PAN Fans Club

Let's talk about PAN paperbacks, the blog for those that do judge a book by its cover. Main site is at or

PAN Fans Club - Let's talk about PAN paperbacks, the blog for those that do judge a book by its cover. Main site is at or

Cheltenham, Horror and Updates

Down in Cheltenham last week for a few days to pop in to see Paul Davies who was holding an excellent exhibition of his current work as a cartoonist. Paul also drew twelve PAN covers for Leslie Thomas titles in 1982, he hated them! I took a few with me that Paul kindly signed on the back and they can be seen HERE along with Paul’s cartoon of the bookseller who once was an all too familiar character. We had a long and interesting chat about many things we have in common.

While in Cheltenham called in to four bookshops (there was another one but listed under ‘rare books’ so decided probably a bit too posh) with Moss Books certainly winning for quantity and floor stacks but unfortunately meant I couldn’t get to see a lot of what was double stacked on the shelves behind the precarious piles

Northing to do with books but called in to the local steam railway station and managed to get a visit on to the footplate, quite ‘chuffed’ as it was only me and the drivers kids that were allowed up! It was a very hot day made even hotter standing next to the open firebox.

One publication I’d missed was the paperback edition of “Back From The Dead” by Johnny Mains from 2016 in which I’d like to say my website and I both get a mention but as I’m too modest ……! It uses the Les Edwards artwork that was intended for the defunct “PAN Book of Horror Scrapbook”

Finally a couple of updates in that I’ve found the last Paddington title ‘Paddington Goes Shopping’ and Alan Cracknell has kindly sent me some printers proofs of his non PAN book covers plus something we’ve not had for a while, a new entry in the ‘As Seen of TV’ section.

Next week is very close to the 70th anniversary of PAN Books so I’m going to publish Gordon Young’s recollections of being First Mate on the ‘Laloun’ the boat that brought over the first titles from France where they were printed.

June Read on working at and leaving PAN Books + RIP Brian Aldiss

Just checking and it was two years ago last Wednesday that June added a comment to the blog. We made contact and she gave me the following information:

I joined Pan books around 1971 when the offices were on Tothill Street. I was hired as the secretary to Tony Bowen-Davis (art director) and when he left, then David Larkin.
Ralph had a series of secretaries ( he was a tough guy to please) so when he invited me to become his executive Secretary I was frank in telling him that I loved the company and if we did not get along, I asked him to promise me he would find me another opportunity in the company. I never went back to the art department. Ralph was one of the best, funniest, most irreverent people I ever worked with. A tough guy exterior but with marshmallow feelings.
When my husband and I moved back to Canada (3 years later) Ralph and the Pan crew held me a going away party and presented me with a jade ring, beautiful watch and an original caricature card (of Ralph) illustrated by one of the chaps in the art department.
The people at Pan were wonderful and the experience of working with Ralph still rates as fun and memorable.

We then lost contact as June went off travelling around the world so I was pleasantly surprised to hear from her again last month. She had returned and on sorting out found some great PAN related souvenirs of her leaving PAN which she is happy for me to share so click HERE to see them. June has also promised me some photos of the occasion which I hope to include in a later blog.

With the 70th Anniversary coming up I’ve found a page HERE showing all the 20 titles that will be available early in September. As part of further planned celebrations, Pan Macmillan is also re-introducing its Golden Pan statuette. On Tuesday 5th September at Foyles, it will be awarding five “Golden Pans” to authors on its list who have sold 1m copies over the lifetime of a book. It will also be celebrating its 70th anniversary with a party at Frankfurt.

STOP PRESS I’ve just heard that science fiction writer Brian Wilson Aldiss O.B.E died last Saturday (19th) the day after his 92nd birthday. PAN published several of his books and he jointly edited the 3 ‘Decade’ titles with Harry Harrison. Unfortunately all my books are currently packed away await moving but I’ll see if I can find any to scan and add to a later blog.

Alan Cracknell and Julek Heller

I was hoping to feature the alternative PAN logos June sent me but what with recovering from over indulging at my son’s wedding plus the arrival of the builders who are working in the pouring rain things have been a bit hectic time wise. The plus side is that the building work is all part of our grand plan which includes two conservatories, a proper roof and lantern windows on the garage, bi-fold doors on the end giving access from one of the conservatories which will then enable me to start work on my ‘man cave/library’ I want to order the 700 feet of bookshelves but my wife says not yet. Very frustrating!

I mentioned trying to contact Alan Cracknell but hadn’t had a reply. This is probably because I had the wrong Alan Cracknell so Alan in Brighton – sorry for probably confusing you. The real Alan lives near Winchester and I tracked him down as he made the local newspapers and the BBC News when he was indulging in his hobby of metal detecting and found a bronze ring.  Alan doesn’t use the internet, a wise choice, but replied to my letter with one of his own plus some cards showing examples of his work which I’ve added to his page HERE. He invited me to ring him which I did and we had a long conversation culminating in him promising to send me more details of his career. Unfortunately Alan has Parkinson’s so finds it harder to paint now but thankfully he still does.

I’ve also added a few more scans to Julek Heller’s page HERE including some of the later covers from the PAN imprint TOR plus an Arrow cover as I like it. Still no reply to my messages to him via his website but I don’t give up that easily.

Julek Heller and Ralph Vernon-Hunt plus Wedding

Julek Heller was born in 1944 in Jerusalem of Polish parents, who came to England as refugees in 1947. Now living in London, Heller has been working on non-commissioned fantasy illustrations since 2000. I have tried to contact him via his website but no response so far.His first covers for PAN/Piccolo, are far as I can find, were ‘The Songs of Summer’ by Robert Silverberg and ‘More Irish Fairy Tales’ by Sineadde de Valera from 1979. He went on to paint several more covers for both imprints plus later ones under the TOR imprint. Some examples can be found HERE with more to be added soon.

I’ve been communicating with June Read in Canada this last week. She contacted me a while ago, then went off travelling but has now returned and is sorting out bits and pieces from when she retired from being Ralph Vernon-Hunts secretary in the 1970’s. Here is a taster with more to come next week. I’ve added the bit from the book cover as a reminder.
My son’s wedding in Kent went off really well last Saturday and although we did get the downpour at 2:30, just as we came out of the church (which had unfortunately been forecast all the proceeding  week) the sun shone after this. I was very proud of my wife with her reading from Shakespeare. Even the vicar said he didn’t want to sound patronising but it was one of the best readings he had heard. We hope Thomas and Catherine have a very long and happy marriage. On the minus side I’ve missed two of my favourite ‘must visit’ annual book fairs, the Methodist church in Lichfield and the Baddesley Clinton NT fair near Warwick both starting on the 5th.