A sickly dark grey-green-yellow colour…

But first…
Dulltown, Europe: Today’s flamingo is the one with short legs.

DSCN3447Whoa!… No, no!… Phew! Look at him!…
It’s alright, no need to panic dear reader, it’s just another 1960s British pulp supernatural paperback, a Badger Book from my modest collection; it’s strange, it’s weird, and it’s eerie. Although this is a compilation of six short stories, I notice that five of them are written (under different names) by the same person – Robert Lionel Fanthorpe SMBIS. (I know that MBIS is Member of the British Interplanetary Society, but I’m not sure what the first ‘S’ stands for; maybe it is Special?)
There are some great titles here: The Snarling Shadow by Trebor Thorpe, The Bevelled Casket by Leo Brett, The Darker Drink by RLF, this time under his own name. There is one called Chasm of Time by Bron Fane, but on the title page it is called Charm of Time – still, never mind, a simple typo is hardly worth mentioning…
Shall we see what the blurb on the back cover can tell us?
The Darker Drink – the story of a pathetic young woman’s search for a love potion… She finally falls into the merciless clutches of Hagar… who had lived in the village longer than anyone could remember…
The Bevelled Casket – the spine-chilling tale of a weird pre-historic urn and the deadly, secret evil that was unwittingly released from it.
The Unfinished Chapter – by Pel Torro – the reader is involved in the curious tale of a book within a book… And finally, a sinister story of a haunted dog, the dog who was afraid of  The Snarling Shadow
Now, carefully turning over this crumbling volume, we can examine this super painting on the front cover; I see that it is by the usual Badger Book artist Henry Fox. Do you reckon that the grinning skull man (wasn’t it a good idea having the missing tooth!) might be ‘Hagar’ from The Darker Drink? You can almost hear the evil chuckling can’t you? If that is Hagar, this vivacious young woman who glances over her shoulder apprehensively, with the flowing red (or blonde) hair, the parted ruby lips, the nice tan, wearing plenty of gold jewelry, the nicely arched eyebrows, and the very stylish giant red scarf, must be the ‘pathetic young woman’ mentioned earlier – no… I hardly think so… Oh look! In the bottom right-hand corner… I do like those stark dark branches, and the gravestones, and their creepy moonlight shadows…
It’s now time for me to thumb through these well dogeared smelly pages and find a few items of text to give us a feel for the style of RLF’s writing:
‘(Val and La Noire Stearman) thought of the fights to the death which they had had with the deadly Doctor Jules and the sinister Von Haak, the treacherous hunchback and the other members of the coven… It was a though Destiny with a capital ‘D’, Providence with a capital ‘P’, or Fate with a capital ‘F’ had singled them out to be psychic Crusaders…’
‘…something began to ooze from the neck of the urn. It was a weird vapour and it had about it a hideous, almost indescribable aroma. There was a smell of death, a smell of decay, a smell of corruption. It was a blemished, charnel smell. A smell of burial grounds and whited sepulchres. There was a smell of pure darkness. The oozing vapour was a sickly, dark grey-green-yellow colour…’
‘Yellow candles burned on the desecrated altar. A hideous prancing thing with a pair of antlers strapped to its head was dancing between the frenzied, scantily clad black magic priests and witches and their satellites. There was an overpowering smell of sulphur. But most horrible of all, there was Helen, his own beautiful Helen, tied down to the altar, and above her the hunched figure of Hagar, with a knife that glinted in the weird light…’




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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