‘The Spanish Legions!’ tinkled the pieces…

But first…
Dulltown, Europe: Today’s financial forecast is for bankers to invent a handy pocket-sized coin worth one billion dollars to make their day-to-day lives a bit more manageable.

DSCN3441It’s strange… it’s weird… and it’s eerie… Yes dear reader, it’s another 1960s British pulp ‘Supernatural Special’ paperback – a Badger Book from my modest collection. As you see it is called Legion of the Lost and is by someone called Pel Torro – what a great name! Pel Torro is of course one of the many pen names of Robert Lionel Fanthorpe the writer of most of the Badger supernatural and science fiction output.
I wonder what the blurb on the back cover has to tell us?
‘Servius had always been a faithful servant of the goddess Diana…
…a vision of Diana made him a strange promise. He would die, yet he would not die. He would live, and yet he would not live. When he found himself he would be lost, and when he was lost he would be found…
Servius closed his eyes on the shores of Lake Nemi and opened them again in a strange, frightening world where chariots ran without horses and where men flew inside iron birds…’ Gosh, doesn’t it sound great?…
Perhaps we should flip the book over again and have a good look at the front cover?
Well, this is all a bit easy, that must be the vision of the great goddess Diana, and relaxing on the deck that must be good old Servius. I notice that this cover painting is by the usual Badger cover artist Henry Fox (signed bottom left) and that he must have been especially pleased with this one as he has given his signature an extra long flourish, or perhaps he was just pleased to get another one of the bloody things done and off his easel and to look forward to the cheque in the post…  Well, Diana certainly has a god-like glow hasn’t she? Look at those eyes, Fox is great at doing eyes; see how her forehead is a little frown-furrowed too – is she feeling some pity for the poor puzzled mortal lolling on the sand in front of her? Oh, and doesn’t she have nice hair? I wonder where she gets it done – I expect she has a couple of cherubs brushing it for her all day long. I like the way our Servius is holding one hand up and hesitantly pointing – he probably saying, ‘Now, hang on a minute Diana… what’s all this nonsense you are telling me about iron birds?…’ He’s a good-looking lad though isn’t he? Look at that chin, is that what you’d call a lantern jaw?… I expect he models himself on Victor Maturehe was always good value in those old ‘swords and sandals’ epics – he was great at sweaty suffering…
Shall we crack open these brown crusty pages and find some interesting pieces of text to give us a feel of the writing style dear reader?
‘The hatred and unpopularity had been welling up, had been swelling, had been growing, had been vibrating, had been pulsating, had been resonating with a deadly, sinister life of its own, as though the hatred itself was going to destroy Nero…’
‘He ran from room to room, but a thousand mocking whispers followed him. Every thudding footstep seemed to say ‘Galba!’ ‘Galba!’ He seized a beautiful ornamental vase of exquisite workmanship and smashed it to the floor, as he heard the crash ‘Galbaaaaaa’ shuddered back from every echoing corner.’The Spanish Legions!’ tinkled the pieces, ‘the Spanish Legions!’…’
‘The general of the legion, the officers and the centurions looked coldly at the palsied, hysterical hulk, the mountain of diseased, voluptuous flesh with the staring eyes from which fear now looked out, like a living thing…’

About Dave Whatt

Grumpy old surrealist artist, musician, postcard maker, bluesman, theatre set designer, and debonair man-about-town. My favourite tools are the plectrum and the pencil...
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2 Responses to ‘The Spanish Legions!’ tinkled the pieces…

  1. Another beautiful, compelling book cover from Badger. I love the “Supernatural Special” banner too. Accidental surrealism– a local weatherwoman here in the States used the word “unrare” and I guess she wasn’t being funny either.

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