Tuesday, 2 May 2017
Paperback Heroes: The Executioner
Author Don Pendleton created his all action hero, Mack Bolan AKA The Executioner way back in 1969, and penned the first 38 books in the series. The author sold the rights to the character to Gold Eagle and remained on as a consultant while other authors ran with his character. When the author died in 1995 at the age of 67 the books featuring his character already numbered in the 100's and if the spin off series are included then the books number more than 500 titles, with the series still being added to today. Total worldwide sales are more than two hundred million.
The origins of Mack Bolan are that he was born in 1939 and served in the Vietnam War, was in fact a Green Beret. It was during the conflict that he killed over 90 men as the forces top sniper which earned him the nickname, The Executioner. While Bolan was serving his family back home fell on hard times - his father, Sam Bolan lost his job and turned to a savings and loans company to help the family through a rough patch. However the company was actually a front for the Mafia, and when the repayments are not kept up they start hounding Bolan Snr. Cindy Bolan, Mack's sister is forced into prostitution to help pay her father's debts. However when Bolan Snr discovers this he is so ashamed that he kills his daughter and then himself, leaving his youngest son Johnny in hospital. When Bolan comes home on compassionate leave he decides to take his war to the Mafia, who he hold responsible for the tragic events that befell his family.
'The Problem, as I see it, is that the rules of warfare are all rigged against the cops. Just knowing the enemy isn't enough. They have to prove he's the enemy, and even then sometimes he slips away from them. What is needed here is a bit of direct action, strategically planned and to hell with the rules.' Mack Bolan, from War With The Mafia
Bolan is unlucky in love and whenever he meets and falls for a women they are invariably knocked off by hoods or kidnapped. He speaks at least five languages and is adept at intelligence gathering.
'Mack Bolan is a classic American hero. Readers like him and I feel very good about that.' Don Pendleton
Over the years Bolan has survived nuclear blasts, several shootings, the odd stabbing and a warehouse roof falling on him.
There have been many attempts to film Bolan's adventures and at one time Clint Eastwood was in line to play the character - Sylvester Stallone was also eyeing up the character at one time and most recently Bradley Cooper's name has been linked with the series.
The series also spawned a successful comic book franchise
Author, Don Pendleton was born in 1927 and died 1995 - as well as the Executioner series he was responsible for several detective series and a number of spiritual books which he co-authored with his wife Linda Pendleton.
The Executioner series has been said to have invented the Men's Action/Adventure genre, and whilst I'm not too sure about that the series certainly had a lot to do with making those slim paperbacks so popular. I grew up in a world where paperbacks such as these filled shelves everywhere - no wonder this teenage reader was drawn towards these books with their action packed covers and titillating prose....It was books such as these that made me a lifetime reader, and gave me the urge to be a writer myself. Oh, sure I've read far more complex books, better written books even but in terms of sheer excitement and enjoyment nothing has ever topped the action/adventure novels I read as a kid. I don't think nothing ever could.
So raise a glass to Mack Bolan, our first paperback hero.