Tuesday, August 11, 2009

These Are A Few Of My Favorite Things...

Despite the information tsunami that is the internet, specialist magazines are still being printed.

The Paperback Fanatic, edited by Justin Marriott, is a must-get for anybody seriously interested in pulp fiction.

It just hit its 10th issue, and, boy!, is it a treat!

There is a great article in this issue about the New English Library sexual manuals of the 60's and 70's. Seems they were inspired by Alex Comfort's bestselling The Joy of Sex.

An amazing tidbit of information is that the pencil illustrations of sexual congress in the book were drawn by Chris Foss, whose incredible paintings of massive starships appeared on the covers of NEL E.E. "Doc" Smith series such as Lensmen and Asimov books like Foundation.

The front and back covers of the issue are by John Holmes (who didn't moonlight as a porn actor). He illustrated dozens of great horror anthologies such as Fontana's Horror Stories and the Horrorscope books by Robert Lory (of Dracula Returns fame).

The interview with Holmes, entitled 'The Incredible Melting Man', provides great insight into this talented chap's approach to his art.

Also of immense interest in this issue is a piece on occult novelist (and legitimate occultist) Gerald Suster, the writer of The Scar, The Force, and The Handyman.

When the latest Paperback Fantatic arrives in the post, I stay up late and read it from cover to cover.

It's the best-researched, most fascinating mag of its type.

Further details are at: http://www.thepaperbackfanatic.com

Arriving on the same day as Paperback Fantatic was the quarterly The Enid Blyton Society Journal (Summer 2009; #39) .

A privately circulated magazine of The Enid Blyton Society, it is a reliable treasure trove of exciting and obscure Blyton ephemera and literary intercourse.

Lovingly edited by Tony Summerfield, whose four-volume Illustrated Biographies are the last word on the subject, it is filled with contributions from professional writers, fans, academics, and those whose lives Enid touched.

In this issue, there is a fascinating piece that asks whether Five on Kirrin Island Again was 'The Famous Five's' most dangerous adventure? Of course, nobody ever died or became a cripple in a Blyton story, but the levels of jeopardy did go up and down. Writer John Lester makes a good case for the book being the best of the series, if not the most jeopardy-filled. That prize he awards to Five Go Off in A Caravan.

I never did trust caravans myself on or off the road. Remember the one in Jose Larraz's Vampyres? The folks camping out in that thing ended up on a sexy vampire's dinner plate.

As is traditional, the centerspread of the journal is a color reproduction of rare Blyton covers and art. As soon as I crack open the envelope and before I start devouring every word, I flip to the center to feast my eyes on magic like this.

William Ferguson's turns in a fascinating article on how he used Blyton's books to teach English in Tajikstan.

And Mr. Pink-Whistle, one of Blyton's strangest creations, earns himself a seven-page literary autopsy by Anita Bensoussane.. Second only to Mr. Meddle for me in popularity, Mr. Pink-Whistle always seemed a rather harsh fellow with his antique disciplinary practices.

Bensoussane points out that modern editions of his stories have been altered. For example, in the original edition of Mr. Pink-Whistle Goes To School , a little girl explains that George and Harry (two bullies) "smack our faces and tramp on our toes". In a later version, she says the boys "pinch our faces and stamp on our toes." In the same story, Pink-Whistle vows to "repay both George and Harry the smacks and slaps and biffs and thuds that they had many a time dealt out to the younger children." In a later reprint, Pink-Whistle vows to "repay both George and Harry for the nasty treatment they had many a time dealt out to the younger children."

To me, it sounds like Pink-Whistle had the wind ripped from his sails. Poor sod.

The sad note of this issue is the official memorial page to Barbara Stoney, Blyton's biographer, who died in March of this year at the age of 84.

On the second last page of this issue, a rare screening of Five Have A Mystery To Solve is announced. It played on August 1st at the National Film Theatre in Southbank, London.

If any reader of this blog attended, please let me know what the film was like. It's never been released on VHS or DVD.

Would have been worth making the trip to London if I'd had more notice.

The six-part series, produced by the Children's Television Foundation in 1964, was combined and released theatrically by Rank Film Distributors.

Fortunately, the August 1 screening has been reviewed on imdb by one "didi-5".

This is what they had to say:

This six-parter, made for the Children's Film Foundation, is a fast-paced, jolly-hockey, and rather fun version of Enid Blyton's novel, 'Five Have A Mystery To Solve'.

Julian, Dick, Anne, their cousin George, Timmy the dog, and for this adventure, Wilfred (who communicates with the animals), find themselves looking after a cottage for the weekend and soon become interested in the mysteries of Whispering Island, a nature reserve owned by the reclusive Sir Hugo.

This being a serial for children it has lots of cliff-hangers, some cartoon bad guys, and several moments for the viewer to cheer or boo. It also has some laughs which will appeal to the adult, but which were perhaps not intended at the time this was filmed.

The five children are generally OK actors, with George and Wilfred being particularly memorable. The serial has its moments of tension which will probably keep young children interested, and the archive print is quite a nice one which is perfectly watchable.

A nice archive print, huh? Hopefully, a DVD release will be considered.

For Blyton fantatics, or those wanting to know much more about her and her fantastic world, The Enid Blyton Society Journal is honey to the eyes and senses.

Website at: http://www.enidblytonsociety.co.uk


Over the next six months, I have two feature films
to finish, a web series to complete, a novel to rewrite, a reality show
to oversee, and too many other creative commitments to list.

As a result, my posts will be reduced to one or two a week.

I hope you folks will still drop in occasionally.

I will still reply to comments and stuff.

You people make this blog worthwhile. Thanks.


  1. This is great stuff! I am totally addicted to your blog!

  2. NIck -- thanks so much. Glad you're enjoying it.

  3. Mark, did you know they made two FIVE films in Denmark around 1970?

    "De 5 og Spionerne" (aka Five and the Spies) and "De 5 i Fedtefadet" (aka Famous Five Get in Trouble). They're on (unfriendly) DVD in Denmark.


  4. Jack J -- I heard a rumor, but I knew no details.

    Thanks so much for these.

    Can you recommend a good Danish on-line site?

    You say unfriendly? You mean re-dubbed. Even so ,I'll still snap them up if I can.

  5. Uh, I somehow left out the word "English"; English unfriendly as the dvds have no English subs. Unfortunately they came out a few years ago and are now OOP but I'll have a look around the web stores.

  6. Jack J -- thanks for this additional info. Have you ever seen these? I'm very curious.

  7. You're welcome. And no I haven't watched any of them, in fact I have never watched any of the film/TV versions of the Five. I don't know what they're like, how good (or not good) they are. I just read most of the books when I was a kid. Nine of them were reprinted 3-4 yrs back.

    If you're interested I could try and get hold of them for you when I get paid (I'm skint right now, LOL). I saw a couple of web-stores that had them a little while back, maybe they still do. Afair they were on sale for around 50 DKK ($10). There were both stand-alone dvds and a double disc with both films.

  8. Jack J -- Wow, that would be great. I'm happy to Paypal you in advance for those. Let me know.

  9. That's alright. Let's see if I can find them first.