Edinburgh-based Obverse Books, the publishers of numerous fantasy books including a number of titles inspired by Paul Magrs’ time-travelling heroine Iris Wildthyme, recently announced the acquisition of the license to the famous Baker Street detective, Sexton Blake from from IPC Media.
One of Britain’s best-known detectives, Blake initially appeared in several of the Penny Dreadful style British comics and magazines of the latter 19th and early 20th centuries and, later as a comic strip in Knockout from 1939-60 and in Valiant in 1968-70. (Over on Bear Alley, Steve Holland notes that a later revival stumbled at the last minute: Blake was meant to be the lead strip in Tornado when it launched in 1979 but the failure of the Sexton Blake TV series Sexton Blake and the Demon God in late 1978 led the editors to change Blake into a new character called Victor Drago. “A real shame,” feels Steve, ” as it was the most true-to-character Blake strip ever.”)
Lauded by literary figures as diverse as Dorothy L Sayers and Michael Moorcock, Blake’s adventures represent the longest running fictional series in the English language, and appeared in print, in comic format, on radio, television and cinema between 1893 and 1978.
Obverse Books intend to resurrect the famous Sexton Blake Library, commencing with a new novella by best-selling genre author George Mann entitled Sexton Blake and the Vengeful Dead, available in hardback and electronic form, and combined with a reprint of a rare, classic Blake story from the inter-war years.
The company has already released a collection, Zenith Lives! featuring new stories centering on the Sexton Blake villain Zenith the Albino, an opera cloaked gentleman with a taste for danger and excitement and little thought for personal safety. These include new adventures from some of Blake’s biggest and best known fans, including George Mann, Paul Magrs and the British Fantasy Society nominated Best Novella, ‘Curare’ by Michael Moorcock.
“The acquisition of the Sexton Blake license is an important building block in the growth of our catalogue,” said Obverse CEO, Stuart Douglas, back in May. “The re-launched Sexton Blake Library will build upon our existing mystery and crime releases, while at the same time fulfilling a long-standing personal ambition to bring the longest-running detective series in literary history back to life.”
Talking about his own novel, George Mann added: “I’ve been an avid devotee of Sexton Blake for many years, and it’s such an honour to be writing the first instalment of the newly resurrected Sexton Blake Library.
“Expect thrills, spills, action and adventure as a Golden Age Blake is buried alive, takes on a mysterious cult and faces off against a returning villain from the original saga.”
• While there’s no listing detailing a release date for Sexton Blake and the Vengeful Dead on the Obverse Books web site yet, you can sign up on the site for a Sexton Blake mailing list to get the latest news.
• Obverse Books web site: http://obversebooks.co.uk
Sexton Blake Books
• The Casebook of Sexton Blake (Wordsworth Mystery & Supernatural)
This thrilling collection presents seven exploits from his ‘golden age’
Bear Alley has republished several Sexton Blake annuals. Here are direct links to these releases