PAN Fans

Let's talk about PAN paperbacks – the blog for

PAN Fans - Let's talk about PAN paperbacks – the blog for

“On The Road”, jogging and a trilogy?

Last year I was contacted by author Steve Turner regarding ‘On The Road’ by Jack Kerouac and asking if I knew who the cover artists was? Although I’ve never been able to discover for certain who it might be, or where the original artwork is, I have long suspected it could be by Hans Helweg as he was prolific around the early 60’s with several that can be attributed to him very close number wise and in the same style.

‘The Voice at the Back Door’ is number X77 and definitely has HH on it while ‘On The Road’ is X84 and I can Image there is possibly a similar H on that? I contacted Sue Helweg, Han’s widow and she kindly replied “I don’t know for sure about the Kerouac but it is certainly very much like his work – I will see if I can track down any further info. I do still have a good deal of his original work”

Steve wrote a book published in 1996 on Kerouac called ‘Angelheaded Hipster’ and he is hoping to write another following the trail in ‘On The Road’ taking photos of the book in the locations mentioned. Steve has kindly sent me some examples shown HERE

I have a list of titles that I’ve come across on other peoples websites and if I see them for sale somewhere economically priced I might buy them but they are not top of the list. One was ‘The Complete Jogger’ by Bruce Tulloh which seemed to be very elusive but I then realised I was looking for ‘Tulloch’ and not ‘Tulloh’, suddenly hundreds of copies! Interestingly the runner on the cover is the late Simon Master who just happened to be around when they need someone to be photographed. Simon was at PAN in the 1970’s and in his obituary it says “Most people in publishing would have recognised Simon from the 1970s and ‘80s, a tall distinguished figure with impossibly thick-rimmed glasses. He and Sonny Mehta became legends from their time at Pan and Picador; Simon was first publishing director at Pan, then chief executive—the youngest head of a major publishing company at the time—from 1979 until 1987. Patrick Janson- Smith once summed up the Golden Age of paperback publishing as “Mehta & Master” Now I don’t want to name drop but as I said to Sonny at the PAN 70th birthday bash ……!

Just wondering why PAN only published two of the three titles in Victor Canning’s ‘Smiler’ series. I thought it might be because the third part was written much later than the other two but the hardback version was published in 1974. Puffin published all three titles in 1979.

Double Title Spreads, Robert Rankin and “Why?”

Having found a couple of authors where two of their titles are linked by the cover artwork I’m wondering if there are any more? I know some of the PAN/Ballantine’s (all titles will be added eventually) have the artwork from the front of one on the back of another plus the Julian May panoramas. I’ve put a couple of examples HERE although I had to fiddle the Tevis covers to line up by taking a bit off the top of one and a bit of the bottom of the other but no such problem with the Harris. I’ve emailed Paul Roberts, the artist who painted ‘Bodyguard 2’ used for the Thomas Kyd covers, but no reply so far.

Just because I have them to hand I’ve put the three Robert Rankin titles in the ‘Brentford Trilogy’ on a page. Not sure why they all had to have so disparate covers and did Rankin have a falling out with PAN in that they didn’t publish any of his later titles of which there are nine in this series?

Sometimes I look at something and wonder ‘Why’, is this art or just a way to spoil a good book? If you are keen to have something like this by Dave Buonaguidi you’ll need to outbid the current one of £50!


AIRPORT at last, Leominster and Victor Canning.

It was last Wednesday when the edition of ‘AIRPORT’ I’ve mentioned several times before eventually arrived from France and now means I have a name for the cover artist – Chris Moore.

I recently discovered I still had a 91 year old Aunt living in a care home in Leominster so popped over to see her last week but it also meant I could visit the antiques centres so often used on the BBC TV programme ‘Bargain Hunt’ (see ‘‘PAN as Seen on the TV’ although don’t think any are from Leominster) I was really pleased to see Stan who often appears as the one contestants haggle with. I’d heard it was all prearranged and when I asked Stan he said “I couldn’t possibly comment!”I ended the day with five books and amazingly when I got home found I’d only got one already. It’s more often the other way around. One of them was another Victor Canning title from the late 70’s series, namely ‘The House of Seven Flies’ in unread condition. It cost me all of £1.00 and I didn’t think it was worth haggling for.

Talking of television, and nothing to do with books, I had a starring role on TV as a litter picker. Our work to clear an old railway line made the local news as part of their ‘Active Autumn’ series. We thought it was for things to do in Autumn but appears to be referring to the stage of life of the participants!. I was asked to speak but I let 80 year old Brian do it as he’d bought a new hat!

As a foot note I’m often asked about my attire having both sweatshirts and fleeces with the PAN logo on as in photo above of me with Stan. It’s not really that I’m that dedicated (I hear my wife laughing for some reason or other?)  it’s just the website I get them from has a great range of colours, unlike shops, are competitively priced and the logo comes FREE! Who can resists a freebie!

Books sold, Algernon, Post and Puzzle (for me anyway)

Last Monday I was actually partaking in an activity where I received money rather than giving it out all the time. I bit the bullet and took a large amount of my duplicate PAN’s to Astley Book Farm where I got paid for them. They were a very mixed collection and in all conditions but I was more than happy with the outcome. I have had several wants lists from fellow collectors and I don’t think any titles on those lists were included. Amazingly I came away without buying a book but I’d forgotten what a good shop Astley is and will be returning soon.

After mentioning recently the fact PAN often produced several film tie-ins and wondering why I picked up a copy of ‘Flowers For Algernon’ by Daniel Keyes which showed PAN didn’t always ‘push the boat out’ to publicise film tie-ins as it just has a sticker on it.

When I put the Hailey ‘Airport’ covers on last week I was hoping that by now I would have received the copy I found in France and so have accurate date etc. I have tracked it for the last two weeks via several places in France and Germany where it appears to be stuck. I’m also waiting for a couple of titles from eBay I bought on August 14th but the delivery date hasn’t run out yet! I think I’ll stick with books from Australia as they seem to arrive in days but I think my fastest record from a non UK source is one from San Francisco bought on a Monday which arrived on the following Wenesday. The record from the longest was ten months from Canada. The seller decided it was lost and gave me my money back. I later told him it had arrived but he kindly said it was now a present.

A couple of weeks ago, on a Facebook site for vintage paperbacks and pulps, I was nominating ‘Sam Chard’ by Don Bannister as a candidate for an awful cover award but then said I turned it over to find a small picture. This looks really familiar but I just can’t think where I’ve seen it before, as another cover perhaps, does anyone recognise?

Spotted this optimist on eBay last week. There were no takers for either of them and I wonder how many times the seller will reduce them till they get to a realistic level?

STOP PRESS The copy of ‘Airport’ from France is now somewhere in the UK!

Hailey’s Airport, another Classic and a booksellers shop.

I’m still intrigued as to why PAN felt the need to bring out so many different covers for the same title sometimes very close together. One example is ‘AIRPORT’ by Arthur Hailey with two editions from 1970, one from 1978 and another from 1979. The first two are both film tie-ins and the later ones sort of go with the different series covers. I’ve also included a couple of titles from film spin offs.

A while ago I started a page of covers of the early to mid 70’s PAN Classics series. I thought I had most of them until I popped into a local charity shop and amongst the few books on the shelf was a copy of ‘Wuthering Heights’ and I hadn’t got it. I had to think carefully about spending all of 50p even though it was buy one get one free …………..! This really doesn’t happen very often these days as anything published in the ‘last century’ doesn’t appear to be worth putting on the shelves in most charity shops.

I’ve previously mentioned my Great Great Great Grandfather Charles Lowe, who had a second-hand book shop in Birmingham, as my excuse for not being able to stop buying books although it doesn’t really convince my wife. I’ve tried to track down a photo of his premises for quite a while and have just found one in the Birmingham Library’s archives. It’s from around 1889 showing the shop as ‘To Let’  as looking in trade directories he is not listed in 1888 but as being there in 1890. Now to find one when it was a bookshop.


Erle Stanley Gardner, Frederick Pohl and a BYO Bookmark

Having just picked up a copy of ‘The Case of the Lazy Lover’ by E S Gardner from 1972 I looked at the back and found it was another title in the series that PAN occasionally called;Soritng out the covers that are the same style I find I have 15 Gardner’s so far and they can be seen HERE listed in date order. Please let me know if you have any more to add.

I also picked up an unread copy of ‘Farthest Star’ by Frederick Pohl and Jack Williamson and is the first title in the ‘Saga of Cuckoo’ series but only this title was published by PAN. It has been signed by Pohl who did it very carefully and I’ve resorted to taking a photo rather than putting it on the scanner so as not to force it open.The cover for ‘Farthest Star’ is by Bob Layzell and I contacted him and he kindly replied “I’m afraid I no longer have a copy of “Farthest Star” but you may use any photo’s from my albums. I remember the art director of Pan at that time was called Dave Larkin who was very helpful and introduced me to “Young Artists” This cover was also the first I had published in 1976′ It surprises me how many of the ‘Young Artists’ covers for PAN were recycled for the ‘Anticipation’ s/f series by Fleuve Noir in France.

I also picked up a bookmark for ‘Bind Your Own’ (BYO) and this time advertising a PAN tile ‘The Last Enemy’ unlike the last one which was for a Fontana title. With the PAN covers you can also see the Dell cover  of ‘Falling Through Space’ the title ‘The Last Enemy’ was given first in the States.How to turn a perfectly good book into one that isn’t in 10 minutes or less!

Gavin Tudor Lyall again and RIP Liz Fraser

Having been away for most of last week I’ve only got a couple of things with the first being another page of Gavin Lyall covers. Colin Thomas (see last blog) was the photographer for at least one of them along with Derek Askem and Andy Whale. I’ve written to a Derek Askem but might not have the right one, no response so far. I emailed Andy with my usual “I hope I’ve got the right person and if “Yes” have you got any recollections of working for PAN?” and he replied “Yes I had got the right person and how could he help?” I again repeated my question but still awaiting a reply. The later covers are HERE

There was a lot in the news about Burt Reynolds dying on September 6th but nothing about Liz Fraser who was in so many films from my youth – and a few from later such as the ‘Confessions’ series which I have to ‘confess’ to having on DVD. She was said to be “best known for her comedy roles as a provocative “dumb blonde” in British films of the 1950s, 1960s and 1970s” This still from the film ‘I’m All Right Jack’ with Liz Fraser and Ian Carmichael was used by Glenn Steward who painted the cover for the PAN film tie-in for G319 from 1959. Liz also appeared in ‘The Americanization of Emily’ with the film tie-in edition being a second printing from PAN as G490 from 1964.

Gavin Tudor Lyall etc.

Sorting through the different series of covers of Gavin Lyall titles I have scanned in the ones from the early 80’s which feature guns. I noticed that several were credited to photographer Colin Thomas and I’ve put them on a page HERE. Although not all having a name I’ve taken the liberty of crediting them all to him but I’ll change it if I find it’s any different. Colin photo’s were used on many PAN covers for authors  including Dick Francis, Ed McBain, Raymond Chandler, Agatha Christie, Colin Dexter, Jack Higgins and what has been a bit of a mystery up to now, the 18th PAN Book of Horror Stories. More on these in a later blog.

I contacted Colin and he very kindly replied;

Dear Tim
Thanks for your email, you have got the right Colin Thomas. I did my first cover for PAN with David Larkin in 1977 (18th Pan Book of Horror Stories)
I subsequently did lots of covers for David, and for his successor Gary Day-Ellison, and in a way I still work for Pan Books today if you can call the imprint at Pan Macmillan the same company.
So I’m afraid I do belong to the group of photographers who, commissioned by Larkin and Day-Ellison brought about what you describe: “photography began to play an increasingly dominant part, and the special period charm of the artwork covers of the previous twenty years was lost”.
Amongst many other commissions, I did a series of covers for Ed McBain titles, and for Dick Francis titles, where we tried to go for a minimalist look that we hoped had ZERO period charm!
I still shoot for book covers today, although the industry has changed dramatically from the way it was in 1970’s and 80’s. Anyway, I’m attaching a few more covers from that period that I’m still proud of.
Colin Thomas

Just looking up Gavin Lyall I think he was born a stones throw from Cadbury’s at 139, Cob Lane in Birmingham in May 1932 and which is just a few miles from me but needs a check as his parents seemed to have moved around the area a lot. Returning to the ‘gun’ covers I’m trying to see if they did one for ‘Venus With Pistol’ which would seem appropriate but the problem is that the ones in the later series as below appear to use the same book block so the same dates. This doesn’t help trying to track them down!
I don’t remember the TV version of ‘The Secret Servant’ as stickered on the cover of one of my copies which was a BBC production from 1984 starring Charles dance as Henry Maxim.

..………… and finally the painting of the artist I featured last week was a self portrait of Hans Helweg from 1998 when he was 81.

Peter Gudynas, Corris, Upfield and a ‘Who is this?’

I recently contacted cover artist Peter Gudynas to ask if he did more than one cover for PAN as I’d only found ‘The Second Trip’ by Robert Silverberg crediting him. He sent me a very detailed response and the answer was basically ‘Yes’ although he did paint a couple of covers for the PAN related US imprint TOR Books in their ‘doubles’ series.

Peter also including a scan of the original artwork plus a printers proof. He said:

“I worked as a science fiction artist for many years during the late 70’s, 80’s and 90’s. I produced many covers and received recognition in the UK, USA, Germany and France for my Science Fiction art. This has included commissioned book cover design and illustration artwork beginning in the late 1970’s, through the 80’s and 90’s, for world renowned publishers including Penguin Books, Panther Books, Harper Collins, New English Library, Pan Books, Daw Books, Bantam Books and Tor Books, amongst many. Credits include cover art for authors such as J.G.Ballard, Philip K Dick, Stanislaw Lem, Rudy Rucker, John Sladek, Bruce Sterling, Frederik Pohl, Robert Sheckley, Harry Harrison, Issac Asimov, Robert Silverberg, Pat Cadigan and Mick Farren, to name a few. In 1999 I won the Waterstones Booksellers award for best book cover artwork for the novel Diaspora by Greg Egan, at the Association of Illustrators Images 23 Best of British Illustration exhibition, held at Royal College of Art London”

Funnily enough Peter only lives a few miles away from me so I feel a trip over to get a signature may be called for.

I have added another Peter Corris title but not a Cliff Hardy novel, a book called ‘Golf’ which unsurprisingly is a selection of poems, stories etc about golf. I think it takes the prize for worst cover of the month but having looked at other work by Ann Howie I glad to see this isn’t a representative example, some of her landscapes are very evocative.

I’ve also added some more of the ‘Bony’ covers by Marinella Bonini but no response to my email to her so far but maybe using Google translate into Italian didn’t quite do it!

…. and finally here is a self portrait of a prolific PAN cover artist, anyone know who it is? Answer next week.



A Great Week for Correspondence including Louis Shabner

Last week I had several emails that I need to follow up and should provide great material for later blogs including tracking down Sue, the widow of Hans Helweg.

Back in October last year I had an email from journalist Stuart Webb who was looking to write an article with a PAN slant. He asked several questions and looking back I’m not sure how many, if any, I actually answered but that hasn’t stopped him writing a very informative piece about someone, whom I feel I should have known but didn’t, Louis Shabner.
A couple of weeks ago Stuart contacted me again to say his article had been published and in his excellent piece  explains Louis will probably be better know to PAN Fans as cover artist  ‘SHELDON’ and not to be confused with another PAN cover artist H. Harry Sheldon.  Louis, as Sheldon, painted at least 23 covers for PAN in the early 60’s, 21 of which are shown in the article which appears in ‘VE’ magazine Issue 41 and can be purchased on line at their website

The article gives a detailed account of his life and features several other evocative examples of Shabner’s work. It tells how the family tried to sell some of the originals back in 2017 using on line sites and an auction house with mixed results. The family are left with 17 they are going to keep. Stuart finishes by asks where others works may be and I’m wondering how many other PAN covers Louis may have painted that are unattributed? As usual if anyone can help by adding further information please let us know.

I experienced one of those weird coincidences while I was typing this as I got an email from Gordon Young whom I’ve mentioned before and who now lives in Milford on Sea. Gordon was emailing to say he had just heard that George Bath, who joined PAN the year he left in 1964, was now actually living a half a mile away! Seems like Milford was and is a popular place with the publishing trade as I’m sure the name has come up before.

…. and finally “HOW MUCH!!!!!”