Sunday 23 October 2011

Harlequin Authors Part XI

David Glover, in his introduction to the Oxford University Press edition of Wallace's first novel, The Four Just Men, notes that "Wallace was undoubtedly the most successful and best-loved writer of his generation."

Some 30 years later Harlequin Books published 17 Wallace books giving Wallace third place behind Rene Brabazon (James Hadley Chase and Raymond Marshall) and Lucy Hancock with the most Harlequin titles between 1949 and 1959. Interestingly all 17 books are seen in the last five years (1955-1959) when only 42 crime/thrillers (of a total 163 titles) were published as Harlequin shifted to all romance.

The third Wallace Harlequin is his first novel. The Oxford edition includes the 1908 sequel The Council of Justice.

Harlequin 349 - January 1956

Harlequin 349 back

Oxford University Press - 1995

Oxford University Press back

Export and the "Bomb"

"The automatic atom-splitting process can be likened to loading nervous and high-spirited horses into a corral."

So says Richard Gerstell in the appendix in his How to Survive an Atomic Bomb (New York: Bantam, 1950). In addition to being absurdly optimistic and simple-minded ("reading it will actually make you feel better") about its topic the book was already out of date as thermonuclear bombs are not mentioned.

Earlier in 1950 Export Publishing Enterprises Ltd of New Toronto published Let Out the Beast - "the World destroyed by Atomic Blast in 1965". It is the story of a "peace-loving journalist" who lives after the "world is suddenly enveloped in the blasting flames of a gigantic atomic explosion".

Bantam 845 - September 1950

Bantam 845 back

News Stand Library 18A with DJ - January 1950

News Stand Library 18A with DJ back

Thursday 20 October 2011

The Time Machine Part VII

The Time Machine (1895) has been adapted for comic books a number of times. The most famous is Classics Illustrated #133 first published in 1956. A lesser known version is the second issue in the 1976 Marvel Classics Comic series. This is a first rate production - from the cover art by Gil Kane to the very effective story art by Alex Nino. The adaptation by Otto Binder is faithful to the original. Interesting that Kane based his version of the machine on the earlier Lou Cameron one.

Sunday 16 October 2011

Harlequin Thick and Thin

Which Harlequin Book published between 1949 and 1959 is the thinnest? The thickest?

The thinnest, Crescent Dream Book and Fortune Teller, is 96 pages. The thickest is a group of fourteen, each clocking in at 320 pages. All were published in a fifteen month period between December 1951 and February 1953 - 141, 150, 152, 157, 164, 179, 188, 189, 195, 196, 213, 214, 216, 217. Here are the first four, all tagged as "Jumbo Giant".

Harlequin 150 - January 1952

Harlequin 152 - February 1952

Harlequin 157 - February 1952

Harlequin 164 - April 1952

Harlequin 452 - March 1959

Tuesday 11 October 2011

David Spencer and Wm. Collins

By late 1946 mass market paperbacks were sold in an estimated 6,000 outlets in Canada:

a) Chain stores – national such as Woolworth, Kresge, Metropolitan and Zellers; regional such as Stedman’s [sic] and Beamish; United Cigar Stores; railway station stands run by The Canadian Pacific Railway News Department and The Canada Railways News Company.
b) Other retailers – in smaller cities and towns through drugstores or general stores.
c) Newsstands – where they were introduced by wholesale news dealers who handled paperbacks along with magazines.

Over the next decade the number of outlets grew to an estimated 9,000 to 10,000.

The 6,000 figure is from Ronald J. Cooke, “Books in Canada”, Canadian Business, October 1946, p. 39.
The list of outlets is from Report on the Canadian Book Trade 1944 (Toronto: Book Publisher’s Branch of the Board of Trade of the City of Toronto, 1944), pp. 23-25.
The 10,000 figure is from Ronald J. Cooke, “The Lure of the Pocket-book Ladies”, Canadian Business, November 1949, p. 130. The 9,000 figure is from in Robert Weaver, “Two-Bit Culture,” The Canadian Forum, July 1953 p. 78.

One of the regional chains not mentioned in the Report on the Canadian Book Trade is British Columbia's David Spencer Limited. In 1942 Spencer's sold the new White Circle Pocket Novels from Wm. Collins & Sons Canada Ltd. Below is one of these books sold in the fall of 1942 at Spencer's.

White Circle T - 1942

White Circle T - inside back cover

Monday 10 October 2011

Harlequin and the RCMP Part II

The North-West Mounted Police was established in 1873 as a paramilitary police force to maintain law and order, and to be a visible symbol of Canadian sovereignty, in the newly acquired North-West Territories (including present-day Alberta and Saskatchewan). "Royal" was added to its name in 1904, and in 1920 the RNWMP merged with the DOMINION POLICE to form the ROYAL CANADIAN MOUNTED POLICE.

Harlequin Books loved the RCMP. Eleven of the 497 books Harlequin published between 1949 and 1959 were about the RCMP. Plus one more in 1960. With three of the books reprints there were nine titles in total. Here are two more from Harlequin - The Flaming Forest (New York: Cosmopolitan Books, 1921) and Devil's Portage (London: Cassell, 1940). Plus the American magazine True Detective Mysteries from July 1932 (Vol. 18 No. 4).

Harlequin 406 - November 1957

Harlequin 406 back

Harlequin 414 - February 1958

Harlequin 414 back

True Detective Mysteries - July 1932

Sunday 9 October 2011

Harlequin How-to Books

Harlequin Books published 477 titles between 1949 and 1959 and 11 non-romance books from 1960 to 1963 (none later). Thirteen of the 488 titles were "how-to". How to curl, how to cook, how to knit and more. Here are the 13 - more information in earlier and still-to-come posts.

Harlequin 51 - May 1950

Harlequin 52 - June 1950

Harlequin 71 - August 1950

Harlequin 161 - March 1952

Harlequin 186 - August 1952

Harlequin 271 - January 1954

Harlequin 391 - April 1957

Harlequin 415 - March 1958

Harlequin 442 - November 1958

Harlequin 452 - March 1959

Harlequin 457 - April 1959

Harlequin 550 - 1960

Harlequin 635 - November 1961

Tuesday 4 October 2011

Harlequin and Noel Coward

Noel Coward wrote one novel - Pomp and Circumstance (London: William Heinemann, 1960). Not surprisingly it was never reprinted by Harlequin Books. But Coward did make an appearance on the cover of a Harlequin Book.

Harlequin 436 - September 1958

Harlequin 436 back

Monday 3 October 2011

Harlequin and Mills & Boon Part I

Mills & Boon is the largest UK publisher of romance fiction. A "Mills & Boon" romance is as well known there as a "Harlequin" romance is in the rest of the world. Harlequin Enterprises has owned Mills & Boon for some 40 years. But the relationship reaches further back - to 1957. With Harlequin's romance books outselling the other genres, Harlequin contacted Mills & Boon to see if the Canadian reprint rights to their books could be purchased.

They could and the first Mills & Boon reprint was The Hospital in Buwambo by Anne Vinton. A further 46 followed in 1958 and 1959 - 50% of the 90 books published during those two years. Through the '60s nearly every book Harlequin published was a Mills & Boon reprint. Here are four early ones.

Harlequin 407 - December 1957

Harlequin 407 back

Harlequin 416 - March 1958

Harlequin 423 back

Harlequin 423 - May 1958
original title - City Nurse

Harlequin 423 back

Harlequin 431 - July 1958

Harlequin 431 back

Saturday 1 October 2011

Harlequin Reprints Part VIII

No one will be surprised to read that the most popular Harlequin Books from the first ten years were the romances. One measure is the number of romances that had multiple printings and editions or issues over many years. An example is Love is My Reason by Mary Burchell, first published by Mills & Boon (London: 1957). The Harlequin printings are:

first - November 1959
second - 1960 (not seen) 
third - 1971
fourth - 1972 (not seen)
fifth - 1974
sixth - 1980 (not seen)

All of these printings use the original number - 494. There are two renumbered editions or issues published in reprint series:

Harlequin Collection 128 - 1978 (not seen)
Harlequin Classic Library 136 - September 1983 (not seen).

Below are the first, third and fifth printings. The back cover copy is the same in each printing but reset. The third printing's generic cover is seen on many reprints from the era.

Harlequin 494 first printing - November 1959

Harlequin 494 third printing - 1971

Harlequin 494 fifth printing - 1974

Harlequin 494 first printing back

Harlequin Artists Part IV - Paul Anna Soik (1)

Harlequin Books published 497 books between May 1949 and December 1959. Eleven covers were reprinted and eight books had text or photo only covers leaving 478 covers with new art.

Of all the long forgotten artists who whose work is seen on the first ten years of Harlequin Books no one did more covers than Paul Anna Soik. He was one of six artists in the 2009 Harlequin Cover exhibition. I have learned nothing about him.

The cover of Conflict by E. V. Timms was the first of Soik's 90 (18.8% of the total) for Harlequin to the end of 1959. Here is that cover plus the second through fourth of his covers.

Harlequin 276 - February 1954

Harlequin 280 - April 1954

Harlequin 283 - March 1954

Harlequin 287 - March 1954