Friday, January 14, 2011

Forgotten Books: The Green Hornet

The first Green Hornet Big Little Book, published in 1940, featured art by Robert Weisman. Fran Striker is believed by some to be the author. Values on these seem to fluctuate between $25 and $300, depending on where they are offered for sale and how bad somebody wants one.

Neither author nor artist has been positively identified for this second book, from 1941. All three BLBs featured the page-flipping gimmick described below, which was a primitive sort of animation.

The Green Hornet Cracks Down, 1942, features art by Henry Vallely. Once again, though clearly based on the work of Fran Striker, its uncertain whether he actually wrote it.

As I learned from Randy Johnson the other day, Richard Wormser was responsible for this 1966 TV-tie in paperback, writing as "Ed Friend." It was apparently penned before the series aired and based on early screen treatments, so many of the details differ from the actual show, and Kato is largely ignored. 

The Whitman hardback below, also from 1966, was a kid's book, but is by all accounts a better read than the paperback. Author Keith Brannan also did an I Spy book and couple about The Man from U.N.C.L.E.

Patti Abbott has the usual round-up of Forgotten Books at pattinase. Next week, when she's away, I have the honor of being guest host.

Tomorrow: "Skyler Hobbs and the Magic Solution," my entry in John Kenyon's Fairy Tale Crime Fiction Challenge. Come on back, y'all.


  1. Were "Better Little Books" also "Big LBs" or a competitor? They look a little different than the Big LBs of that vintage I've seen before...or was the flip-animation gimmick why they were "Better," from the same publisher (Whitman products, too, or were they?).

    Well...a pity how no one has quite given the Hornet his due, as far as I know, being not the most enthusiastic listener to the radio series, and not having seen much of the 1960s tv series. Any of the comics been particularly good? And a better choice of leading man, and the rumors of Kato being a woman in the proposals for a new film, proabably would've been all to the good (Grace Park would be no more ridiculous as Kato than she is as Kono, probably less).

  2. I always aked myself why is green and not other colour, to tell the truth...

  3. Another eye-popping sequence of cover artwork! Reading these books would be way more fun than seeing the new movie version of THE GREEN HORNET which really looks lame.

  4. Don't think I could pull 300 out of my ass for this but I'd certainly like to have it.

  5. I liked those page-flipping gimmicks. Nice collection.

  6. I thought those suckers might be a little high.

    Wormser did several tie-ins as Friend(The High Chaparral, The Most Deadly Game, and The Hornet) and one under his own name. THE WILD WILD WEST was based on The Night of The Double-Edged Knife and was probably done before the series aired. The characterizations of West and Gordon were a bit off from what we came to love on the show.

  7. Some readers will no doubt appreciate the potential 21st-century interactive components of e-books that I've heard discussed, but it will be a much different experience from seeing those vivid covers and having one of the original interactive experiences--that page flipping gimmick! Another aspect of print books possibly gone forever.

  8. I think "Better Little Books" were just Whitman's way of saying their Big Little Books were better than ever. Sort of like the Snapple commercials, where the best stuff on earth just got better. I don't know if they all had the flip art or not.

    I remember the NOW comics written by Ron Fortier as being especially good. They started in 1989. There's now a hardcover collection of the first 12 issues, called The Green Hornet Collector's Edition. The comics Dynamite is doing now is pretty good too, especially Year One.

  9. I'm pretty sure the inferior Big Little Books of the earlier era, and certainly the 1960s examples I used to have, didn't have the page-flipping animation. (One was a Woody Woodpecker..the other isn't coming to mind...possibly two others...)