The Mark Hodder Interview. Part One - An Initial Encounter ; "THIS was Sexton Blake !"
As I`ve mentioned before, celebrated Saville-Row-suited sleuth Sexton Blake has been reborn, re-invigorated and and renewed by the undoubted skills of Mark Hodder and the determination of Stuart Douglas.
It is with great pleasure that I bring youthis interview with the redoubtable Mr H, whose penmanship is equalled only by his courtesy and his commitment to the cause of Sextonianism.
The interview will be delivered to you in instalments, hopefully at very regular intervals but interspersed with other items relating to the excellent Mr Blake.
It may enhance your reading pleasure if you try to imagine this meeting of minds taking place in some appropriate fictitious setting. I personally would want to imagine the encounter occurring in a dimly-lit basement bar somewhere near Londons` dockland in the immediate post-war period.
Q) I believe your initial encounter with a Sexton Blake adventure was not exactly encouraging ?
A) It was the Sexton Blake Library fifth series novel `The Witches of Notting Hill` by W A Ballinger (actually W Howard Baker). I`d come to Blake by way of the modern-day Robin Hoods (or `Durable Desperados`) ; characters like The Saint, Bulldog Drummond, Tiger Standish, Nighthawk, Blackshirt, The Toff and so forth. Among them I`d encountered Norman Conquest and Zenith the Albino, both of whose origins lie in Blake tales. My initial research into Blake wasn`t promising. "A cheap Sherlock Holmes rip-off" about sums it up (a judgement I now know to be totally erroneous). As a huge Holmes fan I wasn`t much enthused. It kept nagging at me, though ; "I ought to read some Sexton Blake". So when I saw `Witches...` in a secondhand bookshop I snapped it up and... God it was awful ! I couldn`t understand how such drivel could have such an incredibly long history. After recovering from that wasted reading time I thought I should give it another chance and perhaps look out for some of the earlier material. Not long after, a complete set of 1919 Union Jack magazines came up on E-Bay. It co-incided with me having a bit of cash to spare so I bid and won. The moment I eased open one of those browned and crumbly pages with its` tiny print and advertisements promising manly moustaches and cures for blushing , I was hooked. THIS was Sexton Blake !
The next instalment follows shortly. In the meantime you can learn more of the activities of Hodder and Douglas by clicking on these links ;