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Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Carlos Roume (1923-2009)

On Monday, various sites noted the death last week of Carlos Gabriel Roume, a leading Argentinean comic artist, painter and sculptor. He died on 26 September 2009 in Tandil in the Buenos Aires Province, aged 86.

Born in Buenos Aires, Argentina, in 1923, he was the ninth son of architect Francisco Roume. He began his professional career in advertising, working for Publicidad Albatros at the age of 22 and then for Publi-Art for two years. He then worked independently, travelling to France at the age of 25 where he again worked in publicity for several years.

Returning to Argentina, Roume began drawing comics featuring the character "Lapacho Juan" in Patoruzito magazine. In the early 1950s, he drew a number of literary adapatations, amongst them "Vida de Lassie" [Life of Lassie] for Editorial Abril, "Robinson Crusoe", "Moby Dick" and "Motin a Bordo" for Pimpinela.

He became more widely known in his native country over the next few years, from 1952 drawing the Tarzanesque character "Sabu" and, from 1957, collaborating with Héctor Germán Oesterheld on various series for Hora Cero: "Nahuel Barros", "Tipp Kenya", 34 episodes of "Patria Vieja" [Old Homeland], and "Pichi".

In 1959, Roume joined other South American artists working for the British market, drawing episodes of "Dick Daring" for Thriller Picture Library and "Buck Jones", "Kansas Kid", "The Gun Tamers" and "Kit Carson" for Cowboy Picture Library. He made the step to weekly comics taking over "Olac the Gladiator" from Ruggero Giovannini in Tiger in 1961-62; other weekly strips followed, including "Blade of the Frontier" (Valiant, 1962-63), "Two Fists Against the World" (Hurricane, 1964), "Rodney Stone" (Ranger / Look & Learn, 1966) and "Black Beauty" (Tina, 1967).

He briefly reprised his role as artist on "Olac the Gladiator" in 1968 and produced short stories and illustrations for Tell Me Why, Princess Tina and World of Wonder in the late 1960s and early 1970s, but was by then employed more heavily elsewhere in Europe. In Italy's Il Corriere dei Piccoli he drew "Hayawatha", "Zane Canon" and "Alazzan".

From the 1970s on, Roume was able to work almost exclusively in his home country, his work including the series "Manquillán, el cóndor perdido" for Clarin magazine and, from 1974, many western series—Roume was always at his best depicting the movement and beauty of horses—for Ediciones Récord. In 1984 he illustrated a special edition of "Martín Fierro" by José Hernández. He continued to draw comic strips for the magazine Fénix until 1995.

Roume remained a popular figure at Argentine comic conventions. In October 2005, he was a guest of honour at the Primer Festival International de Historieta de Morón, which brought together many of the elder statesmen of Argentinean comics.

(* photo found here; "Rodney Stone", adapting the novel by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, and illustration "Horses on the Camargue" both © Look and Learn Ltd.)

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Gerald Verner

There has always been a question mark over the name Gerald Verner. For many years it was thought to be the pen-name of an author named Donald Stuart who wrote prolifically under both names between the 1920s and the 1960s. When Verner (believed to be the name he legally adopted) died on 16 September 1980, his age was given as 84 and long-time fan Bill Lofts believed he had discovered Verner/Stuart's real birth name to be Donald William A. Stewart, born in Hackney in early 1896, which tied in with the birth date given for Verner on his death record (29 January 1896).

However, it now appears that Stewart was a red-herring. Some additional information supplied by Verner's son has recently appeared online which reveals that his birth name was actually John Robert Stuart Pringle. His date of birth is given as 26 June 1897, but further research shows this to be wrong. A lot of tortuous digging comes up with a different date entirely, which doesn't match any of the above.

First a little background. Donald Stuart had made various colourful claims about his background when talking to journalists, saying that he had worked as an actor and a Billingsgate fish-porter at various times. He began writing thrillers for the Sexton Blake Library in 1927 and was a leading light of Union Jack, The Thriller and various other papers in the 1930s as either Stuart or Verner. As Stuart he wrote a play featuring Blake, produced at the Prince Edward Theatre in London in 1930.

In 1933, Verner's first hardcover appeared from Wright & Brown: The Embankment Murder was, in fact, a Sexton Blake yarn (The Embankment Crime) de-Blaked to feature other characters, a common habit amongst Blake's authors throughout the 1930s. Verner, more than any of the Blake authors, recycled ideas, borrowed ideas from other sources and even had other people's novels appear under his (or, rather, Donald Stuart's) name.

Jack Adrian, an enthusiastic studier of Verner and Blake, has said that "During his lifetime he had over 130 books published under four pseudonyms, an oeuvre which may be cut down as much as by half because of recycling earlier material and, at times, outright theft."

Still, Verner was hugely popular with his audience and a favourite of the Duke of Windsor, who was presented with an especially bound set of 15 of Verner's thrillers.

But let's go back to the beginning.

Above is a copy of the baptism record for John Robert Stuart Pringle. I've enlarged the date which reveals that he was born on 31 January 1897, the son of John Charles Rochfort Douglas William Stuart Pringle and Ellen Emma Stuart Pringle.

His parents were both named Pringle when they married—in fact, their marriage certificate records their names as Stuart Pringle, although not hyphenated and what census information I have found always lists the family name as Pringle.

Ellen Emma Pringle was born in Swansea, Glamorgan, around 1876 and was 19 when she married her cousin, John Charles R. D. W. S. Pringle, then 38 and described as a Gentleman.

Ellen was the daughter of Robert Wallace Pringle (born Robert William Pringle, London, 20 May 1840; d. 1915), who had married Francis Campfield Friend (1839-1917) in 1862. Robert was a Professor of Music and lived most of his life in Kent and London, although it was interesting to see that Francis was, for a time around 1871, running a hotel in Worcester while her husband was living in London. The two had a family that included:

Albert John William Pringle (b. Walmer, Kent, 1863), who became an actor
Harry Thomas Pringle (b. Torquay, Devon,1866), who became a musician
Frank Slodden Pringle (b. Newport Pagnell, 1868) who became a clerk in Holy Orders
Arthur Ernest Pringle (b. Newport Pagnell, 1870) who became an actor
Ellen Emma Pringle (b. Swansea, c.1876) who became an actress

Robert's older brother was John Robert Pringle (b. London, 10 April 1831). I've not been able to track him quite so firmly. The Pringle family seems to consist of parents John and Emma, and children Emily, John, Emma Margaret Mercy (b. Hampstead, Middlesex, 1833), Charlotte Isabel (b. Portland Place, London, 2 April 1835; d. Headington, 1918) and Robert William, who can be found living in Margate, Kent, in 1841, moving to Thanet, Kent, in 1851, by which time Emma is a widow. Emma Pringle was living in Newport Pagnell in 1871 (which probably explains why some of Robert's children were born there).

What happens to John R. Pringle in 1861 to 1881... well, he's proving to be a bit elusive, as is his family. In 1901, he is living with his brother, Robert, at 163 Shirley Road, Southampton, a 69-year-old widower. At the same address is his grandson, John R. S. Pringle, aged 4, who would grow up to be Donald Stuart and Gerald Verner.

Young John's father is nowhere to be seen, although his actress mother is boarding at 63 Palace Road, Hornsey, and it seems quite possible that daddy, too, was treading the boards somewhere.

In 1911, 14-year-old John Robert Stuart Pringle was living in Lewisham, still with his grandparents Robert and Frances, but that's as far as I can track him until the appearance of his first Sexton Blake yarn in 1927.

Whilst the above research doesn't reveal as much as I'd have liked, it does seem that John Pringle/Donald Stuart/Gerald Verner was raised primarily by his grandparents and was likely to have been influenced by his mother and uncles to pursue a theatrical career as an actor (or so he claimed) and a playwright.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Warlord : All Action, All Picture, War Stories!

35 Years Ago Today—Warlord: All Action, All Picture, War Stories!
by Jeremy Briggs

In 1974 when many of the other British boys comics were set in their ways, Warlord was a shot in the arm for the market. Its first editor Pete Clark wanted it to look different and decided on having splash panels at the beginning of each strip. Warlord's second editor, Bill Graham, said in an interview on downthetubes, "Pete Clark had great visual flair. He introduced the big opening frames, some taking up the whole page, and cut the number of frames per page to 6 or 7. The artists could then produce great action-packed scenes, ideal for war stories."

Warlord wasn't the first title to do this but it was different enough at the time that IPC decided that they needed to respond. Bill Graham goes on to say, "I heard a story that the day Warlord came out, the managing editor of IPC called all his boys' paper editors together and threw a copy of Warlord on the table and told them they had to get out their version as soon as possible. Battle came out about six months later." The first issue of IPC's Battle Picture Weekly was dated 8 March 1975.

The first issue of Warlord had six different comic strips of which four were set in WWII, and one in WWI. The sixth strip was a prequel strip for DCT's long running character the Wolf Of Kabul entitled Young Wolf and set in British India at a vague time between the two world wars. The very first strip in the issue, Union Jack Jackson, was set in the Pacific during WWII. It had begun as a text story in the story paper version of Hotspur in 1957 followed by a short lived comic strip in the comic strip version in 1962, yet it would go on to become a reader favourite in Warlord and was still popular enough twelve years later to continue on into Victor when the two titles were amalgamated. The reliance on WWII stories remained for much of Warlord's existence although the title did work through Korean and Vietnam stories before moving into the near future with stories like Holocaust Squadron and then on in to the far future with more obvious SF war stories like Sabor’s Army.

Despite the weekly Warlord folding into Victor on 26 October 1986, Warlord summer specials and annuals continued to be published into 1990. Indeed Warlord was successful enough in its early days for DC Thomson to launch a sister (or perhaps that should be nephew) title, an adventure comic in the same vein—Bullet. IPC's equivalent to Bullet was the infamous Action and this time they were not six months behind DC Thomson as the first issue of Action has exactly the same cover date as the first issue of Bullet, 14 February 1976. Ironically enough both would fold into the earlier war titles with Action joining Battle with the issue dated 19 November 1977 and Bullet joining Warlord in issue 220 dated 9 December 1978. It was the only comic to be amalgamated into Warlord.

With Battle and then Action leading to the creation of 2000AD in 1977 perhaps it isn't going too far to suggest that the chain of events that lead to the first issue of the Galaxy's Greatest Comic was started by that first issue of Warlord 35 years ago today.

(* Warlord © DC Thomson and Co Ltd.)

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Comic Cuts: 27 September 2009

For someone who rarely leaves the house, the last week has been particularly busy with a wedding, a birthday and trips to London and a gallery opening on top of the usual sitting around and writing. No wonder I'm knackered.

London proved strangely nostalgic as the underground station I usually use when I'm heading up to IPC has been closed for months for upgrading and will be until late 2011. After a brief panic (I'm a bit OCD about travel plans when they go wrong) I picked up a map and decided to walk, partly because I realised that it wasn't an especially long distance and partly because half the distance was the route I used to take when I worked in London twenty years ago. Back in 1989-90 I was office manager for a company called City Sports & Services, commuting into Liverpool Street every day and then heading across London Bridge. So every day I got to see Tower Bridge, which I found very cool. It never got dull.

I mentioned this to friends in the USA who also thought it was very cool. But not as cool as the next job I had because the next office I worked in looked out over a castle. I swear nobody believed me—I had to send out photos taken out the window just to prove I wasn't winding them up. (You'll have to go with me on this as I don't have any of the photos... this was back in the days of non-digital photography.)

Anyway, I think that's enough nostalgia. Just one more personal message... Happy Birthday Mel!

Back to comics.

Ace Comics in Colchester has been planning to open part of the shop up as an art gallery for some time and had a little launch party on Friday evening. The opening night highlighted the works of Jon Haward (Website, Blog) and John Watson (Website), both very good artists.

The selection of artwork was American-centric. John Watson is, of course, best known for his covers for Marvel and DC, and Jon Haward can pull off a mean superhero image even if most of his time these days is taken up with Classical Comics. Jon had to hand the first copies of The Tempest, the latest Classical Comics' release, which looks astonishing.

It was good to chat with everyone from Ace Comics owner Martin to Comics International's Mike Conroy. It reminds me how much I miss going to conventions and just nattering with everyone. My own fault up to a point—there are now quite a few comic cons in the UK but I usually only roll up to places when I've got something to promote, which is a bit sad but financially prudent. That's freelancing for you.

The evening was a huge success and not as boozy as you'd expect, although I learned the next day that the after-party chat went on until 4.30 in the morning.

(Above) Artist Jon Haward and some of his artwork.

(Above) John Watson and a selection of his work.

A couple of bits of news: the Frank Bellamy's World War 1 book has turned up on Amazon for those of you wanting to pre-order copies. The official release date is November 2009 and I have to admit that, with the six to eight weeks it will take to print and ship, I don't think we'll have copies in time for the ABC Show, which will be on Sunday, 1st November. But don't let that stop you coming along as there's always plenty of other stuff going on.

I recently heard from Martin Gately, like myself an ex-Starblazer writer, who tells me he is currently writing for Moonstone Books (a small independent outfit based in Chicago) and, after a 20-year gap, has reteamed with Enrique Alcatena (my favourite Starblazer artist) to produce The Phantom: Generations #5, due shortly. "The last time I worked with Enrique was on Starblazer #240 (Slayer in the Mist) which I wrote back in 1988. We join the distinguished group of storytellers chronicling the adventures of all 21 incarnations of The Phantom in this maxi-series of comic novellas (i.e. prose and illustration combo accompaniments to Moonstone's regular ongoing Phantom comic)."

Good to hear that some ex-Starblazer folks are gainfully employed and good to know that Alcatena is still working in comics. Thanks, Martin.

And I think that's all the news that's fit to print.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Francis Marshall

Earlier this month, Leif Peng, of the highly recommended Today's Inspiration blog, ran a series of pieces on artist Francis Marshall. I knew nothing about him, but I instantly recognised a couple of the illustrations used as coming from Bible Story as I'd been involved in posting the same images to the Look and Learn picture library.

Briefly, Marshall, born in 1901, studied at Slade before entering the world of advertising illustration. In 1928 he began a 10-year relationship with Condé Nast, drawing for Vogue.

You can see plenty of examples of his work at Peng's blog, starting with this opening piece and progressing through a sampling of Marshall's book Magazine Illustration, illustrations from Rumer Godden's An Episode of Sparrows and various Reader's Digest condensed books in the 1950s, cover illustrations for a variety of Barbara Cartland romances, and a sampling of images from his work for the juvenile market in the 1960s, including Valentine, Bible Story and (I believe) Look and Learn.

(* Artwork © Look and Learn Ltd.; cover from Bible Story issue 25; Jezebel from issue 21, seen here as it was printed and as it was painted.)

Modern Wonder Artists and Authors

Modern Wonder was first published 22 May 1937. It was tabloid in format, published weekly with about 20 pages and cost 2d. It was aimed at boys and young men, containing illustrated articles and stories, often action true-life and science fiction. Some stories were lengthy serials. It was later renamed Modern Wonders, but still keeping to the volume and issue numbers and then in March 1940 it became Modern World. The magazine folded 29 March 1941, probably because of newsprint restrictions.

A consistent feature was articles about science and technology and later-on warfare, illustrated by cutaway drawings, often by Leslie Ashwell Wood and Robert Barnard Way. Another artist later to become famous for marine subjects was Kenneth Brooks. The covers and the centrefold were usually in colour, and the interior page illustrations were usually black and white.

The majority of the artists and writers and now quite unknown, alas.

Tony Woolrich

Sources
Wikipedia article about Modern Wonder.
The full issue-by-issue contents listing can be found at the British Juvenile Story Papers and Pocket Libraries Index, from where the lists of artists and authors have been extracted.

ILLUSTRATORS

Fred Bennett
Kenneth Brookes
Sinclair Calow
Clarkson
Chester
Jack Cigong
Tom Cotterrell
Roland Davies
G. H. Davis
Laurence Dunn
Gabriel
Bryan de Grineau
Anson Gilchrist
R. A. Hallum
J Harris
Harryin
Cyril Holloway
E. M. Hubbard
Norman Keen
Kirkland
Lendon
Savile Lumley
Hugo Molvig
Patrick Nicolle
Frank Norton
T. D. Ward Osmond
Eric R Parker
Frederick Parker
Charles Pears
Pitts
A. O. Pulford
C. P. Shilton
R. Barnard Way
Leslie Ashwell Wood
John Woods

AUTHORS

The Sheikh A. Abdullah
B. Andrews
Bryan Andrews
Capt. A. R. Archer
Peter Barr
E. J. Barrett
Lewin B. Barringer
W. J. Bassett-Lowke
William Beebe
Theos Bernard
Charles Boff
Andrew R. Boone
Kerslake U. Bourne
Gerald Bowman
William S. Boyce
M. Addison Bright
Vincent Brome
B. H. Bryan
Donald Buchanan
Bernard Buley
Malcolm Burr
Walter E. Burton
Clifford Cameron
George W. Campbell
Gerald Carr
Ritchie Calder
Orestes Caldwell
John Cashel
H. T. Cauldwell, Editor
B. Charles
Herbert Clarkson
Sir Alan J. Cobham
V. E. C.
V. E. Collins
Lee Colton
Rudolph de Cordova
Tom Cottrell
John Cory
Rt. Hon. Sir George Courthorpe
Captain John D. Craig
Harold H. U. Cross
R. J. Dalby
Frank Daugherty
Robert Davy
Harry M. Davis
Henry Deekin
Pierre Devaux
Capt. J. E. Doyle
L. T. Dryver
Alan Duncan
John Edwards
Lieut.-Commander Kenneth Edwards
C. Hamilton Ellis
Leonard Engel
Lewis E. D. Essex
Jack Esten
John Russell Fearn
Clive R. Foster
S. Gibbs
Sterling Gleason
Oliver Gordon
W. P. Gordon
V. Edmund Grimley
Arthur Groom
B. T. H.
B. H.
Prof. J. B. S. Haldane
Ben Hamilton
Edwin Heath
J. M. Henderson
James Henderson
Miles Henslow
William Herbert
Michael Higgins
H. B. Hermon Hodge
Bernard Hogben
F. Ratcliffe Holmes
W. Stanton Hope
Sidney Howard
E. H. Hull
J. Hurren
Geoffrey Hutton
Adrian Jackson
J. E. Jackson
Robert Jamieson
Amy Johnson
Earl Johnson
S. S. Johnson
Bobby Jones
Edwin H. Judd
Waldemar Kaempffert
Roger Kafka
G. Keen
G. S. Keen
Manville Keith
M. Keith
Denys A. Kempson
A. J. Kerr
M. R. Knight
R. Knight
Cecil Knowles
Johnston Lane
Peter Langdale
E. J. H. Lemon
Pierre Leroux
Brigadier-General A. C. Lewin
Barry Lewis
Selby Lewis
Lowell M. Limpus
Louis P. Lochner
John E. Lodge
J. L. Longland
Prof. A. M. Low
B. S. M.
Capt. Norman Macmillan
E. G. Malindine
Louis C. Mansfield
Oscar Marcus
Robert E. Martin
Bower Mason
John Allan May
Bryan S. McCann
H. McDougall
Ralph Machealis
Stuart Macrae
Oscar E. Millard
Prof. H. W. Miller
Noel Mitchell
G. F. Morrell
Hugo Movig
A. J. Murray
J. Murray
S. H. Nelson
Roland Nitsche
Karl Nohle
C. A. O.
Carl Olsson
Hedley O’Mant
Desire Papp
D. E. Parkinson
W. J. Passingham
Ewen K. Patterson
James L. H. Peck
Auguste Piccard
George Poole
Gordon Randall
Alex Raymond
George Renwick
Constance Richardson
John Roberts
Leslie Roberts
T. R. Robinson
Keith Rogers
David Le Roi
Flt.-Lieut. Tommy Rose
Richard Rowland
Peter Royce
Dan Russell
Charles W. A. Scott
Hedley Scott
John Scott
Paul Shishkoff
Kenneth Sibley
Anthony Skene
H. C. Skinner
J. Murray Smith
David Seth-Smith
Vernon Sommerfield
Christopher Sparks
Lord Strabolgi
H. Strange
Ralph Stranger
E. V. Sutton
W. A. Swanberg
William Sydney
Edwin Teale
G. Hamilton Teed
Gordon Temple
Michael Terry
G. H. Thomas
R. T. Thomas
Faulkner Thompson
Dr. Frank Thone
R. Tiltman
Bernard Tunbridge
A. Vincent
W. E. Warrilow
Kenneth L. Waters
Roland Wentzel
A. Gowans Whyte
A. P. Luscombe Whyte
Harold T. Wilkins
Thomas H. Wisdom
Alfred E. Wright
Robert Wyndham
A. E. Wynn
Alec G. Yorke
Alec M. Yorke
Alec Yorke
John A. Zellers
Prof. N. N. Zubov

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Gavin Lyall cover gallery

Gavin Lyall "stood in a tradition that went back to Erskine Childers, John Buchan and Dornford Yates," said Peter Gutteridge at the time of the author's death. "He wrote adventures that were both exciting and exceptionally well written."

Like Duncan Kyle, Gavin Lyall was one of the better adventure writers of the 1960s and 1970s, certainly a more stylish writer than Alistair MacLean, a fact recognised by the Crime Writer's Association, who awarded him their Silver Dagger for The Most Dangerous Game and the Gold for Midnight Plus One.

The son of an accountant, he was born Gavin Tudor Lyall in Birmingham on 9 May 1932. He left King Edward VI School in 1951 and qualified as a pilot officer when he joined the RAF to perform his National Service. He attended Pembroke College, Cambridge, reading English, and briefly worked for the Birmingham Gazette before landing a job with Picture Post.

The once famous news magazine was on its last legs by the time Lyall joined and folded a year later, but it was here that Lyall met Katherine Whitehorn, later a long-time columnist with the Observer, whom he married in 1958. He took a job on the Sunday Globe but that, too, was shortly to disappear and Lyall became a producer on the Tonight programme for BBC Television. A year later he joined the Sunday Times as their air correspondent, a position he remained in until the success of his first novel and the impending publication of a second allowed him to turn freelance.

The Wrong Side of the Sky was a straightforward actioner featuring a cargo pilot hero Jack Clay and several millions in stolen jewels but Lyall's handling of flying scenes and handling of characters set the book apart and it immediately found an American publisher. The Most Dangerous Game pitted another pilot hero, Bill Cary, against an American hunter in the wastes of Northern Finland, whilst Midnight Plus One saw morally questionable adventurer Lewis Cane hired to drive a millionaire businessman across Europe to Liechtenstein, the trip enlivened by pursuing crooks and the French police. The film rights to the latter was bought by Steve McQueen, but the film was never made due to McQueen's untimely death.

Lyall continued to turn out engaging thrillers set in exotic locations over the next few years: Shooting Script featured the pilot of a camera plane and a revolution in the Caribbean; Venus with Pistol was about art smuggling in London and Vienna; Blame the Dead saw bodyguard James Card searching for a killer on a trail that leads from Arras to Norway; the Judas Country of his next novel was the Middle East where pilot Roy Case gets involved in smuggling, espionage and murder.

Seven books in 14 years was not a prolific pace; Lyall put it down to laziness but, according to an anonymous obituarist in the Daily Telegraph, "it was actually due more to his concern that details in his writing be technically accurate. He liked checking details, since it put off the job of writing. Lyall spent many nights in his kitchen at Primrose Hill, north London, experimenting to see if one could, in fact, cast bullets from lead melted in a saucepan, or whether the muzzle flash of a revolver fired across a saucer of petrol really would ignite a fire. The results of his research bore fruit in a series of pamphlets on the scientific aspects of thrillers that he edited for the Crime Writers' Association in the 1970s." Lyall was chairman of the CWA in 1967-68.

Another persuasion was the deal he had with Booker, the sugar and investments group, who, in 1964, offered him a similar deal to one they had with Ian Fleming towards the end of his life. In return for a lump sum of £25,000 and an annual salary, they and Lyall split the royalties on his books 51-49.

His love of aircraft led him to edit the anthology The War in the Air 1939-1945: An Anthology of Personal Experiences (1968). He also received a story credit for the SF-thriller Moon Zero Two (1969).

By the mid-1970s, the action novel was beginning to fall out of favour; Lyall responded by creating Harry Maxim, a former SAS officer operating in the world of Whitehall as a Special Services officer and security advisor to the Prime Minister. The Secret Servant, in which Maxim debuted, was based on research Lyall had carried out for an abortive Whitehall BBC TV thriller. The Secret Servant was subsequently filmed by the BBC in 1984 with Charles Dance as Maxim.

With Maxim, Lyall created a character judged by many to be his best creation. "While The Secret Servant and The Conduct of Major Maxim lean towards the le Carré school, there is a lighter touch at work," J. Randolph Cox noted. "Suicides and defectors, guilty secrets and the old school tie: these are serious situations with believable and complex characters and a blessed absence of clichés."

Despite their qualities (The Times believed The Secret Servant was "the richest of all Lyall's books yet", and all four books were widely praised), the cooling of the Cold War meant that the public were also cooling to modern spy fiction. Lyall changed tack a second time and created Harry Ranklin and Conal O'Gilroy, a disgraced, bankrupt military man and an ex-Fenian both despised by their aristocratic masters, as his protagonists for a new series of historical thriller about the early (pre-WW1) years of the secret service. Four novels, beginning with Spy's Honour, appeared in the 1990s.

Lyall died in London on 18 January 2003, aged 70, survived by his wife and two sons.

The Times, recalling Lyall's work, said, "Gavin Lyall was one of the most consistent British thriller writers of the past 40 years, bringing to his books a craftsmanship and professionalism that never became formulaic. He was a master of laconic dialogue, of plotting which was satisfyingly complex and rich in double bluffs and of unobtrusively sketched, often exotic, backgrounds. Above all he was a consummate storyteller and compulsively readable."

It's sad to think that only one of Lyall's novels (Midnight Plus One) is currently in print.

The Wrong Side of the Sky (London, Hodder & Stoughton, 1961; New York, Scribner, 1961)
Pan X488, Mar 1966. Cover by Raymond Hawkey
Pan, 1971. Cover by Chris Foss
Pan 0330-10488-8 [10th imp.], 1983. Cover: photo (Colin Thomas)
Coronet 0340-54416-3, Feb 1991.



The Most Dangerous Game (New York, Scribner, 1963; London, Hodder & Stoughton, 1964)
Pan X487, 1966. Cover by Raymond Hawkey
Pan 0330-10487-X, Oct 1971. 
Pan 0330-10487-X, c.1973. Cover by Chris Foss
Pan 0330-10487-X [13th imp.] 1983, 222pp, £1.50. Cover photo by Colin Thomas
Coronet 0340-53023-5, Aug 1990.

Midnight Plus One (London, Hodder & Stoughton, 1965; New York, Scribner, 1965)
Pan X530, 1966; 1967; 1969. Cover by Raymond Hawkey
Pan 0330-10530-2, 1973. Cover by Chris Foss
Pan 0330-10530-2, [11th imp.] 1983
Coronet 0340-53024-3, 1990.
Orion Crime Masterworks 0-75286717-2, 2005.
Shooting Script (London, Hodder & Stoughton, 1966; New York, Scribner, 1966)
Pan M231, 1967. Cover by Raymond Hawkey
Pan 0330-17304-1, Aug 1973. Cover by Chris Foss
Pan 0330-02059-5, 1979.
Pan, 1986?
Coronet 0-34042975-5, 1989.

Venus With Pistol (London, Hodder & Stoughton, 1969; New York, Scribner, 1969)
Pan, 0330-02759-X, Oct 1971. Cover by Raymond Hawkey
Pan 0330-02759-X, 1973. Cover by Chris Foss
Coronet 0-34051580-5, Feb 1990.


Blame the Dead (London, Hodder & Stoughton, 1972; New York, Viking, 1973)
Pan 0330-24115-X, Oct 1974. Cover by Chris Foss
Pan 0330-24115-X, [6th imp.] 1982. Cover: photo by Colin Thomas
Pan 0330-24115-X [8th imp.] nd (1986?), 285pp, £2.50. Cover: photo by Colin Thomas
Coronet 0340-42976-3, Aug 1989.

Judas Country (London, Hodder & Stoughton, 1975; New York, Viking, 1975)
Pan 0330-24722-0, Jul 1976. Cover by Chris Foss
Pan 0330-24722-0, [3rd imp.] 1982. Cover: photo (Colin Thomas)
Pan, 1986?
Coronet 0340-51581-3, Feb 1990.

The Secret Servant (London, Hodder & Stoughton, 1980; New York, Viking, 1980)
Pan 0330-26456-7, Oct 1982. Cover: photo (Colin Thomas)
Coronet 0340-54417-1, 1991.

The Conduct of Major Maxim (London, Hodder & Stoughton, 1982; New York, Viking, 1983)
Pan 0330-28116-X, Nov 1983.
Pan, 1986?
Coronet 0340-58865-9, 1993.

The Crocus List (London, Hodder & Stoughton, 1985; New York, Viking, 1986)
Pan 0330-29195-5, May 1986.
Coronet 0340-59797-6, Aug 1993.

Uncle Target (London, Hodder & Stoughton, 1988; New York, Viking, 1988)
Coronet 0340-48841-7, 1989.

Spy’s Honour (London, Hodder & Stoughton, 1993; New York, St. Martin’s, 1995)
Coronet 0340-60972-9, Oct 1994.

Flight From Honour (London, Hodder & Stoughton, 1996)
Coronet 0340-68190-X, Apr 1997.

All Honourable Men (London, Hodder & Stoughton, 1997)
Coronet 0340-70855-7, Aug 1998, 298pp, £5.99. Cover by David Scott

Honourable Intentions (London, Hodder & Stoughton, 1999)
Coronet 0340-75077-4, Mar 2000.


NON-FICTION


The Pictorial Story of the Royal Tour of India and Pakistan and the State Visits to Nepal and Iran (London, Pitkin, 1961)

The War in the Air 1939-1945: An Anthology of Personal Experience Volume 2: Freedom’s Battle (London, Hutchinson, 1968; as The War In the Air: The Royal Air Force in World War II, New York, Morrow, 1969)
Arrow Books 0-09004470-3, 1971.
Pimlico 0-71266069-0, Sep 1994.
Pimlico 1-84595074-7, Jul 2007.
Vintage 1-84595084-4, Sep 2007.

Operation Warboard. Wargaming World War II battles in 20-25mm scale, with Bernard Lyall (London, A. & C. Black, 1976)
Pan 0330-25547-9, Nov 1978.