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Holmes toppled off Reichenbach Falls, and was often even more like Mr. Holmes than the original. He even lived -- surprise, surprise! He was created by Harry Blyth, although this most British of heroes was initially called Frank Blake.
Who thought of changing "Frank" to "Sexton" is not known. Blyth received nine guineas for the first story, signed away all his rights to the character, but stuck around to write about half a dozen more stories before other pens -- rarely credited -- took over.
And, as the stories continued to spew out, Blake soon outgrew his influences. He gave up the bicycle he dashed about in, and acquired a Rolls. Although definitely a detective, Sexton preferred fighting mysterious cowled villains, complete with long barrelled Brownings and homes in ruined abbeys, very much in the Edgar Wallace tradition.
The countless stories were always stronger on action rather than deduction. He had a comical landlady called Mrs. Bardell and - to me at least - a not needed and irrelevant bloodhound called Pedro. He drove his Rolls at an incredible 20 mph rather than say "follow that hansom" and flew a plane over the English Channel a little earlier than Mr. His exploits took him not just though London and the Home Counties but to the Alps, Papua New Guinea, the Gobi Desert, and to outwitting efforts to have him consumed by man eating plants and being placed on moon rockets.
He was assisted by a street smart Tinker Bell who drove cars, fought villains and thought independently, an early Archie Goodwin rather than an imitation Watson.
In the s and s, Blake took on nearly legendary proportions in England and in some parts of what was then the Empire. The key persons involved were not only the writers but also three editors: And the collection of super villains included Miss Death whose mask was a silken skull , Prince Memes prince apparently of the "white slave" market and Dr.
A handful of the stories were wonderful, most sheer pulp and a reasonable number absolutely unreadable - and all with the strange glow that lights up the most terrible of pulp.
There were even, it seems, a few films in the 20s and 30s, though no one I know has admitted to ever having seen one.
In , Bill Howard Baker took over as editor of the Sexton Blake Weekly and heaved the tall, dark, slightly humourless manhunter out of the Golden Age and threw him into the Nuclear one, with shades of Raymond Chandler and Dashiell Hammett.
The cowled villains were out, the mean streets in. Blake now ran an international agency out of Berkely Square the same London though , acquired a svelte secretary Paula Dane and was altogether less old world, more suave and more ruthless. There was still no sex, though the girls were more knowledgeable and there were the politest of hints about Paula Dane. Tinker Bell had next to no role barring gushing "how wonderful" in the closing scene and fortunately Pedro ceased to exist.
There were some secret-agent-James-Bond style stories generally set in the war but by and large, the atmosphere was seedier, the girls a little flashier and the villains less romantic and more hard bitten. This phase continued into the mid-sixties. Strangely enough, these were the first Blake stories I read.
Some of them were pretty good and I suppose they have a sort of Golden Age appeal to me and perhaps others. Blake petered out in the late sixties, although another revival was briefly attempted.
Sex was now permitted -- at least among the villains and occasionally among clients -- and girls giggled more often than seemed necessary.
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Of course, Sexton Blake and Ms. Dane remained immaculate and serene. This version does not seem to have done well and the few stories I have read were tawdry.
Sexton Blake took final retirement in the late s, after a reign of some eighty years. One thing remained common in all the versions. Tinker did in a few but Blake never had anything you could like or dislike or just recognise.
This, I dare say, is common enough in pulp fiction.
If intellectual justification is what you need, there is always Dorothy L. She wrote that the "significance of the Sexton Blake stories in popular literature would richly repay scientific investigation. Sexton Blake had a long life beyond the world of the printed word. He appeared on stage, screen, television, radio and even comics.
The stories, with their serialized feel and non-stop action transferred well to most media. Alais The Coster King ; by E. Alais Sexton Blake, Foreman ; by E. Alais Sexton Blake, Steward ; by E. Alais In the Shadow of Night ; by E. Armour The Leopard Man ; by R.
Armour Through Fire and Water ; by R. Bayfield False Scents ; by William J. Armour The Diamond Flood ; by R. Armour The Lighthouse Mystery ; by R. Armour The Studio Mystery ; by R. Armour The Werewolf of Elphinstone ; by R.
Armour The White Refugees ; by R. Armour The Desert Trail ; by R. Armour In Savage Hayti ; by R. Armour The Secret of the Lagoon ; by R. Armour The Sun God ; by R. Armour Certified Insane ; by R. Armour The Platinum Smugglers ; by R. Armour The Trail of the Tiger ; by R. Armour The Treasure of the Manchus ; by R. Armour The Movie Mystery ; by R. Armour The Prisoner of Buddha ; by R. Armour All Suspected ; by William J. Armour The Trail of Doom ; by R.
Bayfield Down and Out ; by William J. Armour The Secret of the Cask ; by R. Brandon Murder on the Stage ; by John G. Brandon The Crime on the Moor ; by T. Howard Baker Without Warning ; by W. Howard Baker Dark Mambo ; by W. Howard Baker Frightened Lady ; by W. Howard Baker Requiem for Redheads ; by W. Howard Baker Walk in Fear ; by W. Howard Baker Expresso Jungle ; by W.
Howard Baker The Impostor ; by W. Howard Baker Epitaph to Treason ; by W. Ballinger This Man Must Die! Ballinger The Television Murders ; by W. Ballinger A Corpse for Christmas ; by W. Ballinger Savage Venture ; by W. Ballinger Studio One Murder ; by W. Ballinger The Last Tiger ; by W. Ballinger Murder in Camera ; by W. Ballinger I, the Hangman ; by W.
CAPONE CONVICTED OF DODGING TAXES; MAY GET 17 YEARS
Ballinger Murderer at Large ; by W. Ballinger A Starlet for a Penny ; by W. The following are not entered or formatted properly. Thank you for you patience.