Cheap Thrills

   Goodness, it’s been a long time since we’ve encountered each other. I’ll be at Gary Lovisi’s doings next Sunday but you don’t seem to attend them any more. A very handsome new edition of Cheap Thrills came out earlier this year, with color illustrations and reprints of many of the actual letters I gathered when first doing the book many long years ago. My next book is due out in October, entitled Good Girl Art and covering that comic book genre from Sheena to the present.

   As to your blog about the Phantom. Here’s a correction on pennames. I am not now nor never have been Marshall Macao. This attribution is, I think, due to the fact that some chap wrote some sleazy kung fu books and a listmaker mixed them up with the two novelizations of the old Kung Fu TV show I did. Macao was once a Portuguese possession and I am half Portuguese, but that’s the only connection.

   The source of the Frank S. Shawn penname, which I have oft explained to crowds of uninterested fans of mine, is this — I took the name of my wife, Frances and the initial of my younger son, Steffan, and the first name of my older son Sean, and fashioned an alias.

   I actually worked with Falk on these, dropped into his Park Ave. South apartment once, talked to him on the phone quite a bit. The novels were all based on old strip continuities and King Features would send me proofs of whatever strips were being adapted. Of course, with the novels I had to add quite a bit in the way of characters and subplots. And the books were much better written.

Good Girl Art

   Bruce Cassiday also did three of Avon’s Flash Gordon novels back then. I wrote the first three but got tired of dealing with the fellow at King Features, who was a lintpicker (as we used to say in the old days). He complained several times that I was ending chapters in the middle of the page and thus robbing them of several half pages of copy that they were paying for.

   I got the Phantom job originally because Falk, who didn’t keep up with things, had offered it to Alfred Bester, a friend of mine. Bester had ghosted Falk’s strip for a while during WWII and gone on to write The Demolished Man, etc. Knowing nothing of this, Falk assumed he’d be available for the assignment.

   Working with Falk was no problem. One of the few things he told me not to do was mention the color of the Phantom’s costume. At the time it was purple in America, but red and brown in other countries.

   Keep in touch.


      Ron Goulart

>> Alas, I won’t be at Gary’s paperback show once again this year. It’s next Sunday, but I go to Michigan every Columbus Day weekend to visit my sister, and my brother comes over from London Ontario for a short family get-together. Something had to give, and Gary’s show will go on, but without me, I’m sorry to say.

   Thanks for your comments on working with Lee Falk, though, and I’ll pass the word along to Al Hubin to delete your Marshall Macao reference. Question: You did two of the four novelizations of the Kung Fu TV series. None of the books (as by Howard Lee) are in Crime Fiction IV. I remember the series, and in fact have the first season on DVD. Would you say that the books as written have enough crime content that they should be included? My general impression is that they do.

   To everyone who’s planning their Christmas and holiday present list, from spouses, kids, parents, or simply to give yourself, there are a couple of big hints subtly hidden on this page.

— Steve