MARTIN THOMAS VERSUS BLAKIANA
Compiled by Mark Hodder
Throughout his long life in print, Sexton Blake always generated a fairly hefty mailbag. Letters would be sent to the various periodicals not just by his readers, but sometimes by his authors too. Never, though, did the correspondence become so heated as in 1960. That year, right in the middle of Sexton Blake’s controversial "New Order" era, Blake author Martin Thomas launched a scathing attack on the BLAKIANA section of COLLECTORS’ DIGEST. This wasn’t a criticism of Sexton Blake stories or Sexton Blake writers — it was a condemnation of Sexton Blake enthusiasts! Thomas’s letter was published in February’s Mission to Mexico (SBL 4th series, issue 445).
Note: Scroll through the correspondence in the window below. You’ll need to magnify the page with your browser to read the tiny print!
Keith Chapman, who worked in an editorial capacity on the SEXTON BLAKE LIBRARY during the 1960s, has provided the following information about the author:
Martin Thomas (real name Thomas Hector Martin, 1913-1985) lived in Bristol, Somerset. He was one of the core "New Order" SBL writers. But how many people have heard of Max Risco? This was one of just five pseudonyms Martin used in his pre-SBL days. The Risco novels were primarily American-style "gangster" fiction, along the lines best known today via the popular "Hank Janson" work of Stephen D. Frances, who later also became a Sexton Blake writer. A Risco bibliography, along with very short biography, can be found here. Some fascinating details were sent to me by Martin himself in December 1961. He included tear sheets of the title pages of three Norwegian editions of Risco books published by Folke-Forlaget A/S of Oslo. In 1964 Martin also sent me a copy of his SF novel BEYOND THE SPECTRUM.