German publisher Pidax has released the first of its German language collection of some of the Paul Temple newspaper strips by the character’s creator, Francis Durbridge, drawn by John McNamara, first published in the London Evening News.
First created by Francis Durbridge for the BBC radio serial Send for Paul Temple in 1938, Paul Temple is a professional author of crime fiction and amateur private detective who together with his journalist wife Louise, affectionately known as Steve after her pen name “Steve Trent”, solves whodunnit crimes through subtle, humorously articulated deduction.
The Temples have since featured in over 30 BBC radio dramas, twelve serials for German radio, four British feature films, a dozen novels, comic strips, and two BBC television series.
While some early radio serials are not known to exist, most starring Peter Coke, aired in the 1950s and early ’60s, do, and have been rebroadcast. In 2006, BBC Radio 4 began recreating them, in as authentic a manner as possible as mono productions, with Crawford Logan starring as Paul Temple with Gerda Stevenson as Steve, employing vintage microphones and sound effects, and using the original scripts. Paul Temple and the Madison Mystery was released on CD in 2008, as we reported at the time, along with an audio book of the novel, News of Paul Temple, read by Anthony Head.
The Paul Temple newspaper strip, which appeared in the London Evening News, was published between 19th November 1951 and 1st May 1971. 91 stories were published, initially drawn by Alfred J. Sindall from 1951 to 1954, followed by Bill Bailey (1954 – 1958) and New Zealand artist John McNamara, the latter responsible for later making Paul Temple look more like actor Francis Matthews, who played the character in the TV series. John drew the strip until it ended its run in 1971.
In 1964, the small comics publisher Micron published a series of reprints of Paul Temple strips from the Evening News – which are quite rare. They were edited by Keith Chapman, who today writes novels as Chap O’Keefe, and runs Black Horse Extra, a westerns website that sprang from the magazine of the same name.
This series ran to only 10 issues, published at the rate of two a month between March and July, reprinting stories drawn by John McNamara.
“When choosing material for the Paul Temple Library I put together for Micron, I tried to pick sets that had given the artist latitude to draw interesting, non-repetitive scenes,” he told Steve Holland back in 2011.
“Back in the early ’60s, I was limited by the old art-paper pulls a big newspaper syndication department was prepared to dredge up from its files. An editor barely out of his teens, working for a backstreet publisher in suburban Mitcham, didn’t carry much clout… I seem to remember Micron wasn’t allowed to export Paul Temple Library to Commonwealth countries, probably because they were running several years behind with the daily strip.”
They were however, apparently permitted to license rights to non-Commonwealth countries, and three Paul Temple Library volumes were translated into German. These rarities, which are much sought after by collectors, feature in the new German language anthology released in May, Paul Temple Collection, published by Pidax, who also offer a range of Paul Temple items in other media.
Apparently the first in a new series, the collection features three strips, reformatted and coloured for the edition. In “Paul Temple Meets His Double”, when Paul Temple gets into a London taxi, he can’t believe his eyes. The driver looks confusingly like him! Scotland Yard takes advantage of this when it comes to sneaking Temple undercover into a dangerous gang of criminals. The trail leads to a dubious priest …
By chance, Paul and Steve come across a major fire in “Paul Temple Plays with Fire”. Inspector Vosper tells them that there have been a number of cases where a fire has been started to steal valuable jewels. It soon becomes clear to Temple that when the fire is extinguished, the unknown perpetrator mingles with the firefighters to take his loot with him …
In “Paul Temple and the Blackmailed Groom”, a title that doesn’t tally with the title of any 1964 Micron edition, a groom makes a rather unfortunate impression at a wedding.
When the bride tells Steve her new husband has withdrawn half of her savings, Paul correctly suspects a case of extortion. Temple wants to help, but ends up in prison – on charges of murder…
Germany wasn’t alone in enjoying Paul Temple during its original run. The cover of this new collection is actually from a Dutch collection, #705 of Beeldscherm Classics Detective, an issue of the long-running Dutch incarnation of Classics Illustrated, which utilised English comic strips later in its long run.
That the comic was popular in Holland should come as no surprise: several of the radio plays were re-recorded there using Dutch actors, the title character’s name adapted as Paul Vlaanderen. The newspaper strip was also published in a number of Dutch newspapers.
Two short-lived comic series published by Aachener Bildschriftenverlag and the Luna-Kriminalromane are also rare collector’s items, although it’s not clear from online reference if these are original strips, or reprints from the London Evening News.
In the United States, Paul Temple strips were also re-published in a number of issues of The Comics Reader in 1981, and issues of Menomonee Falls Gazette – which might help persuade an English language publisher to revisit the strip for possible collection, given there’s at least some awareness of the character across the pond, which might help boost sales.
• Richard Sheaf has a feature on the Micron Paul Temple Library collections reprinting strips from the London Evening News here on his Boys Adventure Comics blog – further information and images welcomed
Paul Temple and the Magpie Mystery
Paul Temple and the Gun Runners
Paul Temple and the Nerve Gas Gang
Paul Temple in Operation Shrike
Paul Temple Plays with Fire
Paul Temple Meets His Double
Paul Temple and the Safari Mystery
Paul Temple in The Charge is Murder!
Paul Temple and the Q.40 Mystery
Paul Temple and the Missing Van Gogh
• The British Cartoon Archive at the University of Kent holds examples of the Paul Temple strip drawn by Alfred J. Sindall. He also drew the Tug Transom strip in the Daily Sketch from 1954 to 1969, illustrated many of the Biggles series of boys books by W.E. Johns, and drew for Girl comic
PAUL TEMPLE aka Paul Vlaanderen
• The adventures of “Paul Vlaanderen” in comics and other media are well documented on the Dutch web site paulvlaanderen.nl – and a quick list of the strips published there in newspapers and albums is here
• Piet Schreuders has assembled a collection of illustrations featuring “Paul Vlaanderen” from various Dutch magazines here on Flickr
FRANCIS DURBRIDGE – AND PAUL TEMPLE IN OTHER MEDIA
• There are tributes to actor Francis Matthews, who died in 2014 and played Paul Temple between 1969 and 1971 and was the voice of Captain Scarlet on TV on Bear Alley (17th June 2014) The Guardian (15 June 2014), Daily Telegraph (16 June 2014), The Independent (18 June 2014)
BUY PAUL TEMPLE AUDIO DRAMAS AND BOOKS
MINE’S A PAUL TEMPLE…
Back in 20008, to celebrate the 70th Anniversary of the first Paul Temple radio series, Edward Viita, Manager of the Artesian Bar at London’s prestigious Langham Hotel, created a new cocktail: The Paul Temple.
The cocktail is whisky-based to reflect Paul Temple’s drink of choice and is a variation of the classic whisky cocktail ‘Blood and Sand’, originally created for the 1922 film of the same name and reflective of the Paul Temple era.
The Paul Temple
• 30ml Scotch Whisky (for best results use a smooth slightly smoky scotch)
• 20ml Dubonnet Rouge
• 20ml Crème de Peche
• 20ml White Peach Puree
• 20ml Freshly Squeezed Orange Juice
• Shake and strain into a chilled cocktail glass
• Rub a short sprig of rosemary between your hands (to release the aromas)
and lay it as a garnish over the drink