BEAR ALLEY BOOKS

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Monday, January 29, 2018

Paperback Fanatic #39 (February 2018)

There was a scary moment, opening up the latest issue of Paperback Fanatic, when my name leapt off the contents page. Although it appeared halfway down the page as "Steve Holland, the face of a hero", to me it was more like a crash cut in a horror movie: look at the cover, appreciate the cover, look at the contents page, BANG! "STEVE HOLLAND!!!! THE FACE OF A HERO". What the hell? Have you seen the grinning goon in the photo up there on the left? What fool would call that chubby, plain-looking face heroic?


Fear not, gentle reader. It's not an overview of my incredible life (the audio book of which is guaranteed to help you sleep within seconds as I describe in painful detail such thrilling incidents as the filling out of my 2011-12 tax return form and what happened when I couldn't find the Certificate of Interest from my bank), but an article about the actor and model who shares my name.

Although he played the title character on TV's Flash Gordon in the 1950s, it was as a model that Holland found his greatest success. An early modelling job was playing Bob Colt for Fawcett Comics, a fake movie cowboy, and he also became Magnus, Robot Fighter, for Gold Key. But it was as the hero of countless paperback covers, most notably as Doc Savage, the Man of Bronze, that most people will recognise him... or The Avenger, or The Executioner, or even The Man From O.R.G.Y., because Holland was all of them.

Paul Bishop's entertaining article also looks at his work in men's magazines of the sixties and, later in the same issue, there's a comprehensive gallery of the Warner Paperbacks series of Avengers covers.by Peter Caras and George Gross.

Elsewhere in this issue, there's an interview with Andrew Nette, whose Girl Gangs, Biker Boys, and Real Cook Cats I reviewed here recently, in which he relates how the book – and its upcoming sequel – came to be, along with a small selection of his favourite covers from the book.

Another Australian, James Doig, discusses the pulp collection of the late Graeme Flanagan in a talk given at the Canberra Museum and Gallery in 2017, which is littered with fascinating tidbits about Australian pulp writers like the mysterious Gene Janes, whose pulp novel The Night the Z Men Landed became the Mel Gibson-starring movie Attack Force Z, and features some of the best covers from this issue.

Nigel Taylor offers plenty of insight into the works of SF author Keith Laumer, while Tom Tesarek looks at horror spiced with humour, dipping into the works of Charles Addams, Edward Gorey and Gahan Wilson. The issue wraps up with Peter Enfantino's look at the Frankenstein Horror Series published by Popular Library back in 1972, authored by the likes of Paul W. Fairman, Frank Belknap Long and Otto Binder.

It's a fun-packed 100 pages and is available via Amazon for £9.99. Order a penny chew at the same time and you can get free postage.

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