Respected researcher and pulp fiction historian Steve Holland gives, for the first time, a comprehensive account of the early 1950s Home Office crackdown on so called ‘obscene’ paperbacks – of which the Hank Janson novels were the prime examples.
Holland also presents a full biography of Hank Janson – in reality, a man named Stephen D Frances – from his early life, through the highs and lows he experienced with the Janson novels, to his eventual decline and death in Spain, cut off from the character he had created.
Additionally the book details the full publishing history of the Janson stories, from 1946 right up to the present day with Telos’s reissue series.
344pp. A5 paperback original. Illustrated with many original Hank Janson and other book jackets in an eight-page colour photo section.
Published 20 May 2005
The Hank Janson name, logo and silhouette device are registered trade marks of Telos Publishing Ltd.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Steve Holland has been collecting books and comics since childhood and wrote his first article in 1981. Since then he has had over 1,250 features published and has written and co-written a number of full-length books, including Vultures Of The Void (with Phil Harbottle) and the Anthony Award-nominated The Mushroom Jungle.
He has had a varied career in and out of writing, working at a local hospital, a frozen food warehouse and as an office manager in London. He has edited magazines on subjects as diverse as comics and 4×4 cars, and books on everything from science fiction to movies.
‘I have always had a fascination with the backwaters of popular literature, from penny dreadfuls to paperbacks, and I’ve always tried to get some of that enthusiasm over in everything I’ve done, whether it’s radio, TV or in articles,’ he says. ‘Thankfully the books I’ve had a hand in have been well received.
‘I’ve wanted to write The Trials Of Hank Janson for some years but always held off because I knew it would be quite a gruelling experience. I corresponded with Stephen Frances, Hank’s creator, for some years before his death and looking through his letters you realise just how angry and sad his experiences with Hank made him.
‘When I read the books 20 years ago I knew from the start that they were more than simple crime thrillers. Frances threw himself into them – he was Hank when he was writing them. To hear a Judge describe your work as obscene in the highest court in the land, to see your friends imprisoned and have newspapers baying for your arrest and conviction – it must have felt as if his whole world had caved in. And then, after the dust had settled, he lost control of the character he had created and the novels he had written. You can only imagine how that must have made him feel.’
Praise for Steve’s previous books
The Mushroom Jungle
‘Holland charts this sleazy region in unprecedented detail, raking through the products of flagrantly pseudonymous authors like Drax Amper, Volsted Gridban and Manly Bannister. There is enough economic nitty-gritty about paper supply and payments per thousand words in here to satisfy the most rigorous cultural materialist . anything it may lack in semiotic analysis and high moral stance is more than made up for in its informed enthusiasm and real coal-face research’ –The Times
‘This kind of expertise, and books like The Mushroom Jungle, may well instigate an educational backlash, a return to the basic values of strong plotting that the pulp paperbacks depend on.’ – Guardian.
‘It is a fascinating study that sheds light on a little known area of British publishing history. It is a first in its field and is sure to become the standard work on the subject.’ – ABM
Vultures of the Void (with Philip Harbottle)
‘…is a first-rate example of the sort of things dedicated fans can do better than anybody. Harbottle and Holland… do an excellent job of reconstructing a genuine nightmare of hackdom, far worse than most of us would imagine-and exactly the sort of “subliterary” topic that traditional scholarship shies away from… Invaluable.’ – Locus
‘This history of that period makes neither excuses nor apologies for the crudeness, and provides fascinating behind the scenes stories and an insight into the way a marginal publishing operation works. An entertaining look at a part of SF’s history which has been largely ignored otherwise.’ – SF Chronicle