hall began contributing life-size heads to displays, having spent every weekend studying portraits at the Tate and National Gallery. His hero was John Singer Sargent, the top portrait artist of his era and a master at the realistic portrayal of people. After a couple of years, Hall had developed a realistic style that allowed him to accurately paint up to twenty portrait panels a week from publicity brochures and photos. Given his output, he asked for a 2/6d. pay rise—bringing his wage up to £1 a week—and left when the firm prevaricated.

Now aged 18, he joined Art Display Services, a new firm based in a former banana warehouse off Shaftesbury Avenue who supplied hand-painted cut-out displays for cinema foyers. One of his most memorable assignments was a 20-foot high picture of Charles Bickford, made up from twelve pieces of 5 x 5-feet plywood, for the Regal, Marble Arch.

Hall continued this work until he was called up in 1941. Demobbed at the end of 1946, he joined Pulford Publicity to paint posters. For £16 a week—more than double the average wage— he painted between 200 and 300 posters for the firm, the first a quad poster featuring a large portrait of Michael Redgrave for Fame Is The Spur (1947). Other posters included Circle Of Danger (1951) and The Adventurers (1952).

After producing two or three posters a week for seven years, Hall found himself frustrated by the firm's boss, Eric Pulford, who insisted on designing and laying out all the work for Hall to finish. He left, turning to the thriving field of book cover illustration, producing dust jackets for Hutchinson and covers for Arrow, Pan, Corgi, Panther, Four Square, Mayflower and even Mills & Boon.

In the 1960s, he returned to painting film posters for Geoff Wright but, due to work commitments elsewhere, passed on the work to Sam Peffer in 1971. Hall, meanwhile, was working in television and film production work, also illustrating 14 Ladybird books in their 'Famous People' series.

Hall also illustrated three popular series for Collins: The Hardy Boys, Nancy Drew and The Three Investigators. In the late 1960s, Hall contributed cover illustrations to IPC's Princess Tina and, in the early 1970s, painted illustrations for the nursery comic Hey Diddle Diddle.

Sam Peffer recalls: "During one of my quieter spells in 1977, a phone call from Roger Hall led to a couple of jobs that gave us both a great deal of pleasure. He had been commissioned to paint murals stretching the length of the walls in two new Safeway supermarkets—one in South Norwood, the other at Blackfen, Sidcup—all expenses paid, and he needed another artist to assist him. Was I interested? I jumped at the opportunity. It was a totally new experience for me, and a very enjoyable one."

Hall moved to Spain in 1986, but travelled widely. He held three exhibitions before returning to the UK in 2003, retiring to Gloucestershire, where he continued to paint landscapes and local scenes.


Illustrated Books
The Three Investigators (* cover only, no internal illustrations):
  1 The Secret of Terror Castle by Robert Arthur. London, Collins, 1967.
  3 The Mystery of the Whispering Mummy by Robert Arthur. London, Collins, 1968. 
  4 Mystery of the Green Ghost by Robert Arthur. London, Collins, 1968.
  5 The Mystery of the Vanishing Treasure by Robert Arthur. London, Collins, 1968.
  6 The Secret of Skeleton Island by Robert Arthur. London, Collins, 1968.
  7 The Mystery of the Fiery Eye by Robert Arthur. London, Collins, 1969.
  8 The Mystery of the Silver Spider by Robert Arthur. London, Collins, 1969.
  9 The Mystery of the Screaming Clock by Robert Arthur. London, Collins, 1969.
  10 The Mystery of the Moaning Cave by William Arden. London, Collins, 1969. 
  11 The Mystery of the Talking Skull by Robert Arthur. London, Collins, 1970.
  12 The Mystery of the Laughing Shadow by William Arden. London, Collins, 1970.
  13 The Secret of the Crooked Cat by William Arden. London, Collins, 1971.
  14 The Mystery of the Coughing Dragon by Nick West. London, Collins, 1971.
  15 The Mystery of the Flaming Footprints by M. V. Carey. London, Collins, 1972.*
  16 The Mystery of the Nervous Lion by Nick West. London, Collins, 1972.*
  17 The Mystery of the Singing Serpent by M. V. Carey. London, Collins, 1973.*
  18 The Mystery of the Shrinking House by William Arden. London, Collins, 1973.*
  19 Secret of Phantom Lake by William Arden. London, Collins, 1974.*
  20 The Mystery of Monster Mountain by M. V. Carey. London, Collins, 1974.
  21 The Secret of the Haunted Mirror by M. V. Carey. London, Collins, 1975.
  22 The Mystery of the Dead Man's Riddle by William Arden. London, Collins, 1975
  23 The Mystery of the Invisible Dog by M. V. Carey. London, Collins, 1976.*
  24 The Mystery of Death Trap Mine by M. V. Carey. London, Collins, 1977.*
  25  The Mystery of the Dancing Devil by William Arden. London, Collins, 1977.
  26 The Mystery of the Headless Horse by William Arden. London, Collins, 1978.*
  27 The Mystery of the Magic Circle by M. V. Carey. London, Collins, 1979.*
  28 The Mystery of the Deadly Double by William Arden. London, Collins, 1979.
Freshwater Fishing by Colin Gamble, illus. with Glenn Steward & Sam Peffer. London, Hamlyn, 1972.
The Piper of Hamlyn retold by Anthony Toyne. London, Oxford University Press, 1972.
Sir Prancelot Goes to Sea by Jane Morey. London, Collins, 1972.
Stories of Special Days and Customs by N. F. Pearson. Loughborough, Wills & Hepworth, 1972.
Elizabeth Fry by L. du Garde Peach. Loughborough, Ladybird Books, 1973.
Michael Faraday by L. du Garde Peach. Loughborough, Ladybird Books, 1973.
Charles Darwin by L. du Garde Peach. Loughborough, Ladybird Books, 1973.
Roads by James Webster, illus. with Gerald Witcomb & Martin Aitchison. Loughborough, Ladybird Books, 1974.
Samuel Pepys by Nicholas Abbott. Loughborough, Ladybird Books, 1974.
Bonnie Prince Charlie by L. du Garde Peach. Loughborough, Ladybird Books, 1975.
The Story of Our Canals by Carolyn Hutchings. Loughborough, Ladybird Books, 1975.
Robert Louis Stevenson by Barbara Brill. Loughborough, Ladybird Books, 1975.
Deserts by P. H. Armstrong, illus. with Gerald Witcomb. Loughborough, Ladybird Books, 1976.
Queen Victoria by J. R. C. Yglesias. Loughborough, Ladybird Books, 1976.
Elizabeth Gaskell by Barbara Brill. Loughborough, Ladybird Books, 1977.
Cooking With Mother by Lynne Peebles. Loughborough, Ladybird Books, 1977.
The Ladybird Colouring Book of ABC, illus. with others. Loughborough, Ladybird Books, 1978.
Marco Polo by Audrey Daly. Loughborough, Ladybird Books, 1980.
William Shakespeare by Geoffrey Earle. Loughborough, Ladybird, 1981.
Tea by Michael Smith, illus. with David Palmer. Loughborough, Ladybird, 1981.
Miracles of Jesus: Loaves and Fishes by Sylvia Mandeville. Loughborough, Ladybird, 1982.
Water Into Wine by Sylvia Mandeville. Loughborough, Ladybird, 1982.

(* Most of the biographical information above is derived from Sim Branaghan's British Film Posters, BFI Publishing, 2006. My thanks to Phil Richards for the scan of Trapeze.)

Sunday, October 19, 2014

George R R Martin Cover Gallery

Dying of the Light (New York, Simon & Schuster, 1977)
Panther Books 0586-04613-5, 1979, 316pp.
Millennium 1857-98897-3, 2000, 365pp.

Windhaven, with Lisa Tuttle (New York, Timescape Books, 1981)
New English Library 0450-04666-4, 1982, 315pp.
Gollancz 0575-04395-4, 1988, 320pp.
Millennium 1857-98940-6, 2000, 315pp.

Fevre Dream (New York, Poseidon Press, 1982)
Sphere 0722-15730-4, 1984, 407pp.
VGSF 0575-04492-6, 1989, 352pp.
Vista 0575-60005-5, 1996, 352pp.
Millennium 1857-98331-9, 2001, 352pp.

The Armageddon Rag (New York, Poseidon Press/Nemo Press, 1983)
New English Library 0450-05766-6, 1984, 333pp.
Gollancz 978-0575-12955-9, 2013.

Tuf Voyaging (Riverside, N.Y., Baen Books, 1986)
VGSF 0575-04266-4, 1988, 374pp.
Gollancz 978-0575-12952-8, 2013.

A Game of Thrones (London, HarperCollins Voyager, 1996)
Voyager 0006-47988-X, 1997, 694pp. [Special Overseas Edition]
Voyager 0006-47988-X, 1998, 704pp.
HarperVoyager 0007-44803-1, 2011, 801pp.

A Clash of Kings (London, HarperCollins Voyager, 1998)
Voyager 0002-25668-1, 1998, 741pp. [tpb]
HarperVoyager 978-0007-44783-1, 2011, 913pp.
HarperCollins 978-0007-46582-8, 2012. Tie-in cover

A Storm of Swords (London, HarperCollins Voyager, 2000; in two volumes as A Storm of Swords 1: Steel and Snow and 2: Blood and Gold, HarperCollins Voyager, 2001)
Voyager 0007-10197-X, 2000, 973pp. [tpb]

A Storm of Swords 1: Steel and Snow
Voyager 0006-47990-1 , 2001, 661pp.
----, 2003.
HarperVoyager 978-0007-44784-8, 2011, 607pp.
HarperVoyager 978-0007-48384-6, 2013, 623pp

A Storm of Swords 2: Blood and Gold
Voyager 0007-11955-0, 2001, 637pp.
----, 2003.
HarperVoyager 978-0007-44785-5, 2011, 607pp.

Shadow Twin, with David Abraham & Gardner Dozois (Burton, Michigan, Subterranean Press, 2005; revised and expanded as Hunter's Run, London, HarperCollins, 2007)
(no UK paperback)

A Feast for Crows (London, Voyager, 2005)
Voyager 0002-24742-9, 2006, 753pp. [tpb]
Voyager 0006-48612-6, 2006, 936pp.
Voyager 978-0007-44786-2, 2011, 849pp.

A Dance With Dragons (New York, Bantam, 2011; in two volumes as A Dance With Dragons 1: Dreams and Dust and 2: After the Feast, London, HarperVoyager, 2012)
(no single volume paperback)

A Dance With Dragons 1: Dreams and Dust
Harper Voyager 978-0007-46606-1, 2012, 690pp, £8.99. Cover by Larry Rostant

A Dance With Dragons 2: After the Feast
HarperVoyager 978-0007-46607-8, 2012, 560pp.


A Song for Lya and Other Stories (New York, Avon Books, 1976)
Coronet 0340-22779-6, 1978, 205pp.

Songs of Stars and Shadows (New York, Pocket Books, 1977)
(no UK paperback)

Sandkings (New York, Pocket Books/Timescape, 1981)
Futura 0708-82306-8, 1983, 238pp.

Songs the Dead Men Sing (Arlington Heights, Illinois, Dark Harvest, 1983; abridged, London, Victor Gollancz, 1985)
Sphere 0722-15736-3, 1986, 214pp.

Nightflyers (New York, Bluejay Books, 1985)
(no UK paperback)

Portraits of His Children (Arlington Heights, Illinois, Dark Harvest, 1987)
(no UK paperback)

Quartet: Four Tales from the Crossroads (Framingham, Massachusetts, The NESFA Press, 2001)
(no UK paperback)

GRRM: A RRetrospective (Burton, Michigan, Subterranean Press, 2003; as Dreamsongs: GRRM: A RRetrospective, London, Orion/Gollancz, 2006; in two volumes as Dreamsongs: Volume I and Volume II, New York, Bantam Spectra, 2007, and as Dreamsongs 1: A RRetrospective and 2: A RRetrospective, London, Gollancz, 2008)

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Down at the quay

On Wednesday (15 October 2014), Mel had to travel up to London early in the morning, so I decided to walk with her down to the station and then carry on to the quay. We had walked along the quay ten days earlier in the blazing sunshine; now, it was misty and the sun was barely out and the views took on a hazy, ghostly aspect.

Our favourite boat is the Yoffee. I haven't a clue what the boat was named after: a Google search turns up the Yoffee Coffee house in Airmont, New York, the Yoffee Frozen Yogurt shop in Port Macquarie, NSW, Australia (4 stars on tripadvisor!) and Norman Yoffee, Professor Emeritus of Anthropology and Near Eastern Studies at the University of Michigan, whose career has "oscillated between the fields of Assyriology ... and Anthropology" according to this biography.

Not that it matters. It's our favourite because it makes us think of Yoffy, of Fingerbobs fame.

We had walked along West Quay that Sunday as I wanted to try and get a nice shot across the marshy banks of the Colne out towards Rowhedge. The picture below was the best of the bunch and shows you how gorgeous the weather was last month.

Now, early in the morning, I thought it might be fun to try and get a similar shot in the mist.

As I walked along the quay, I spotted the Yoffee and a couple of other boats and took a series of photos that I thought I'd share.

There's something about misty mornings that makes me think back to when I was a kid. I used to look out of my bedroom window across the fields down to the River Chelmer. A low-lying mist over the river always indicated that it was going to be a hot, sunny day. You could guarantee it. Sadly, I don't have any photos from back then—it didn't seem important because all children believe that nothing will ever change. I could only get a half-decent image from Google street view. My bedroom, off to the right in this shot, overlooked the A130 and then over the fields. Unfortunately, this shot is from ground level, so you don't really get the sense of the fields sweeping away. The nearby trees on the grass banks weren't there in my day.

Happy days.

Friday, October 17, 2014

Comic Cuts - 17 October 2014

Reprinted for the first time: a classic story of one man's fight against
government oppression in the gladiatorial arenas of the near future.
"With reality TV overload and the rise of the risque and the brutality of today’s society, this story ... is more relevant today than it was in 1979." - Colin Noble, Down the Tubes

A rather more cheery week where I've been able to make some progress on the next Bear Alley Books' book. The copyright owner has agreed to discuss two more books and if the terms are agreeable, I should be able to announce the title of the first shortly. Arena is selling, but very slowly. Maybe it's because we're on the run-up to Christmas, but I have to admit that I've always found the comic strip books I've published are slow-sellers. Maybe once I've a few books in print things will pick up.

I've finally started sorting out some of the photographs I've had sitting around on my hard drive for months. I had the idea of putting together some photos of local pubs, as they're the kind of businesses that exist for many years; I'm still working on it, but for now here's a photograph of the grocer's shop run by S. Wood. "S" stood for Stacey, and he ran this grocery store on the High Street at the corner of Philip Road. The top photograph is taken from the Wivenhoe Heritage blog, which states that the man seen in the doorway is Wood's assistant, George Green.

Stacey was born in Ware, Hertfordshire in around 1866, the son of Sampson and Susannah Wood. The family moved to Layer Marney, Colchester, where Sampson ran a large farm of 440 acres employing five men and four boys. He must have been well-to-do as he employed a governess to look after his growing family and four additional servants. By 1881, Sampson had moved to Kelvedon and was now working as a commercial traveller. By 1891, Stacey Wood was living in Wivenhoe, an assistant at a grocer's store run by George Stebbing. By 1901, he was running his own grocery. He had married Nelly Glance Pittuck in 1894 and had a daughter, Evelyn Ivy Wood, born in 1898. Seven years later, a second daughter, Ella Pittuck Wood, was born.

The two girls can be seen in the car in the photograph below. Ella, with bows in her hair, sadly died at the age of only nine. Evelyn, married at the age of 30, died two years later in 1931.

Stacey and Nelly lived at La Marney, The Avenue, Wivenhoe, in retirement. Nelly died on 28 March 1947, aged 78. Her husband followed on 7 December 1951, aged 85.

The grocers was taken over by Len Barton and his family, although what became of them I've no idea. I do know that Len Barton was a special constable and was involved in helping people during the 1953 floods. The shop was already closed when we moved to Wivenhoe four years ago; the photo below was taken on 14 September 2014.

The paragraphs above show that there's some truth in the adage "Every picture tells a story." But sometimes you have to wonder what the story is. For instance, I mentioned last week that we were having some telegraph poles replaced in the area. Well, the work was carried out over the weekend and the early part of this week.

I've probably never thought about telegraph poles for one second of my adult life. I probably walked into a few of them when I was a kid, but I was never traumatized by it; telegraph poles are just part of the street furniture we take for granted. With lorries, vans and cherry pickers littering the streets I was walking around, I began to take notice of them for the first time and one in particular caught my eye.

In the High Street I spotted a pole which had something attached to it which, on closer examination, turned out to be a bunch of flowers. They were taped to the pole well out of reach of any normal person. What on earth the story is behind these flowers I've no idea but it just goes to show that, if you keep your eyes open while you're out walking, you can stumble across some intriguing things.

Curious, eh?

The latest volume of Space Ace has arrived and I'm happy to learn from editor/publisher John Lawrence that he's planning to produce a new issue every six months as long as sales justify and John Ridgway can keep up the pace. John makes a fantastic job of colouring these old Ron Turner strips, retaining the spirit of Ron's colour work without being a slave to it. The quality of modern printing means that colour that would once have been muddy on the newsprint of old comics reproduce crisply and... well, colourfully, on bright, white paper.

The stories are a quartet of tales from the pages of Lone Star and Lone Star Annual from the period 1958-59. They lack the sophistication of modern science fiction, but given their age and the audience they were aimed at, Ron Turner's writing was pretty good. Lack of space meant that Turner had no time for elaborate set-ups: he jumped right in and each yarn had to motor along at high speed. The opening story, for instance, is a model of condensed story-telling, the opening page introducing an alien race and a situation, the second page expanding on the problem and introducing a potentially cataclysmic threat. By page three, Space Ace and Sergeant Bill Crag are on the ground and captured; a page later they've escaped and are back in space, faced with an overwhelming force of enemy spaceships and only two pages to clear up the problem that now threatens their home planet.

These pacy little tales are all drawn exquisitely by Turner and hopefully John will be able to keep to his planned schedule as it will be a huge pleasure to see more of these old yarns back in print. For now, you can pick up volume 3 for £8.95 (UK), £13.00 (Europe) or £14.00 (international)—all prices include postage & packing—via PayPal at spaceace.54 AT

For this week's paperback covers I've picked out four fairly random scans of Ace Books. This was the old Harborough Press, run by Raymond and Lilian Locker and edited by Frank Rudman. To my mind it was the most eclectic paperback line of its era (1957-62), with a lot of translations and many books by now-forgotten authors... and then you'll stumble across a classic like Absolute Beginners or To Sir With Love or a single month's output that included books by Tennessee Williams, Edgar Mittelholzer, Billie Holiday and Truman Capote.

I don't know who the cover artists were for the following covers. I wouldn't be surprised if there was a Spaniard or two involved.

We'll have a George R. R. Martin cover gallery some time over the weekend. There are a couple of posts that I want to do but it may take a few days to get them together... so just in case things get a little patchy, rest assured that I'm working on something.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

John Steeksma

(* Some years ago, I mentioned an artist contributing illustrations to The Pillar-Box magazine. The information came from The FictionMags Index, a huge project that I have been involved with for many years. The title is self-explanatory—the FictionMag chums index fiction that appeared in magazines and have indexed some 85,000 issues to date. One was The Pillar-Box
    It was in this index that Colin Steeksma stumbled across a short story written by a relative, John Steeksma. I suggested that Colin write a little piece about his fiction-writing relative and I'm pleased to present the following. A huge thanks to Colin for writing a very interesting portrait of his grandfather and for digging out photographs.)

John Steeksma

John Steeksma was born on Monday March 6, 1886 at Hull (Kingston-upon-Hull) in the East Riding of Yorkshire, England He was the first child of seven born to Karel Steeksma and his wife Annie Chatham.

In 1901 at age 15 John worked as a meat importer's assistant, likely to his father who imported poultry. In 1903 he passed an examination to join the Post Office and much later became the Secretary of the Postal and Telegraph Clerks Association. John married Ethel Playfoot in 1911, at which time he took the role of head of the Steeksma household, his father having died in 1907. John lived in Hull with his wife, widowed mother and four of his siblings, Caroline, Albert, Annie and Grace. His two younger brothers, Ernest and Reinder had moved out.

In 1913 John and Ethel had a daughter Mona Kathleen. John enlisted in the First World War at the age of 28 as a private in the Corps of Royal Engineers, entering France on 21 September 1915. During a campaign at Salonika he was gassed, wounded and contracted tuberculosis of the knee, after which in September 1916 he was medically discharged. He suffered from gastric and leg problems for the rest of his life.

In 1918 John and Ethel had another child, a son Bryan (my father). in 1920 in his role as the Secretary of the Postal and Telegraph Clerks Association, John was part of a War Memorial Sub Committee that created a plaque commemorating the postal service workers who served and died in the war. The plaque was hung in the Hull Post Office and added to for subsequent wars however, the building being vacated in 1997, the memorial tablets were transferred to the reception area in the new East District Delivery Office, St Peter's Lane, Drypool which opened in 1997.

John and Ethel separated in 1933 and Ethel passed away from cancer in 1954.

John "posing like a poet" outside the family home, 40 Peel Street, Hull, in 1913

John was the author of three books, namely Working the Mind in 1932, The Writing Way in 1933 and Philosophical Inquiry in 1935, all published by Pittman & Sons.

John also wrote daily diaries and notes on his writing which are still in our family today and which form both a common-man's history of life though two wars and the aftermath, as well as chronicling his personal struggles with life and writing. John was a committed thinker and intellectual, a fan of George Bernard Shaw, an active member of the Hull Fabian Society and corresponded with some of the other well-known thinkers of the day such as C. E. M. Joad.

As John grew older his leg and stomach worsened and his mind deteriorated more than he could bear, so he chose to end his own life on September 19, 1960, overdosing himself with sleeping pills at he age of 74 at the home of his daughter Mona.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Beyond the Horizon - The Art of John Harris

If you find yourself with half an hour to spare, go watch the documentary Beyond the Horizon—The Art of John Harris, which is a fantastic introduction to the man and his works. Directed by Alex Freidin-Goss, the film draws heavily on the recent Titan Books' volume The Art of John Harris.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Jack Potter (1921-2014)

I'm sorry to hear that Jack Potter, a long-time letterer who worked on Valiant, Buster, 2000AD and many other comic titles, died on Sunday, 5 October 2014, aged 93.

Born in 1921, John S. Potter began his career in an art studio in the 1930s, much of the work involving lettering and design from simple penmanship to carving wood. He served in the Air Force for 7 years, later finding employment with an advertising agency for 2-3 years after the war. He worked for Mick Anglo's Gower Street Studios in the late 1940s, occasionally drawing some of the humour strips which Anglo provided for Paget Publications.

He left Anglo to work for the Amalgamated Press and concentrated on lettering for the rest of his career, having debuted in Thriller Comics in 1953, although he briefly turned to drawing for Schoolgirls Picture Library in 1960. His lettering could be found in the pages of Tiger, Lion, Knockout, Valiant (where he lettered "Captain Hurricane", "Raven on the Wing" and "The Steel Claw" amongst many other strips), Buster and 2000AD. Outside of comics, Potter was also lettered newspaper strips, including Sydney Jordan's "Jeff Hawke" and Harry Bishop's "Gun Law", and educational books.

Always uncredited, his name only became known to a wider audience through his work in 2000AD, although much of his initial work on "Invasion", "Flesh" and "Dan Dare" predated the arrival of credit boxes. He was also an early letterer on "Judge Dredd", notably the "Robot Wars" and "The Day the Law Died" storylines.

"Jack Potter was THE man, when it came to lettering! He was the man we all strived to match … but could never quite!" recalls Derek Pierson. "Johnny Aldrich and I and a few others admired his expertise and we used to copy every letter of the alphabet to try and capture his style."

"Jack was a lovely guy, with a keen sense of humour, quite apart from being a superb balloon letterer," says Gil Page.  "I never knew him to make a mistake and he always said he could letter two pages while listening to the radio and afterwards couldn't tell you a word that he'd done!  I worked with him from the late fifties until he "retired".  He said he was 93, had had a yellow card because of a touch of cancer and was just waiting for the red!  He was also miffed because he had decided to get rid of his car.

"There's not a lot about him that I can tell you, except that I know he was a radio scriptwriter for some of the big names of the times, so there was more to him than met the eye." 

David Hunt writes: "As an Editor I had the pleasure of commissioning countless lettering tasks for Jack Potter to complete and, truthfully, I rated his lettering style as one of the best in the business. Jack could always be relied upon to complete a thoroughly professional job and I felt the artwork was always enhanced after he'd added the words to complete the finished pages.

"Without fail, Jack would visit us on a weekly basis to deliver his finished lettering and to pick up new scripts/artwork for him to complete in the following seven days. Easy-going, friendly, a ready wit and with a smile on his face, it was always a pleasure to have Jack in the office."

Potter lived in Hawley, Surrey, and Bearsted, Kent—where he was one of the founder-members of the Bearsted and Thurnham Bowls Club—before retiring to Bexhill-on-Sea.

He is survived by his wife, Doris, whom he married in 1948, and son Steve, who was also a noted letterer for Fleetway, Quality and Marvel UK.

Malcolm Saville

I make no secret of the fact that Malcolm Saville was, and remains, one of my favourite childhood writers. I absolutely adored the Lone Pine novels and also read those Marston Baines stories I could lay my hands on. Saville was the very first author I ever wrote to. At the age of 8 or 9, I sent a letter to the address given in his various books to say that I had read all of his Lone Pine stories but could not find one of them, called The Secret of Grey Walls. Saville wrote back... and I wish I still had his reply. I do know that I promptly joined the Lone Pine Club and received his newsletters for the next couple of years. I also bought the hardback of Where's My Girl? through the club... and I wish I still had that, too, as it disappeared from my life many years ago.

To cut a long story short, The Secret of Grey Walls was reprinted in 1972 by Collins in a hardback edition which I had for thirty-eight years (it was disposed of ahead of our last house move). Indeed, I later managed to accumulate two paperback editions and, in 2008, bought the Girls Gone By reprint so I had the original text at long last.

That correspondence with Malcolm Saville was incredibly important—I don't think it would be too grand to call it life-shaping. You see, I'd sent a letter to someone whose books I loved and not only did the author turn out to be friendly but, as far as I was concerned, he got the book I was after back into print for me!

The introductions to Saville's books made it clear that the action he described took place against real backgrounds and, although I haven't ever had the chance to visit Shropshire or Rye, they were completely real to me as a reader. I never questioned the notion that Saville obviously knew these places well... and the first seeds of wanting to find out more about the people behind the bylines were sown. Oh, boy...

It's over thirty-five years later and I'm still writing to authors and digging up what snippets of information I can on them.

Last year I reviewed Saville's movie, Treasure at the Mill (scripted by Mary Cathcard Borer from a story by Saville), when I wrote a piece on artist Harry Pettit who not only starred in the film with his family but illustrated the novelisation written by Saville.

Following the bibliography, you will find a gallery of the Lone Pine novels illustrated with the Girls Gone By editions which are well worth picking up as they reprint the original texts and illustrations along with copious amounts of introductory matter. At the time of writing they've reprinted nineteen novels out of the twenty. I've also noted some online resources if you want to explore Saville's life and career any further.


Novels (series: Marston Baines; Brown Family; Buckinghams; Jillies; Lone Pine; Michael & Mary; Nettleford; Susan & Bill)
Mystery at Witchend (Lone Pine), illus. G. E. Breary. London, Newnes, Oct 1943; as Spy in the Hills, New York: Farrar & Rinehart, 1945.
Seven White Gates (Lone Pine), illus. Bertram Prance. London, Newnes, Oct 1944.
Trouble at Townsend. London, Transatlantic Arts, Jun 1945.
The Gay Dolphin Adventure (Lone Pine), illus. Bertram Prance. London, Newnes, Nov 1945.
Jane's Country Year, illus. Bernard Bowerman. London, Newnes, Nov 1946.
The Riddle of the Painted Box, illus. Lunt Roberts. London, Noel Carrington, Jun 1947.
The Secret of Grey Walls (Lone Pine), illus. Bertram Prance. London, Newnes, Dec 1947.
Redshank's Warning (Jillies), illus. Lunt Roberts. London, Lutterworth Press, Jun 1948.
Two Fair Plaits (Jillies), illus. Lunt Roberts. London, Lutterworth Press, Nov 1948.
Strangers at Snowfell (Jillies), illus. Wynne. London, Lutterworth Press, Sep 1949.
Lone Pine Five (Lone Pine), illus. Bertram Prance. London, Newnes, Nov 1949.
The Master of Maryknoll (Buckingham), illus. Alice Bush. London, Evans, Mar 1950.
The Sign of the Alpine Rose (Jillies), illus. Wynne. London, Lutterworth Press, Oct 1950.
The Flying Fish Adventure, illus. Lunt Roberts. London, John Murray, Oct 1950.
The Elusive Grasshopper (Lone Pine), illus. Bertram Prance. London, Newnes, Sep 1951.
All Summer Through (Nettleford), illus. Joan Kiddell-Monroe. London, Hodder & Stoughton, Nov 1951.
The Luck of Sallowby (Jillies), illus. Tilden Reeves. London, Lutterworth Press, Mar 1952.
The Buckinghams at Ravenswyke (Buckingham), illus. Bush. London, Evans, Sep 1952.
The Ambermere Treasure (Jillies), illus. Marcia Lane Foster. London, Lutterworth Press, Apr 1953; as The Secret of the Ambermere Treasure, New York: Criterion, 1967.
The Secret of the Hidden Pool, illus. Lunt Roberts. London, John Murray, Aug 1953.
The Neglected Mountain (Lone Pine), illus. Bernard Prance. London, Newnes, Sep 1953.
Christmas at Nettleford (Nettleford), illus. Joan Kiddell-Monroe. London, Hodder & Stoughton, Sep 1953.
Spring Comes to Nettleford (Nettleford), illus. Joan Kiddel-Monroe. London, Hodder & Stoughton, Sep 1954.
The Long Passage (Buckingham), illus. Alice Bush. London, Evans, Apr 1954.
Susan, Bill and the Wolf-Dog (Susan & Bill), illus. Ernest Shepard. London, Thomas Nelson & Son, Jul 1954.
Susan, Bill and the Ivy-Clad Oak (Susan & Bill), illus. Ernest Shepard. London, Thomas Nelson & Son, Jul 1954.
Susan, Bill and the Vanishing Boy (Susan & Bill), illus. Ernest Shepard. London, Thomas Nelson & Son, Mar 1955.
Susan, Bill and the Golden Clock (Susan & Bill), illus. Ernest Shepard. London, Thomas Nelson & Son, Mar 1955.
Saucers Over the Moor (Lone Pine), illus. Bernard Prance. London, Newnes, Sep 1955; abridged as Saucers Over the Moon, John Goodchild Publishers, 1984.
The Secret of Buzzard Scar (Nettleford), illus. Joan Kiddell-Monroe. London, Hodder & Stoughton, Oct 1955.
Susan, Bill and the Dark Stranger (Susan & Bill), illus. Ernest Shepard. London, Thomas Nelson & Son, May 1956.
Susan, Bill and the "Saucy Kate" (Susan & Bill), illus. Ernest Shepard. London, Thomas Nelson & Son, May 1956.
Wings Over Witchend (Lone Pine). London, Newnes, Sep 1956.
Young Johnnie Bimbo, illus. Lunt Roberts. London, John Murray, Nov 1956.
Treasure at the Mill, illus. Harry Pettit. London, Newnes, Feb 1957.
The Fourth Key, illus. Lunt Roberts. London, John Murray, Sep 1957.
Lone Pine London (Lone Pine). London, Newnes, Oct 1957.
The Secret of the Gorge (Lone Pine). London, Newnes, Sep 1958.
Four-and-Twenty Blackbirds (Brown Family), illus. Lilian Buchanan. London, Newnes, Mar 1959; as The Secret of Galleybird Pit, London, Armada, Jul 1967.
Small Creatures, illus. John Kenney. London, Ward (Truth in a Tale), Jun 1959.
Mystery Mine (Lone Pine). London, Newnes, Oct 1959.
Susan, Bill and the Bright Star Circus (Susan & Bill), illus. Terry Freeman. London, Thomas Nelson & Son, Jul 1960.
Sea Witch Comes Home (Lone Pine). London, Newnes, Sep 1960.
Susan, Bill and the Pirates Bold (Susan & Bill), illus. Terry Freeman. London, Thomas Nelson & Son, Mar 1961.
Not Scarlet But Gold (Lone Pine), illus. A. R. Whitear. London, Newnes, Sep 1962.
A Palace for the Buckinghams (Buckingham), illus. Alice Bush. London, Evans, May 1963.
Three Towers in Tuscany (Baines). London, Heinemann, Oct 1963.
Treasure at Amorys (Lone Pine), illus. Freeman. London, Newnes, Apr 1964.
The Purple Valley (Baines). London, Heinemann, Nov 1964.
Dark Danger (Baines). London, Heinemann, Nov 1965.
The Thin Grey Man, illus. Desmond Knight. London, Macmillan, Jan 1966; New York: St. Martin's Press, 1966.
The Man With Three Fingers (Lone Pine), illus. Michael Whittlesea. London, Newnes, Apr 1966.
White Fire (Baines). London, Heinemann, Nov 1966.
Strange Story. London, Mowbray, Oct 1967.
Power of Three (Baines). London, Heinemann, Apr 1968.
Rye Royal (Lone Pine). London, Collins, Oct 1969.
The Dagger and the Flame (Baines). London, Heinemann, Jun 1970.
Strangers at Witchend (Lone Pine). London, Collins, Oct 1970.
Good Dog Dandy (Brown Family). London, Collins, May 1971.
The Secret of Villa Rosa (Buckingham). London, Collins, Nov 1971.
Where's My Girl? (Lone Pine). London, Collins, Nov 1972.
The Roman Treasure Mystery (Brown Family). London, Armada, Aug 1973.
Diamond in the Sky (Buckingham). London, Collins, Nov 1974.
Marston, Master Spy (Baines). London, Heinemann, May 1978.
Home to Witchend (Lone Pine). London, Armada, Oct 1978.

Novels as D. J. Desmond
John and Jennifer on the Farm. London, Thomas Nelson & Sons, 1948.

Where the Bus Stopped. Oxford, Blackwell, Apr 1956.
The Flower-Show Hat, illus. Bertram Prance. Worcester, Malcolm Saville Society, Apr 2000.

Country Scrap Book for Boys and Girls. London, National Magazine Company, Oct 1944; revised, London & Chesham: Gramol, 1945.
Open-Air Scrap Book for Boys and Girls. London & Chesham, Gramol, Nov 1945.
Seaside Scrap Book for Boys & Girls. London & Chesham, Gramol, Sep 1946.
The Adventure of the Life-Boat Service. London, Macdonald, Dec 1950.
Coronation Gift Book For Boys & Girls. London, Daily Graphic/Pitkins, Nov 1952.
King of Kings. London, Nelson, Nov 1958; revised, Berkhamsted, Hertfordshire: Lion, Sep 1975; Huntingdon, Ind., Our Sunday Visitor, 1977.
Malcolm Saville's Country Book. London, Cassell, Oct 1961.
Malcolm Saville's Seaside Book. London, Cassell, Apr 1962.
Come to London: A Personal Introduction to the World's Greatest City. London, Heinemann, Apr 1967.
Come to Devon. London, Benn, Apr 1969.
Come to Cornwall. London, Benn, Jul 1969.
Come to Somerset. London, Benn, Mar 1970.
See How It Grows, illus. Robert Micklewright. London, Oxford University Press, Sep 1971.
Eat What You Grow, illus. Robert Micklewright. London, Carousel, Apr 1975.
Portrait of Rye, illus. Michael Renton. East Grinstead, Sussex: Goulden, Nov 1976.
Wonder Why Book of Exploring a Wood, illus. Elsie Wrigley. London, Corgi, May 1978.
The Countryside Quiz Book, illus. Micklewright. London, Carousel, Jul 1978.
The Story of Winchelsea Church. Sussex, Winchelsea Church, 1978.
Wonder Why Book of Exploring the Seashore, illus. Jenny Heath. London, Corgi, May 1979.
Wonder Why Book of Wildflowers Through the Year, illus. Elsie Wrigley. London, Corgi, Sep 1980.
The Seashore Quiz Book, illus. Robert Micklewright. London, Carousel, Jun 1981.
The Silent Hills of Shropshire, with Mark O'Hanlon, illus. John Allsup. Worcester, Mark O’Hanlon, Nov 1998.

Non-fiction as D. J. Desmond
Amateur Acting and Producing for Beginners. London, C. Arthur Pearson, 1937.

Words for All Season, edited by Saville, illus. Elsie and Paul Wrigley. Guildford, Surrey, Lutterworth Press, Aug 1979.

Short Stories
Rain for Saint Swithin's (extract from Jane's Country Year; Best Children's Stories of the Year II, ed. Leonard Gribble, London, Burke, 1947)
Harvest Holiday (Michael & Mary; The Wonder Book for Children, 1948)
The Unwelcome Stranger (Michael & Mary, extract from The Riddle of the Painted Box; Best Children's Stories of the Year III, ed. Leonard Gribble, London, Burke, 1948)
The Flower-Show Hat (Lone Pine; The Guide Gift Book, 1950).
A Strange Couple (Lone Pine, extract from Lone Pine Five; Story Trove, ed. Leonard Burke, London, Burke, 1950)

Stonewall Jackson (by D. J. Desmond; My Garden's Good-Night, ed. Theo A. Stephens, London, My Garden, 1939)
Guardians of Our Coast (Adventure and Discovery for Boys and Girls no.2, London, Jonathan Cape, 1947)
The Eternal Romance of Farming (Discovery and Romance for Boys and Girls no.2, London, Jonathan Cape, 1947)
The World's Greatest Port (Adventure and Discovery for Boys and Girls no.3, London, Jonathan Cape, 1948)
Craftsmanship in a Machine Age (by D. J. Desmond; Adventure and Discovery for Boys and Girls no.3, London, Jonathan Cape, 1948)
The Story of Milk (Discovery and Romance for Boys and Girls no.3, London, Jonathan Cape, 1948)
Warriors of the Sea (The Lasting Victories, London & Redhill, Lutterworth Press, 1948)
London's Fire Fighters (Adventure and Discvoery for Boys and Girls no.5, London, Jonathan Cape, 1950)
My Gardener Smithson (My Garden Bedside Book, ed. Theo A. Stephens, London, My Garden, 1951.
A Little Girl Becomes Our Queen (Mickey Mouse Weekly, 30 May 1953)
Message of the Coronation (The Children's Newspaper, 6 Jun 1953)

Screen Plays
Trouble at Townsend (1946)

Radio Plays
Mystery at Witchend, adapted by Barbara Sleigh (Children's Hour, 1943). Petersfield, Hampshire, David Schutte, Jun 2008.
The Gay Dolphin Adventure (Children's Hour, 1946). Petersfield, Hampshire, David Schutte, 2009.
Seven White Gates (Children's Hour, 1946). Petersfield, Hampshire, David Schutte, 2009.
Redshank's Warning (Children's Hour, Aug 1948)
The Riddle of the Painted Box (1948)
The Buckinghams at Ravenswyke (
The Secret of the Hidden Pool (BBC Home Service, Nov-Dec 1953)

About the Author
Beyond the Lone Pine by Mark O'Hanlon. Worcester, M. O'Hanlon, 2001.

Further reading 
The Complete Lone Pine by Mark O'Hanlon. Worcester, M. O'Hanlon, 1996; revised, Ludlow, Mark O'Hanlon, 2005.

The Malcolm Saville Society.
Malcolm Saville Centenary Website.

The Author (The Malcolm Saville Society)
Malcolm Saville (Wikipedia)

Anthorgraph no.3: Malcolm Saville (Interview by Pat Triggs; Books for Keeps no.3, Jul 1980; still available at internet archive)

The Lone Pine Series by Jim Mackenzie (Collecting Books and Magazines)

(* Updated from its original appearance on 23 May 2009.)