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SCANDAL STREET: the banned Sexton Blake book

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  • SCANDAL STREET: the banned Sexton Blake book

    Hello Mike,

    It's more than a year since my last visit. You may remember me as the owner/proprietor of sextonblake.co.uk. Due to real life interfering, the site hasn't seen an update for an age... but there's a big relaunch scheduled for October, with a mass of new material.

    Anyway, to business: I recently discovered that in 1957 an issue of the SBL was blocked from publication. The story was called SCANDAL STREET. Apparently HOMICIDE BLUES was rushed into print to take its place. This same crisis is thought to have resulted in a complete revision of PANIC IN THE NIGHT.

    I just wondered whether you had any further information about this? I suspect it may have occurred before your involvement with SBL... but if any memories are jogged and you can cast a light on the matter, I'd be very grateful. In particular, I want to find out who the author was. I thought it might be Stephen 'Hank Janson' Frances... but it might be before his time too, as his first published SBL was in 1961.

    Cheers

    Mark

  • #2
    Hi, Mark,
    As I recall the chief reason for the changes was that the authors hadn't completed them in time, but it's possible that Len Matthews, at that point department head in our bit of Fleetway, thought the title a bit too racey for SBL and demanded a change. I don't remember Bill talking about this and, as you say, it was a bit before my time there. By and large we didn't get much interference from the Fleetway bosses as we were considered a bit of a sport -- a law unto ourselves, essentially. And because Bill's policies had put the circulation back up, he was tolerated. The only thing I can think of is that authors were late with revisions. I do have a nagging memory about Panic in the Night, which I think Bill wrote himself, didn't he ? What was the author's name, do you remember ?
    Steve Frances's manuscripts were pretty bad and I wasn't aware he had written any Blakes, but they would have required an awful lot of general editing. His grammar and spelling were, let's say, much improved by a good copy editor -- or even my then mother-in-law who typed his Spanish trilogy for him and didn't just change grammar and spelling but also some of the dates as well! Steve was a very nice guy, but not the smoothest writer in the business.

    Pre-order or Buy my latest titles in Europe:
    The Whispering Swarm: Book One of the Sanctuary of the White Friars - The Laughter of Carthage - Byzantium Endures - London Peculiar and Other Nonfiction
    Doctor Who: The Coming of the Terraphiles - Kizuna: Fiction for Japan - Modem Times 2.0 - The Sunday Books - The Sundered Worlds


    Pre-order or Buy my latest titles in the USA:
    The Laughter of Carthage - Byzantium Endures - London Peculiar and Other Nonfiction - The Sunday Books - Doctor Who: The Coming of the Terraphiles
    Kizuna: Fiction for Japan - The Sundered Worlds - The Winds of Limbo - Modem Times 2.0 - Elric: Swords and Roses

    Comment


    • #3
      Hi Mike

      According to a letter published in an old copy of Collector's Digest (which has resubmerged into an impenetrable morrass of manuscripts -- I'm currrently hunting for it), SCANDAL STREET may have been blocked by the government. But surely the Home Office (presumably) wouldn't have interfered until AFTER publication? And SCANDAL STREET most definitely was not ever published.

      According to my records, PANIC IN THE NIGHT was written by James Stagg; your predecessor as sub-editor? This, and HOMICIDE BLUES, were supposedly heavily revised and rushed into print as a result of the SCANDAL STREET crisis (if there was one). I have BLUES accredited to Desmond Reid and haven't been able to identify the author behind the house name -- so maybe Bill Baker?

      The interesting thing is that - if there's any truth to the rumoured crisis - it came not long after the Janson trials... but go a bit further back in time and there are one or two pretty racy SBLs quietly lurking in obscurity. I'm thinking specifically of THE CASE OF THE NIGHT LORRY DRIVER by Lewis Jackson (Jack Lewis) which was published in 1946 and has as its theme an innocent man accused of a violent sex crime... he's referred to as a 'sex lunatic'!

      Stephen Frances wrote under the house name of Richard Williams: VENDETTA!, TORMENT WAS A REDHEAD, SOMEBODY WANTS ME DEAD, HIGH SUMMER HOMICIDE, THE SLAYING OF JULIAN SUMMERS, THE MAN WITH THE IRON CHEST and THE SNIPER. I think the first four of those were published during your time with SBL (SOMEBODY WANTS ME DEAD was the issue numerically preceeding CARIBBEAN CRISIS). Some of these stand out in that they are much more structurally creative than many of the more run-of-the-mill SBLs of the period. Like Jack Trevor Story, Frances played with the format with some rather impressive results. Interesting to hear about the messiness of his manuscripts though!

      The re-launch of sextonblake.co.uk is just days away. I'll post here to let you know when it's done and dusted and available for viewing.

      Best wishes

      Mark

      Comment


      • #4
        Sounds like a bit of hype to explain late delivery to me, Mark. Not the first time it's been done. Caribbean Crisis, I should point out, was published long after I'd left SBL, so that's no doubt why I never came across Steve while at SBL (apart from a couple of social occasions which happened to coincide). Jim Stagg was certainly an SBL regular (indeed a Fleetway regular who, if I'm remembering right, also did some post-Steve Frances Jansons). Usually Desmond Reid was put on a book which Bill had doctored himself (sometimes doing little more than change a few sentences, enough to justify paying the author less and himself more!) so it could have been anyone. Generally Desmond Reid didn't turn up as a regular but as a one-off (as was mine). I thought Richard Williams was another name used for what are these days called fixer uppers -- again, books which Bill would decide were substandard and then 'rewrite'. Frequently this rewriting would consist of little more than getting his regular typist to retype the manuscript though in my case, of course, he changed the entire political bias from pro-Castro to anti-Castro! We always were on opposite sides of the political fence, though I think it was Bill who had decided I was a Communist (which I never was) largely no doubt because I didn't approve of his belonging to the Union Movement (in its earlier incarnation the British Union of Fascists) and was part of a group trying to get what became the Race Relations Act into law! For all my dislike of his politics and my disapproval of his editorial morals, I continued to like Bill and had a very large soft spot for him right to the end (when he had been conning Jack Story and Jack's ex-wife Ross in exactly the same way he had on SBL -- Jack felt the same as I did!).
        I agree, by the way, that for all his bad spelling and grammar Steve really could come up with some nifty plotting. Don't want you to think I was belittling him, either. After all, there wouldn't have been a NW without him, when he was working for Pendulum Publications.

        Pre-order or Buy my latest titles in Europe:
        The Whispering Swarm: Book One of the Sanctuary of the White Friars - The Laughter of Carthage - Byzantium Endures - London Peculiar and Other Nonfiction
        Doctor Who: The Coming of the Terraphiles - Kizuna: Fiction for Japan - Modem Times 2.0 - The Sunday Books - The Sundered Worlds


        Pre-order or Buy my latest titles in the USA:
        The Laughter of Carthage - Byzantium Endures - London Peculiar and Other Nonfiction - The Sunday Books - Doctor Who: The Coming of the Terraphiles
        Kizuna: Fiction for Japan - The Sundered Worlds - The Winds of Limbo - Modem Times 2.0 - Elric: Swords and Roses

        Comment


        • #5
          Re: Sexon Blake

          Hi Mike

          Interesting... you give me a feel for the SBL dept at Fleetway which I find intriguing. I'm working to collect and preserve as many of the SB stories as possible -- and also to read them, publish the details and share my thoughts online. Obviously this covers nearly a century's worth of material and the so-called 'New Order' novellas make up a fairly small chunk of that huge creative output from 200+ authors. Strange that I can't help but regard the New Order as 'recent' - even though the run ended when I was just 12 months old!

          Mike, I could really do with communicating with you off-forum, as it were, with regard to your time at Fleetway and Sexton Blake... not just in relation to the soon-to-relaunch sextonblake.co.uk but also because there's a Blake rumour flying around at the moment which I need to throw in your lap, see what happens. Is that acceptable and, if so, what's the procedure?

          Best wishes

          Mark

          Comment


          • #6
            Re: Sexon Blake

            Originally posted by stilettoblade
            Mike, I could really do with communicating with you off-forum, as it were, with regard to your time at Fleetway and Sexton Blake...
            May I humbly request that if you glean any biographical or, indeed, bibliographical, information from Mike, if the above happens, that you share it with our resident biographer/bibliographer; demos99.
            It really would be for the greater good, he's doing a very good job.
            Thanks. :)
            You see, it's... it's no good, Montag. We've all got to be alike. The only way to be happy is for everyone to be made equal.

            -:-:-:-:-:-:-:-:-:-:-:-:-:-:-:-:-:-:-:-:-:-:-:-:-:-:-:-:-:-:-:-:-:-:-:-:-:-:-:-:-:-:-:-:-:-:-:-:-:-:-:-:-:-:-:-:-:-:-:-

            Image Hive :-: Wikiverse :-: Media Hive

            :-: Onsite Offerings :-:


            "I am an observer of life, a non-participant who takes no sides. I am in the regimented society, but not of it." Moondog, 1964

            Comment


            • #7
              Re: Sexon Blake

              [quote="Governor of Rowe Island"]
              Originally posted by stilettoblade
              May I humbly request that if you glean any biographical or, indeed, bibliographical, information from Mike, if the above happens, that you share it with our resident biographer/bibliographer; demos99.
              It really would be for the greater good, he's doing a very good job.
              Thanks. :)
              Absolutely and emphatically yes. You may also be interested to know that in my (currently offline) update of sextonblake.co.uk, on the links page, I have provided a link to Moorcock's Miscellany, together with a glowing report of the fabulous work done here. The relaunch is currently scheduled for next weekend.

              Comment


              • #8
                May I humbly ask if you are linking to jacktrevorstory.co.uk ?

                http://www.jacktrevorstory.co.uk/

                http://www.jacktrevorstory.co.uk/sexton_blake.htm

                Happy to link to your update and feature the update as a "news item", of course

                Comment


                • #9
                  Originally posted by GuyLawley
                  May I humbly ask if you are linking to jacktrevorstory.co.uk ?
                  Yup, Guy Lawley's site is of huge interest to any self-respecting Sexton Blake officianado. Also linking to Jess Nevins' various pages.

                  I've spent the past six months on this update and, frankly, I'm absolutely exhausted! Just a few more tweaks and scribbles to go and, finally, it'll be posted onto the live server and I can lay down in a darkened corner for a while.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Thanks very much!

                    BTW, on the subject of self-censorship (or maybe outside censorship) at the SBL, I'm reminded that I have an instance of a cover painting being toned down on this page (Crime of Violence, no.403):

                    http://www.jacktrevorstory.co.uk/new_page_52.htm

                    I hope you enjoy your nice lie down.

                    I can feel one coming on myself.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Thank you for your generosity.
                      Though I'm sure demos won't be grateful to me for potentially adding to his workload.
                      You see, it's... it's no good, Montag. We've all got to be alike. The only way to be happy is for everyone to be made equal.

                      -:-:-:-:-:-:-:-:-:-:-:-:-:-:-:-:-:-:-:-:-:-:-:-:-:-:-:-:-:-:-:-:-:-:-:-:-:-:-:-:-:-:-:-:-:-:-:-:-:-:-:-:-:-:-:-:-:-:-:-

                      Image Hive :-: Wikiverse :-: Media Hive

                      :-: Onsite Offerings :-:


                      "I am an observer of life, a non-participant who takes no sides. I am in the regimented society, but not of it." Moondog, 1964

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by Governor of Rowe Island
                        Thank you for your generosity.
                        Though I'm sure demos won't be grateful to me for potentially adding to his workload.
                        :x :x

                        Nah, only kidding! It's all good. :lol:

                        The problem is keeping track of all the leads people keep coming up with. :dizzy:
                        _"For an eternity Allard was alone in an icy limbo where all the colours were bright and sharp and comfortless.
                        _For another eternity Allard swam through seas without end, all green and cool and deep, where distorted creatures drifted, sometimes attacking him.
                        _And then, at last, he had reached the real world – the world he had created, where he was God and could create or destroy whatever he wished.
                        _He was supremely powerful. He told planets to destroy themselves, and they did. He created suns. Beautiful women flocked to be his. Of all men, he was the mightiest. Of all gods, he was the greatest."

                        Comment


                        • #14
                          1) If it's a proposition, he should send it to your agent.

                          2) If it's private, he should pass you his email address that he used to sign up onto M's Miscellany within this thread.

                          3) If it's not sensitive and he's mining for information about your career, I invite him to do so in this forum. That's what it's for! :-)

                          Honestly, you don't want me bottlenecking the dialog between the two of you.
                          The cat spread its wings and flew high into the air, hovering to keep pace with them as they moved cautiously toward the city. Then, as they climbed over the rubble of what had once been a gateway and began to make their way through piles of weed-grown masonry, the cat flew to the squat building with the yellow dome upon its roof. It flew twice around the dome and then came back to settle on Jhary's shoulder. - The King of the Swords

                          Comment


                          • #15
                            Sexton Blake

                            Originally posted by Michael Moorcock
                            Mark -- maybe you could send your query c/o berry ?
                            Will do, Mike, in the morning.

                            Comment

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