Friday, November 02, 2012

Sexton Blake Annual 1941

Freelance author and editor Steve Holland, who specializes in old British comics, books, and magazines, has done a great favor for fans of British detective Sexton Blake by recreating the Amalgamated Press Sexton Blake annual for 1941. (He's also recreated the annuals for 1938 and 1940, but we'll get to that.)
   Amalgamated Press started publishing soft cover Blake annuals in 1938, collecting the most popular Blake stories by the top writers on the series. As I've mentioned before, Blake appeared in something like 4000 stories over the decades, reportedly written by 200 or so writers. What Holland has done is recreate these annuals in perfect bound format.
   I was lucky because my current Blake-mania coincided with the release of the 1941 annual, which I spotted over at Bill Thom's Coming Attractions site and immediately ordered. This book is great. It's huge, at 8"X12" inches with a bright, painted cover by semi-legendary Blake artist Eric R. Parker. It contains all the original illustrations from the stories, printed on nice white paper, far superior to the original. Best, of course, is that the book has ten Sexton Blake stories, which carry the great detective and his sidekick Tinker all over the world to solve crimes and foil the schemes of master criminals.
   The first story RIDDLE OF THE CROSS finds Blake in Australia, where he and Tinker rescue a young man who's being beaten by a gang of thugs. A little later they discover a murder that is connected somehow to this man, which leads to more murders and a ruthless criminal. Blake does a lot of Sherlock Holmes style deductions in this one and there's plenty of action.
   Further stories in the annual take Blake to India, Canada, Egypt, Spain, Africa, and the far east. This is a terrific collection of stories, spotlighting the often exotic nature of the Blake stories as well as Blake's skills as a detective. If you've been meaning to give Sexton Blake's adventures a try, this would be a great place to start. I've seen the actual annuals go on Ebay for three or four hundred bucks, so this is definitely a bargain too.
   I was so impressed with the book that I immediately turned around and ordered the annuals for 1938 and 1940, and Holland's website, Bear Alley Books, says that the 1942 annual is on it's way. You can bet I'll be picking that one up as well. The link for the site is:

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