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Sunday, February 17, 2008

Picture Adventure Books

We've stumbled across quite a few curious things as we've been doing into the Thriller Comics Library for the upcoming index and, I'm pleased to say, resolved nearly all of them. But Geoff West has turned up a new mystery which I'm going to throw to the world.

It involves a Canadian edition of Thriller Comics under the title "Picture Adventure Books". Only one is known to exist -- an adaptation of The Last of the Mohicans which was originally published as Thriller Comics #15 in June 1952. All well and good. A Canadian edition isn't out of the question. The cover is identical to that of the original Thriller edition (above).

Well, Geoff has just sent me a scan of the back cover and it lists a total of 20 titles, with The Last of the Mohicans as the first.

The question is... were any of the other titles published?

I've not been able to find copies of any of these titles listed anywhere -- not even the one we know to exist -- although I did find out a little something about the Brunswick Press who published it/them after a bit of digging around the Canadian National Archive.

The Press was set up by Michael Wardell who had joined Beaverbrook Newspapers in London in 1926 after a career in the military. With the outbreak of the Second World War he rejoined the army and finally retired with the rank of Brigadier in 1946. He returned to Fleet Street and eventually became vice-chairman to the Beaverbrook organisation.

In 1950 he came to Fredericton, in New Brunswick, Canada, and bought the Daily Gleaner. He then established the University Press of New Brunswick Ltd. with its subsidiary, Brunswick Press. He also purchased the Maritime Advocate, relaunched as the Atlantic Advocate. Wardell acted as Lord Beaverbrook's representative in New Brunswick, providing him with advice and information on a wide range of affairs. In the late 1960s, Wardell sold his controlling interest in the Gleaner to industrialist K. C. Irving. Wardell died in 1978, aged 83.

Of the titles listed, The Count of Monte Cristo appeared in September 1953 as Thriller Comics #45, which I suspect means that the "Picture Adventure Books" series appeared in 1953 or 1954. I'd be amazed to learn that all 20 titles appeared... it's unusual for a whole series like this to be unknown to hardcore comics collectors. But did it fold after only one issue?

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