Monday, 1 July 2019

152 and counting

The British North American Act, enacted March 29, 1867 by the British Parliament, provided for Confederation of the three British North American colonies, Canada (Upper and Lower), Nova Scotia and New Brunswick. Now much amended as the Constitution Act, 1867, it was proclaimed into law on July 1, 1867 and Canada was born. The first official birthday celebration was in 1868, July 1 being named Dominion Day in 1879 and Canada Day in 1982.

My last two posts discussed Canadian paperbacks in WWII.

Here is one of the 1,159,000 men and women from Canada and Newfoundland who served in that war. This is his record on the Library and Archives Canada website.

Given Name(s):
Date of Birth:
Date of Death:
Flight Lieutenant
Royal Canadian Air Force
Service Number:

F/L Metivier was my uncle. He was the pilot in Lancaster bomber number KB761 when it was shot down over the English Channel after one of the last bombing runs to Germany. He and his aircrew died five weeks before the end of the war.

The first picture is the April 1942 graduating "F" Flight class 46 in Hagersville, Ontario. My uncle is fourth from left in the middle row. The second picture is my uncle with his younger brother at their home in Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario. I still have his uniform.

His log book has the last two entries in another hand, including March 31, 1945 "MISSING".

Wednesday, 26 June 2019

Canadian Paperbacks and WWII Part II

In my last post I discussed a small Canadian publisher's Armed Services paperbacks. As far as I know that is the only effort of this sort in Canada. 

Wm. Collins Sons & Co. Canada started its White Circle imprint in spring 1942, 2 1/2 years after Canada declared war on Germany. Collins did not publish separate services editions but did acknowledge the war and asked its readers to share the books with "your friends in the services". 

White Circle 55 - 1943

White Circle 55 back

White Circle 59 - 1943

White Circle 59 back

White Circle 102 - 1943

White Circle 102 back

Friday, 14 June 2019

Canadian Paperbacks and WWII Part I

recent post on a favourite blog has inspired me to comment on Canadian paperbacks and WWII.

The Americans produced their well-known Armed Services Editions and English publishers their less well-known Services Editions. Canada did not have a similar effort. But there are a few examples of Canadian paperback publishers helping out with getting books to the armed services.

Beaver Publications of Hamilton, Ontario published three books in 1941. They were the first mass market paperbacks published in Canada. All had illustrated covers that were sold on newsstands as well as armed services editions that were packaged as a gift box for families and friends to send to soldiers, sailors and airmen. The covers were coloured for the three services - Canadian Army (tan/yellow), Royal Canadian Navy (blue) and Royal Canadian Air Force (red). I have also seen a blue box.

Beaver Armed Services Gift Box

Thursday, 30 May 2019

Harlequin and the Pulps

Canadian mass market paperback publisher Harlequin's early years overlapped the last years of the pulps. Harlequin started in 1949 and the pulps were gone by the late 1950s.

Two Complete Detective Books was published from 1939 to 1954 - 76 issues in which 151 titles were published (one title was in two issues). Seven of those titles were also published by Harlequin. They are:

9 The Dark Page Fuller, Samuel Michael
10 Here's Blood In Your Eye Long, Manning 
43 The Clean Up Barry, Joe
44 The So Blue Marble Hughes, Dorothy B.
79 Lazarus 7 Sale, Richard
83 Fall Guy Barry, Joe
180 If the Coffin Fits Keene, Day

Harlequin 10 - August 1949

Harlequin 10 back

Two Complete Detective Books 26 - May 1944

Two Complete Detective Books 26 back

Tuesday, 14 May 2019

Harlequin Anniversary

This month is the 70th anniversary for Harlequin Books. Unlike the 60th anniversary Harlequin is not celebrating. This, no doubt, is due to Harlequin's sale a few years ago from Torstar to News Corporation. 

The May 2019 book, From Heiress to Mom, is number 4665 in the Harlequin Romance series. This is a continuance of the original numbering; the longest  numbering sequence of any mass market paperback publisher. Number 5000 should be seen in the first half of 2026 if nothing changes for the series.

Below are May books from 1949, 1959, 2009 and 2019.

Harlequin 2 - May 1949 

Harlequin 2 back

Harlequin 463 - May 1959

Harlequin 463 back

Harlequin Romance 4093 - May 2009

Harlequin Romance 4093 back

Harlequin Romance 4665 - May 2019

Harlequin Romance 4665 back

Saturday, 13 April 2019

Harlequin Artists Part XLI

In my last post I mentioned my recent article on Harlequin artists. Here is the article, excluding the list of artists.

As part of Harlequin Enterprise’s 60th anniversary celebration in 2009 a curtain was slightly drawn back on the many artists that created the Harlequin covers. Heart of a Woman, an exhibit first seen in New York and then Las Vegas, highlighted the work of six artists with samples from many others. Some 150 original works of art were on display. The exhibit, and attendant publicity, was a rare acknowledgement of the mostly long-forgotten artists. Here I want to pull back the curtain a bit more. 

Artists for United States paperbacks have received, thanks to Piet Schreuders (Paperbacks, U.S.A) and others (e.g., Paperback Parade, Paperback Quarterly, Illustration), a great deal of attention over the last 35 years. But, to my knowledge, there isn’t an accurate and complete list of artists for Harlequin and other early Canadian paperback publishers. By 1960 Harlequin had virtually completed the move to an all romance publisher. Over the next fifty-nine years the art has changed but not the genre. However, the art for the first 500 Harlequins (May 1949 to January 1960) is seen on westerns, mysteries, thrillers, science fiction, adventure, non-fiction and others, all in glorious midcentury paperback colour. I have found no evidence that Harlequin had an art director early in its history. Until mid-1957 the editorial office was in Toronto while the books were produced in Winnipeg. One of the owners, Jack Palmer, was the editor until his death in 1954 and may also have handled art director duties. As seen below nearly all the first 500 covers were done by Toronto artists. The art often did not reach the level of that on American paperbacks in the 1950s. 

Harlequin did not acknowledge its artists. The art on 11 of the first 500 covers had been used on an earlier book. The remaining 489 books included seven covers with photographs and one with only text, leaving 481 books with original art. The work of at least 32 artists is seen on these books, some relatively well known, most forgotten and some anonymous. A surprising 304 (63%) covers are signed by 23 artists (22 men, one woman), three of whom are known to be alive in 2018. I have identified the likely artist on 62 of the unsigned covers, meaning 366 (76%) of the covers have identified art. On the remaining 115 books there are 14 covers with the unknown initials or unintelligible signatures of nine artists.

D. Rickard - Harlequin 24 - December 1949

Max Ralph - Harlequin 45 - May 1950

Sid Dyke - Harlequin 366 - August 1956

Friede - Harlequin 210 - July 1953

Tuesday, 19 March 2019

Harlequin Artists Part XL

A new article has just has been published in the award winning journal (Playboy's Journal of the Year, 1999) Paperback Parade. The article is a complete and accurate list of Harlequin artists from 1949 to early 1960 - the first 500 issues. If anyone wants a copy let me know and I'll send a pdf.

Here are a few of the covers reproduced with the article.

Paperback Parade 103 - February 2019

Jack Harman - Harlequin 140 - November 1951

James Derrett McCarthy - Harlequin 157 - February 1952

Wes Chapman - Harlequin 160 - March 1952

Cy Heal - Harlequin 17 - October 1949

Gerald Lazare - Harlequin 64 - July 1950

Sunday, 6 January 2019

Something Different Part I

To start the new year here is a small mid-century Canadian paperback that isn't a Harlequin or White Circle or Crow or any number of other obscure mass-market Canadian publishers.

Published in 1961 (Np: Aleph Press) The Drunken Clock is a 16 page collection of 12 poems by Gwendolyn MacEwen (1941-1987) and her second book.