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

A Christmas Present, G H Vallins and RIP Mike Hodges

Hoping you all had a good Christmas and that things may be beginning to return to ‘normal’ in 2023.

I might not have got the number one book on my wanted list (X705) but I did get something I’m pleased to add to my extensive collection of all three(!) ROMO stereo viewers. I mentioned one a couple of weeks ago but a little too expensive even for Santa it seems so I got one of the ‘standard’ ones instead. The reason I collect these is not just because I like them but because they were first produce in France in the 1950s by Robert Mouzillat who was also a director of PAN Books.

I have been sorting out my titles by G H Vallins of which PAN published three in many editions between 1951 and 1972. It also gave me a chance to remember my visit to Val Biro back in 2012 where he signed several books with his covers. George Henry Vallins (29/05/1897 – 30/10/1956) was born in Shoreham near Sevenoaks, Kent and was educated at Beckenham County School and King’s College London. He served in the army towards the end of the First World War, after which he became a schoolmaster, first at Wreights School, Faversham, and then for many years at Selhurst High School, Croydon. He published a volume of poems and co-edited several anthologies for the use of English teachers. In 1933 he married Mary Janet Herringtpn in Croyden. In 1936, together with H A Treble, he published ‘An ABC of English Usage’ which was described by The Times as “an admirable if sometimes controversial little work” After the Second World War he published ‘The Making and Meaning of Words’ and then, according to The Times, “his best and wittiest handbooks”, ‘Good English’ (1951) and ‘Better English’ (1953). The paper commented “Both are delightful reading not merely for the soundness of the doctrine but for the combative tone of the writing” Vallins was a contributor to Punch and The Times Educational Supplement He died in hospital near his home in Banstead, Surrey, aged 59. The obituarist in ‘The Time’s described him as “a valiant champion for the purity of the English language”.

Listening to the news last week I heard that Mike Hodges had passed away. on the 17th December. It was only when they mentioned films he had worked on that I remembered he wrote the screenplay for ‘Get Carter’ from the novel ‘Jack’s Return Home’ by Ted Lewis. As far as I can tell PAN only published this Ted Lewis title and ‘Plender’ although he wrote nine books altogether.

‘Happy Christmas’, Derek Stowe and Badges.

Wishing all PAN Fans a Happy Christmas and that you get all those titles that are top of your wants list.
(I know what mine is!)

I have recently been communicating with Rog Peyton who has kindly sent me several lists of book covers by well known artists, but then again maybe only well known to some of us! He also scanned a couple of Arrow covers by Derek Stowe plus a query one and asked if Derek was OK? It has been a while since I last spoke to him so it was a good excuse to do so. After a few calls that went unanswered I began to wonder but I eventually got him, he had just come back from hospital. He sounded very chirpy, and we had a good chat which was brought to a halt by his lunch arriving. I’ll ring him again soon to carry on our conversation. I’ve added the two definite covers to Derek’s Panther/Arrow page HERE as they are signed. They are ‘The Black Gang‘ by SAPPER (H, C, McNeile) and ‘The Flying Fifty-Nine’ by Edgar Wallace, The query was does anyone know who painted this ‘Dracula’ cover as Derek said it wasn’t one of his?

As I have said many times I find the ephemera around PAN Books just as interesting as the books themselves. A case in point are badges PAN gave away in the 1990s. I know there are three of them and so far I’ve managed to obtain two. I’d love to get the missing one if anyone could help?

‘Blue Flash’ S/F Covers, R.I.P Johnny Johnson, ‘Bottersnikes and Gumbles’ Again and a 23rd Birthday!

As promised last week here are the 13 covers I have in what I call the ‘Blue Flash’ series of Science Fiction titles. What prompted me to get them out and rescan them was looking through ‘Rayguns & Rocketships’ which features cover art for S/F titles from many publishers including PAN. Click on the pages above to see them. Once again if you know of any I have missed please email or leave a comment.

I was sad to hear of the death of Squadron Leader George Leonard Johnson, MBE, DFM, better known as ‘Johnny’ Johnson, on the 7th at the age of 101. His and his colleagues stories are told in ‘The Dam Busters’ by Paul Brickhill. This is a significant title from PAN as it was their first book to sell a million copies. George tells his own story in his book ‘The Last British Dambuster’ written in 2014. There seems to be a debate as to whether or not it is ‘Dam Busters’ or ‘Dambusters’ as both are frequently used.

I managed to find another edition of ‘Bottersnikes and Gumbles’ by S A Wakefield in PAN’s ‘Young Piper’ series, this one being from 1988. I’ve also added the Puffin edition from 1972 as it has the same cover artwork by Desmond Digby as the Piccolo edition from 1984 but with the trees in the background moved to the other side. I still need to find a 1988 edition of ‘Gumbles in Summer’ as the two copies I ordered that were supposed to be it both turned out to be the 1984 edition.

….. and last but by no means least my website is celebrating its 23rd Birthday on the 16th. of this month. Here’s to many more blogs in the years to come. It was there before Twitter and the way things are going, possibly after as well!

R.I.P. Alan Cracknell, Ladybird Exhibition, ROMO and Frederik Pohl

Alan Ernest Cracknell, Artist and Illustrator
22 August 1937 – 20 April 2022

Last week I was sorting out Christmas cards which reminded me to check out what Alan Cracknell had been doing recently. We’ve exchange cards for several years, but I was really sorry to discover Alan had passed away and that I had missed it. He was 84 and was “an illustrator and artist who possessed a prodigious imagination and a meticulous and detailed technique” to quote his obituary which I’ve added to his page. It is from the Hampshire Chronicle. Alan sensibly didn’t ‘do’ emails and so I often got requests to pass things onto him, which I was happy to do, especially concerning commercial ventures utilizing his artwork some of which came to fruition. Goodbye Alan, I’ll really miss our chats on the phone. but it was good to speak to Alan’s wife Evelyn and daughter Sarah to pass on belated condolences.

I noticed there was an exhibition of Ladybird Books original artwork that started recently which reminded me how many of their covers were by familiar names having also painted for PAN Books. I’ve put a couple of examples on a page HERE

I love stereo viewers and as I have mentioned before there is a connection between the French ROMO stereo viewer and PAN Books. Robert Gustave Mouzillat was founder of La Stereochromie which traded as ROMO, a stereoscopic image company. In 1947 he became a director and participated in the development of publishing company Pan Books. With the support of the board of Pan Books he developed a means of exploiting a new printing technique, combining text with images. This took him into the use of the photographic process in printing. He later formed a company, of which he was the sole owner, to conceive and develop a camera to produce a 3D Camera. I have a small collection of them but unfortunately this item that has just appeared on eBay is a little too expensive for me at nearly £900.

Frederik George Pohl was born on the 26th November 1919 in New York and died on the 2nd September 2013 in Palatine, Illinois, United States. I meant to post his covers last week before his birthday but as usual – forgot! Better a little late than never so HERE are the six titles he edited and the four title he wrote published by PAN. I think these are all but if you know another please leave a comment. I do have a few more of the ‘Galaxy Readers’ but not PAN with two from PERMA and one from Pocket Books. The first six were edited by H L Gold while the 10th was edited by Pohl but not published by PAN.