PAN Fans

Let's talk about PAN paperbacks – the blog for

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

Micky Flanagan and Julek Heller

The title for this blog is one you don’t see everyday, a comedian and a painter although they would probably say they are both artists in their own way.

I don’t often listen to the radio programme ‘Desert Island Discs’ which has been going for 75 years but did catch the end of the episode while waiting for the news where comedian Flanagan chose PAN’s ‘A Dictionary of Philosophy’ as the book he would take. He mentioned he still has it at home so I’ve fired off one of my emails asking if it’s possible to have a photo of him holding it? I’ll let you know if I get a response.This reference has now swollen the ‘PAN as mentioned on radio’ section to all of two clips which can be found HERE.

Back in August I mentioned trying to contact Julek Heller to ask about the original unsigned artwork of a unicorn to check if it was one of his and so I was really pleased to get a message from his daughter Zosia this week and letting me have contact details. We have since communicated and he confirmed that the unicorn was his but unfortunately I had sent him the wrong artwork! There were two, one we knew was his, the other something like it and guess which one I attached? I’ve since sent the other and await a verdict. 

I also asked Julek about some of the titles from PAN with artwork listed as by him to which he replied “There are quite a few images out there attributed to me that I didn’t produce, some good some not ,what can you do? My website is in need of some work which I hope to deal with in the New Year . I Have a few sample covers somewhere in my files which I will try and dig out and scan. I’ll send them on to you if I can find them” I specifically mentioned the PAN ‘Gormenghast Triology’ listed as having artwork by him, which weirdly ties in with the “PAN as heard on radio” in that the only other clip refers to Mervyn Peake, author of the said novel. Julek attached his artwork for the Peake title but this was for Overlook Press in the States from 1988.I have some more scans to add to Julek’s page but I can’t get to the box at the moment, probably in the New Year. I’ll let you know when they go on.

BYO or Bind-Your-Own plus JAWS etc.

I recently rediscovered a packet of bookmarks including those for ‘Bind-Your-Own books’ or how to turn a paperback into an awful hardback, a precursor vaguely reminiscent of those ‘library cases’ for VHS cassette tapes!
I found I’d actually got two, one for PAN and one for Fontana. Unfortunately the PAN one was plain on the back but the Fontana advertised the book ‘Reach for the Sky’ from 1957. I have several unopened packs plus one half used and an advertising flier for Fontana and not PAN. I also found a few American packs online at more than I want to pay but interestingly although they have a US address they were actually made in England. Click HERE to see the page.

I always frown when I see copies of PAN’s that have been put into card covers and then described as ‘rare’ I’m just glad they are ‘rare’ as that means that another copy of what might have been  a  perfectly good book, has not been mutilated. Here is a current example but at least they are being realistic and only asking £1.99

I managed to phone Ken about the ‘JAWS’ cover I saw on eBay and he says it is a PAN but a really early one, before the film came out when they changed the shark to the one on the film posters. PAN was printing run after run of 250,000 at a time and was one of their most successfully titles causing Ralph Vernon-Hunt to say “We’ve been saved by that ****** fish”

I was also contacted by a graphic artist trying to speak to Alan Cracknell to ask if it was possible for him to use some of the artwork Alan painted for the album “El Pea” featuring amongst others Jethro Tull. Alan was happy to speak to him and I await the outcome.

No work on the ‘library’ last week as we went away in the camper for a few days to a town where there was supposed to be two bookshops but sadly no more! It got really wild, wet and windy in the night – and the weather was awful as well! We also had a funeral in North Yorkshire and extended it into a couple of days. Fingers crossed as there is a very empty calendar this week I hope to crack on apace!

Jackie Collins and a JAWS mystery cover.

With the weather being fine I seem to have been spending more time on sorting out our disused railway track than on sorting out my books but when it gets cold at least I can do one of them in the warm and dry. We have dug drainage channels lowering the water which has now exposed the source of it, a cracked cast iron pipe nobody knows anything about (the foot is for scale, I’m not really that bad a photographer!)

While trying to contact Adrian Chesterman about the covers he painted for Jackie Collins titles in the 80’s I came across someone selling this standee for “Hollywood Wives”I couldn’t resist it but not sure where it’s going to go. It has made me try to sort out the other Colliin’s covers I have from this period and I’ll add a page next week.

While looking on eBay as I usually end up doing I saw a cover listed as ‘rare, not see another on net’ etc. and they wanted £35. This of course made me try and find out if this was right and so far I have to agree. The seller lives in Greece and I was wondering if it was an international edition although the scans of the first few pages don’t indicate as such. I’ve email Ken, who was studio manger at PAN at that time and was involved with ‘JAWS’ and as I’ve mentioned before is miffed as he designed the icon text but got no credit.

Finally I’ve Heard from Gordon Young to tell me he is now working on the next instalment of his memoires so watch this space.

Georgette Heyer in the Catalogues + Monsarrat

Still looking through the catalogues I mentioned last week and three of them have full pages for Georgette Heyer titles. I’m including scans of them below. The first one is from December 1966 and lists how many of each title had been sold up to that point. Next to where it says ‘the unknown best-seller’ there is a blank book cover and I’m trying to work out if this is clever or a mistake. It is numbered M150 which was “Cotillion’ In the text it also says “She has millions of fans but none have seen a picture of her” which just shows how far we’ve come with technology as if you search now you get dozens. The second scan is from December 1967 and the third and fourth from January 1968.

A couple of weeks ago I featured 10 covers by Nicholas Monsarrat and was awaiting an eleventh. After two weeks and no sign of it I contacted the seller, one of those warehouse companies, who apologised and said they would send me another copy straight away. I was sure it was going to be the earlier edition but surprisingly not but what they didn’t mention was the sticker on the front

I was quite annoyed until I had a better look and saw it was for another PAN title. I tried my usual methods to remove it, lighter fuel and a hair dryer, but no luck so I’ve had to work on the cover in PaintShop. I’ve included it on the page HERE 

The title “The Red Fox” is in shiny gold lettering and no matter how hard I try my scanner still wants to give me black!

“New PAN Books” November 3rd 1967

I ‘won’ four PAN catalogues on eBay a while ago (thanks for not bidding against me Jules) and now we are in November I’ve got around to looking at them.

What I really hate is looking at the lists of “Special Display Materials such as:

I would love a few of those “Pan Books on Sale Here” stickers to go on the bi-fold doors of my ‘library’ where I am currently(!) rearranging the electrics as the sockets all appear to be in the most inconvenient places i.e. behind bookcases. What I also need are a few of these:

So if anyone out there has any of these bits and pieces they no longer need please let me know ( email ) as I find this material every bit as interesting as the books themselves and talking of books there was a ‘plug’ for the book “Our Mother’s House” reissued to tie in with the 1967 Venice Film Festival where it was British entry (It didn’t win, it was “Belle de Jour” also published by PAN) I’ve been trying to decide if the picture used in the catalogue was the same as the one actually used for the book cover. I’ve added a scan of the book to the catalogue entry and put them side by side.

W B Yeats and Michael Leonard

Last week I mentioned a strange coincidence which was that I was going to put up a page of the W B Yeats covers with portraits by Michael Leonard, an artist I’ve mentioned before. I was looking for an image of him and found a self portrait usually exhibited in the Ferens Gallery, Kingston Upon Hull. The strange part was that last week we were in Hull at the Ferens gallery to see the Turner prize nominees which unfortunately meant the portrait had been relegated to storage while the Turner exhibits were on. We were not too impressed with them apart from one where the artist had produced ‘real’ painting. He was a local lad, well local to us here in the Midlands, namely Hurvin Anderson and as we liked them this will probably mean he won’t win, sorry Hurvin.

To see the Michael Leonard Shakespeare paintings I’ve shown before click HERE. To see the Yeats covers click HERE. Michael does have a lot of his book covers on his site HERE but only shows one of the PAN Yeats and doesn’t include the ‘Grendel’ cover by John Gardner. Having been away I’ve not had time to include more but I am really pleased to say the builders have finished my ‘library’ and it’s now up to me to finish it off!

Nothing to do with books but another strange coincidence in Hull was that on the Tuesday night we were just wandering around when a man came up to us and asked if he could help and then proceeded to give us maps. We had a long chat and then said goodbye. The next day we were following the ‘fish trail’ (different fish images on the ground all around Hull) when we got stuck trying to find a one by a pub. In the end we went into the pub and we were amazed to see the man we had been talking to the night before. When we eventually found the ‘crab’ we had actually walked passed in so if we had spotted it we wouldn’t have walked in to the pub and we wouldn’t have met up again – spooky or what – must be a precursor to Halloween!

Nicholas Monsarrat 80’s Covers

This was not the blog it was going to be this week, that will appear next week as I’ve experienced one of those weird coincidences and all will be revealed then.

Following on from “The White Rajah” last week I contacted George Sharp again and included a scan of the back cover for the 1980 edition which clearly states it is by him. He replied “I don’t recall doing it, Tim, and it doesn’t look like my work.” I now have a copy of the similar 1977 edition and I think this looks like a photo and the cover attributed to George is painted from that. We’ll probably never know the answer.

This week I’m featuring the PAN Monsarrat covers from around 1980 which have the name sideways on. So far I have found ten with what might be another in the post. The list inside does include at least two more titles but I’ve not found then published in the same style. To see the ten click HERE. I’ve listed some as 1980(?) as I just can’t figure out an accurate date. I have also been in contact with Brian Sweet who painted the cover for “The Ship That Died Of Shame” He is going to see if he still has the original artwork.

Popping up to Kingston Upon Hull, ‘UK City of Culture 2017’ shortly to see if I can get some ‘kultcha’ to rub off on me. We were there last year and it was like a building site but we are told it is now very impressive. A bit disappointing when searching online for bookshops in the area but you never know.

Finally, the builders should finish knocking down walls etc. this week for my ‘library’ which unfortunately means the rest is up to me to put up a false ceiling, dividing wall etc. so maybe in six months …..!

“The White Rajah”, another Golden PAN Award and an elusive cover.

Sorting through books again I found I had four different editions plus an image of another of “The White Rajah” by Nicholas Monsarrat. They can be see HERE. I’ve been trying to buy the 1977 edition but in spite of a photo of it being used by many sellers it is a ‘stock image’ and I now have three copies of the 1980 edition. What is puzzling is at first glance I thought the 1977 and 1980 editions had the same painting but on closer inspection there are many similarities but also many differences. The 1980 edition credits George Sharp as the artist and if I ever get a 1977 edition I see it that also says George. I contacted George to ask if he could recall this but he replied “Can’t help with the Monserrat. It wasn’t in my tenure” which is a bit odd as he is definitely named as the artist for the later edition. I’m hoping the 1977 edition I’ve got coming from France is the right one.

As a follow up to PAN’s 70th Birthday when they gave out six Golden Pan Awards here is Ken Follet, who was elsewhere on the night, receiving his from Anthony Forbes Watson (MD PAN) at a later event. Now I just need the photo Emma Donoghue has promised me when her award arrives in Canada.

Very pleased to now have the 1976 edition of “Midnight Plus One’ by Gavin Lyall. I had seen the original artwork at Colin Larkin’s house (unfortunately the paint is beginning to peel of the board) but could I find a copy of the book? Well at last I have so I’ve added it to Harry Hants page as he was the artist and it can be seen HERE.

….. and finally work starts on the doors to my library this week!

“The Crock of Gold”, Brian Withams plus “How much!”

While searching for information on artists I came across a cover I’d not seen before for the novel “The Crock of Gold” by James Stephens. Now I’ve got a copy of that edition can I find the name of the artist, annoyingly no. I think PAN published four editions and the only artist I can name is Val Biro  for the 1953 cover. The four covers can be seen HERE I’ll keep looking for those elusive artists.

After putting up a page to show “The Dam Busters” covers last week I thought I’d see if I could find out any more about Brian F S Withers who’s painting appears on the 1978 edition. I don’t know if it was commissioned by PAN as Brian painted many aviation scenes. I found an address for him in Kingston Upon Thames and wrote to there but unfortunately I got a reply from the present occupant to say I had got the right address but he didn’t live there any more and they though he might have died.
I emailed the ‘Guild of Aviation Artists’ and Martin Perman kindly replied to say that Brian had been Vice Principal of the Guild but had died in November 2012. The only other information I could find was he was born in September 1932 in Maldon Essex and married Rose M Scott in 1956 in Surrey Northern.Look carefully to see it is signed ‘Withams’ middle bottom on the back cover.

……. and for those wondering if it’s worth collecting paperbacks here is an optimistic seller on It says they’ve ‘Just Launched” as a seller but at these prices it may soon be more of a case of “sunk without trace” Even converted to £660 it sounds a tad too much!

“The Dam Busters” Update plus bits and pieces.

Having hunted through all the copies of  “The Dam Busters” I can find that have not been stored away awaiting the completion of my ‘Library’ I make it a total of 13 different covers albeit some fairly subtle shown HERE I now need to track down more of the artists. I’m surprised at how many different ISBN’s this title has had and I also need to confirm a couple of dates from the latter editions. If anyone out there has any other variations or artist information I’d love it if you could let me know by just leaving a comment.

The builders working on our alterations are following their own schedule which unfortunately is not as fast as I would like but my wife actually let me order one section of the type of bookcase I want to use. These are fully adjustable in many different sizes but not that cheap so I need to get it right. The one I have gives me 16 feet if I double stack, only another 684 feet (approx.) to go! The garage roof has been coated in fibreglass, the three lanterns are in place, a small part of the foundations have been laid. They are supposedly coming to remove the old conservatory today and put up a new one on the old and new foundations. All the end wall of the garage will come out and bi-fold doors put in and that’s where my library will be – eventually!

This week not only have I had to try and keep the builders happy with a constant stream of tea and coffee (and talking of streams where do they go to relieve themselves I wonder as they not asked to use our toilet? Maybe I don’t want to know!) but we’ve also been given £2,000 towards our ‘Back The Track’ campaign, well that’s the Public Liability Insurance sorted so we have the skip, we have the medical help, now we just need the volunteers to clear the swamp of rubbish and do some pruning under the ‘Miner Island’ in Brownhills so walkers can get through.

I wasn’t sure if I was going to be able to upload the blog this week as my internet company made me an offer I couldn’t refuse. I now have a fibre connection five times faster than I had with copper and I’m paying less per month. Always wary about changing something that has worked fine up to now but pleased to find it was a painless upgrade.

I’ll get back to PAN Books next week as the diary is looking fairly empty for once, just wondering what I might have forgotten to add to it?