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

Sarah Shears, ‘Albert’ Bear and ‘Young Artists’

I picked up a PAN edition of ‘Tapioca for Tea’ by Sarah Shears as I was in Kent and it’s the first in her trilogy of her life in a small village there. This has a wrap around cover but no artist credited. In the States the book is titled ‘A Village Girl’ and uses the same cover and this time the artist is credited. I was very surprised to see it was by Karel Thole, the Dutch born artist, who I associate with science fiction and horror covers. Carolus Adrianus Maria Thole (20/04/1914 – 26/03/2000)  was born in Bussum, near Amsterdam, and was educated at State Drawing School of Amsterdam’s Rijksmuseum. He illustrated the ‘Urania‘ magazine for many years. I’ve included a cover to show a more usual Thole one!

I posted three Piccolo covers a while back featuring ‘Albert’ in stories by Alison Jezard and I thought that was all of them but when I saw there was another published as a Young Puffin I had to bite the bullet and buy it. It was only then I noticed there were several more in the series so I now have the dilemma, shall I be a completist or just say as they are not PAN I leave it at that? Unfortunately I think I know what the answer might be. The cover artist was  Margaret Anna Gordon (19/05/1939 – 31/12/1989) She is probably better know for illustrating ‘The Wombles’ books.

I recently bought a copy of the 1980 ‘Young Artists’ brochure featuring the work of many well know names who have painted covers for PAN. Amongst them are Colin Backhouse, Jim Burns, Gordon Crabbe, Les Edwards, Chris Foss, John Harris, Angus McKie and Terry Oakes to name but a few. Quite a few examples of their artworks were reused for the ‘Anticipation’ series by Fleuve Noir of which I have collected many examples when on holiday in France as they are never very expensive.

Jules 2022 Review, Guinness Records and ‘The Penguin Collector’

In recent blogs I have linked to Jules Burt’s videos several times and although the ones mentioned may have been a little selective all of his are worth a look as they cover such a diverse range of collecting subjects and there has to be at least one for everybody. This time it’s a link to Jules reviewing his year and I was pleased to see his visit to me in September gets featured. Click on the photo to see the whole year.

Between 1980 and 1982 PAN brought out six(?) titles all stating with ‘The Guinness Book of …….’ under the Piccolo imprint. I don’t know how popular they were but all my copies appear to be unread. Five were very easy to find but the sixth was not. There appeared to be several copies available but on closer inspection, although listed on several sites, it was the same seller every time. Interestingly they all had different prices and in the end I saved nearly £3 as one also had free postage! It’s true when they say you need to shop around. In 1983 PAN reprinted ‘Most and Least’ for Heinz as a promotion possibly just so they could use the word ‘Souperlatives’!

Having bitten the bullet and joined the ‘rival team’ that is the Penguin Collectors Society last year I was pleased to see they were happy to give my site a plug at least three times in ‘The Penguin Collector’ magazine number 98 This has an article entitled ‘The Use of Imagery by Penguin and its Paperback Competitors’ by Elizabeth Skip liberally illustrated with PAN titles as above. In response fellow PAN Fan, Fred Cheetham from Vancouver, submitted his article for magazine number 99 and can I say a big “Thank you” to Fred for the plug for the site plus the article which is also lavishly illustrated with PAN covers.

Hugh Trevor-Roper, Kaye Hodges and ‘Murder Is Easy’

Last week while looking at the early Vallins covers by Val Biro I was reminded of how similar they were to early PAN editions of The Last Days of Hitler’ by Hugh Trevor Roper, probably because they also had covers by Val Biro. I’ve scanned these and later editions on a page and will update the pages where they are listed by number as I go along. Hugh Redwald Trevor-Roper (Born 15/01/1914 Glanton, Northumberland Died 26/01/2003 Oxford) was Regius Professor of Modern History at the University of Oxford. and wrote a range of historical topics, but particularly England in the 16th and 17th centuries and Nazi Germany. His most widely read and financially rewarding book was titled The Last Days of HitlerIt emerged from his assignment as a British intelligence officer in 1945 to discover what happened in the last days of Hitler’s bunker.

Having wished artist Kaye Hodges a Happy New Year I also mentioned a cover I had featured a while ago namely ‘Superior Women’ by Alice Adams with a cover by Kaye.. I asked her if she could recall it and she replied “I can vaguely remember the book was about a selection of women who grew up together, set in America and met occasionally over the years. One of the people who modelled for the cover was one of the artists daughters who I worked with’ Gary Keane’s daughter Francine. At the time of the illustration David Hockney was using coloured pencils in portraiture. This, I think, set a trend which was reflected in publishing, graphics and illustrations. I still have the original in my portfolio”

Having pulled PAN 162, ‘Good English’ by G H Vallins, off the shelf for last weeks blog I also collected 161 which was three editions of ‘Murder Is Easy’ by Agatha Christie. As far as I can tell PAN only published this once as a later edition in 1973 with a photo cover unlike other titles with numerous variants. I love the strange old woman on the cover of the 1951 edition but have no idea of who K. P. the artist might be, anyone help?

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.

Olga da Polga on TV, ‘The Deep Range’ and Jules Visit Video

After mentioning that the ‘Olga da Polga’ stories were coming to BBC TV they started last month. They are only based on the Michael Bond stories, these being written by Sara Daddy. The original books were illustrated by Hans Helweg and HERE is the link again and you will need to scroll down the page.

While scanning covers in what I call the ‘Blue Flash’ series of Science Fiction titles I noticed one of them was signed by Arthur Chales Clarke (Born 16/12/1917 in Minehead, Somerset and died 19/03/2008 in Colombo, Sri Lanka) It also had a inscription saying where and when it was signed but the memory of the recipient wasn’t 100% right as you’ll see if you click on the link HERE The rest of the ‘Blue Flash’ covers will be in next week’s blog.

If you haven’t seen Jules Burt’s videos then you’ve missed a treat. One of his latest was filmed when he visited Maurice Flangan at Zardoz Books which my wife and I visited in 2016. Click HERE to see this video. I’m still amazed at the quantity of paperbacks and have spent many a happy hour clicking on pause and rewind to scan the spines. I love that Australian artwork that appears at about 25 minutes and the David Tayler roughs at about 20 minutes shown above and below. PS Thanks for the website mention Jules.

PAN Artwork Video, Bond ‘White Covers’, David & Charles

I’m pleased to announce that Jules Burt’s fourth and final video he filmed when visiting me in September is now available. This looks at some of my original artwork from PAN and other publisher. Click on the image above, “sit back, relax and enjoy” and I hope you do as much as me.

Not sure if I’ve posted this before but here is a link to the James Bond ‘White Covers’ series from 1969 and 1972. I can remember scanning them in and putting them on a Facebook page but not in a blog. This was just after Mike VanBlaricum kindly provided me with a larger image of the original artwork for FYEO which now resides in the Rare Book and Manuscript Library at the University of Illinois . This artwork was one of the items sold at the Bonham’s auction in 1991.

I remember well the name David & Charles as in my youth I joined their book club. There was a great introductory offer then you had to buy one title a month for so long. I think a lot of those titles have now gone to National Trust secondhand bookshops in an unread condition. IN 1971/72 PAN reprinted about 23 of their titles and labelled them the ‘David & Charles Series’ Oddly one of the books lists ‘The West Highland Way’ as being by Turner and not Thomas. The following passage is from their website;
‘David and Charles was founded over 60 years ago on 1st April 1960 by David St John Thomas and Charles Hadfield in Newton Abbot, Devon. It became synonymous with books on Britain’s canals and railways and quickly became a leader in illustrated non-fiction, publishing across numerous categories. The ownership of the company has changed several times over the years. In July 2019, the current management team completed a buy-out of the business from the American company, F+W Media. David and Charles are now based in Exeter, Devon’

Ken Brown and PAN Horror Covers

Just one item this week but it’s a good one as we can now add another name to the roll of honour for designed four of the covers for the PAN Horror Books series.

Having recently been in communication with artist Sean Coleman he mentioned a friend of his, a fellow artist named Hogan Brown. Hogan’s father, Ken Brown, was responsible for designing some of the covers in the PAN Horror Series back in the 1960s. Unfortunately, Ken is no longer with us but I would like to say a big “Thank You” to Ken’s wife Ruth who sent me the following recollections.

Recollections of Ruth Brown

As far as I can remember…….

We had moved to our first “bought” house in Teddington 1967. It was a small modern house with a single open plan ground floor. (Relevant!)

My husband, Ken Brown, had joined the BBC as a graphic designer in 1964 when the in-house graphics department was formed, dealing with opening titles and promotional content for future programmes.

10 designers were recruited from various different disciplines – Ken came from the advertising agency J Walter Thompson, having trained as an illustrator at Birmingham College of Art.

As well as working 9 to 5 at the BBC, he also occasionally took on freelance work. He didn’t have an agent – it was usually through recommendation or word of mouth.

One such commission was to design the covers for the series of Pan Book of Horror Stories. Because of the day job, he did the designing and photographing of the covers at home, in the evening. I specifically specify the evening and not the weekend because by now we had a young son and the very nature of the content of the covers was obviously not particularly child friendly, so we had to make sure he was asleep! The sight of his father’s head swathed in bandages and smeared with blood might have damaged him for life

Then there was the head full of worms ….

…. the severed head in the hat box ….

…. and the wedding cake complete with dagger and dripping blood.

I think Ken sometimes borrowed things from a friend in the BBC props department (a serious misdemeanor) ……. I know he borrowed a cobweb device from there.

I don’t know where he got the rubber head from (he cut it open and added the worms) but it lived in the top of the wardrobe for several years after the “shoot”. And the wedding cake (made out of cardboard and plaster) was consigned to the garage.
It was all VERY low tech but great fun to do and enormously successful – hence the interest to this day.
I hope this adds some insight and is of interest.

PS. My son has grown up into a very nice, well-adjusted person ……… so no harm done!

Footnote from well-adjusted son Hogan

I found the wedding cake drying in the airing cupboard when I was a kid, which was a bit of a shock, I also kept the head with the worms for many years, though what happened to it I do not know.