Newsletter No. 4

Celebrating the Life and Works of Guy N Smith

Guy N
Sending out a Warm Welcome to Fans, Friends and Fiends From Black Hill Books Ltd

We hope you have had a fantastic summer and are now gearing up for Halloween, the annual event horror fans get really excited about! Mwaahahahahaaa! But first… As many of you will know, we are hosting a GNS Memorial Fan Convention in Clun this September – the first one since 2019! If you have been a committed fan and/or GNS convention attendee, and you would like to come, but haven’t received an email about it, do get in touch with Tara at NOW. The guest list will be finalised on August 28th.

Now, down to business…

GNS Fan Con Running Order!

12 noonDoors open! (Free entry.) Raffle, vintage GNS paperbacks and merchandise for sale, and we may offer an exhibition table, on which fans may place items (which are not for sale) for us all to look at. So yes, show off your rarities!

12.30Reading. Author and Sinister Horror Company publisher Justin Park (J.R. Park) will read an excerpt of the novel ‘Beheaded’, which was written as a collaboration between Justin and Guy, and which was Guy’s last book, published posthumously.

1pmFood and drink buffet opens.

2pmReading. Author Joseph Freeman will read his short story ‘Redfield’s Lane’ which featured in the ‘Hell of a Guy’ tribute anthology that marked Guy’s 25th FanCon anniversary.

3pmThe Auction, featuring the X Factor Magazine collection, assorted hats of Guy’s including two deerstalker hats, a safari hat, a Black Fedora, and more curiosities.

4pm – Reading. Tara will read from the opening chapter of ‘Night of the Crabs’.

4.30pm – Quiz. Answer questions about the life and works of The Great Scribbler, and perhaps win a prize!

6pm – Hometime. (Unless there’s a lock-in.)

Proceeds from sales will be split between The Donkey Sanctuary charity and Black Hill Books Ltd. We will bring an electronic card reader for any purchases or donations. Even if you don’t want to spend any money, come and enjoy free food and drink, toast Guy, join in the quiz, and listen to the readings!

Dr Who and King Crab

Fans who follow Guy N. Smith social media (Facebook, Instagram, Twitter) will have seen the flurry of excitement surrounding the ‘lost’ third Milton Subotsky Dr Who film script that came to light at the British Film Institute in June. Here’s what journalist Matthew Sweet wrote in The Telegraph on July 5th:

Sergei and Dmitri Subotsky, the sons of the late producer, took to the stage wielding a document that even the most informed fans thought lost forever: the script of their father’s unmade third Doctor Who feature.

“My father’s archives have been in storage for a number of years,” explains Sergei Subotsky, “and my mother has until recently been the main point of contact for all enquiries. But no one had thought to ask her about this particular project.” He dug out the Doctor Who files and brought them to the BFI. When he produced a script with the words Dr Who’s Greatest Adventure written along one edge in felt-tip, the audience was astonished.

Design by Andrew-Mark Thompson.

There had been rumours, of course. Doctor Who fans love the thrill of the might-have-been. Some like it more than the thrill of the actually-was. As the first two movies had adapted Terry Nation’s scripts for the first two Dalek TV stories, it was assumed that the third would follow suit. (Nation’s The Chase, a runaround through time and space featuring cameos from the Beatles and Dracula, seems calculated to suit Milton Subotsky’s tastes.) But no. Dr Who’s Greatest Adventure was intended for a later era, when Hollywood had made tough action the strongest science fiction imperative, and Doctor Who itself had been put into special measures by BBC One Controller Michael Grade.

The Daleks are nowhere to be seen. Instead, a pair of Doctors Who are pitted against a swarm of cow-sized flesh-eating crabs that emerge from the sea to slice up tourists and slaughter the crews of fishing smacks. When the crustacean attack reaches the local Army base, the Doctors offer their help. A breathless series of action sequences follows. The crabs invade a farm, where the inhabitants fight back with burning bales of straw. They tear apart a submarine. They negotiate a minefield by rolling boulders detonating the explosives with boulders. While the older of the two Doctors – a role Subotsky intended for Jon Pertwee or Tom Baker – rides an army truck, blasting the creatures with ultrasonic beams, the younger descends to the creatures’ undersea nest and despatches the King Crab with a harpoon in the eye.

Like the 1960s films, this script is slightly at odds with the TV series. Following their precedent, Who is actually the surname of its leading characters. (In one scene, the older Doctor announces himself as “Who – Doctor Who,” obliging the younger model to introduce himself as “Dr Gruhgruh”.) But this is the least of its peculiarities. After the first fifteen pages, the document changes font. From this point, when the Doctors are mentioned, their names sometimes sit oddly on the page. The cover reveals the secret. Dr Who’s Greatest Adventure is credited to Edward and Valerie Abraham, the married team who wrote Subotsky’s final portmanteau horror, The Monster Club (1981). But the Abrahams were not hired to write a Doctor Who movie. The Time Lords are Subotsky’s later addition to a project he tried and failed to make at the end of the 1970s: an adaptation of a lurid pulp horror novel that became notorious in the school playgrounds of Britain – Guy N. Smith’s Night of the Crabs (1976).

Milton Subotsky’s King Crab script. Photo by Matthew Sweet.

Smith was a monstrously productive paperback writer who novelised Snow White and Sleeping Beauty for Disney, produced reams of soft porn (Sexy Secrets of Swinging Wives, Sexy Confessions of a Gym Mistress, etc), and respectable non-fiction about country pursuits, notably Moles and their Control (1980). His series of Crabs books did for crustaceans what James Herbert did for rats. They were read for the gore – “his one leg [was] a bloody stump from which scarlet fluid pumped, glowing like best vintage claret in the moonlight” – but they were also read for the sex. Crabs Moon (1984) begins with a woman leaving her kids sleeping in the holiday camp chalet for an assignation in the dunes with a lover called Keith. “The quivering length of solid male flesh took her breath away,” we’re told, before the crabs have it for a seaside snack.

Subotsky bought the rights in 1977, retitled it King Crab, and attracted a director, Michael Anderson – Oscar-nominated for Around the World in 80 Days (1956). The animation sculptor Alan Friswell, then a teenage art student, was employed to bring the monsters to life. “I got some crabs from the fishmonger and started experimenting,” he recalls. “I put bits of armatures into the shells to work out the logistics of the joints.” The plan, he remembers, was to mix stop-motion models with large-scale props and footage of real crabs. “We’d have needed to keep them cool, though, because they’d have just gone to sleep under the lights.”

The experiments ended when Subotsky suffered a much bigger reversal – the collapse of Thongor, the first of a projected epic series of fantasy epics. Recycling King Crab into Doctor Who was one of the many unrealised projects on which he toiled before his unexpected death in June 1991. It was pragmatic work. The protagonists of King Crab were a pair of romantically-involved marine biologists, Cliff and Pat. Subotsky restarted the Abrahams’ script with his pair of Time Lords, then allocated Cliff’s lines to the younger Doctor and Pat’s to the older incarnation. Sergei Subotsky has a one-word explanation of this technique. “Tippex.”

Guy N Smith was never told that his creations had been offered an appointment with Doctor Who. And this, perhaps, is the strongest reason to mourn the failure of the film. “He was quite eccentric,” says his daughter, Tara Paulsson.

Guy, donning black fedora hat and poncho, stands outside the police box in his garden. (Photographer unknown

“Sometimes I’d come home and he’d say: ‘Watch out, the North Koreans are up on the common!’ And Mum would roll her eyes, and I’d realise that it was a story he was working on. He lived through these stories. His heroes were Sherlock Holmes, Dick Barton, Doctor Who – and he never really grew out of these things.”

She has the proof in a family snapshot. Her father, in a fedora and poncho, posing outside the full-size police box that he acquired for his front garden. “It had a working blue flashing light on the top,” she recalls. “We live on a mountain. Even in the summer you can get gales. And it began to rot. So with great reluctance, we had to dismantle it.” The lamp, though, is still in her possession.

Smith died in December 2020, from Covid-related complications. If we could grant him one trip in his own TARDIS, surely we would set the coordinates for the British Film Institute, London, Earth, 2022, to hear the news that would have made him the most delighted fan in the room.

Matthew Sweet, The Telegraph, 5th July 2022.

Logo by Andrew-Mark Thompson

Dr Who Magazine took up the baton a few weeks later, with an article by Robert Fairclough and Kevin Lyons. One thing is for certain: Guy would have been over the moon at all these exciting developments!

Mystery Man” Diary 1957

And now for the long-awaited third instalment of Guy’s secret teenage diary, originally handwritten. Guy would have been just 18 years old when he wrote it and was already working in the Midland Bank. Enjoy…

Tuesday January 15th

I went up to Mrs Winfield’s tonight. I have had to alter my plans slightly. Di works at Wallbanks and Cynth did not come tonight as she had too much homework. I had a very good evening. I think next week will be the climax. I had lunch at Lewis’s with Mummy, Lance & Grandma today – Local went very well.

Wednesday January 16th

I am looking forward to Tues – more so now than before. The Local went well again today. At 3 o/c this afternoon the inspectors arrived – now trouble will start! Today I bought a record of Victor Sylvester & his ballroom orchestra playing “Paper-kisses.” I don’t know who I am more interested in – Cynth or Di. Time will tell. I mustn’t be too slow though.

Thursday January 17th

The Local went very well indeed again today. The inspectors are quite decent, but are a nuisance all the same. I had a haircut in Batt’s today – the barber who cut my hair thinned it out a bit – I am annoyed about it. Had a Book-Keeping lesson from Miss Brewster. I am still thinking of Di and Cynth.

Friday January 18th

Local went well again. Today has been fairly peaceful. In the lunch hour I went into W.H. Smith’s & looked through their Valentine’s cards. I got the 4.42 train today & went into the Bank and waited for Dad. Mr Dyne was telling me tall stories of when he was at New St. I am simply longing for Tuesday.

Saturday January 19th

I went for a walk round Hopwas wood with the gun today. I did not have a shot, but saw plenty of jays and carrion crows. On the way back I ran into the Dales pinching wood. I went to the pictures to see Gregory Peck in “Moby Dick.” I am dying for next Tuesday.

Sunday January 20th

I saw Billy today. He told me that the girl I am keen on is Diana Stanton. I now have a good excuse to talk to her. I have been in a restless mood all day thinking about her. Roll on Tuesday. In Tamworth this morning I saw Sid Faulkner & Fred Allsopp. A good play by Guy de Maupassant on T.V. tonight.

Monday January 21st

I am now on Country I. At New Street Station today a red-bearded man came up to me & said, “Don’t you remember me?” I said I didn’t & he said he left Wrekin in 1949. His name is Roll. He travelled with me as far as Water Orton. We had a nice chat about the old school. I am looking forward to tomorrow. I have everything fixed now.

Tuesday January 22nd

A terrible day. Country I & II would not balance. Did not leave office until 6pm. Rang Grandma to say I should not be home till late & went straight up to Miss Winfield’s. The girls did not come up tonight – was I disappointed or was I? I came home on the 9pm bus and watched Gun Law on T.V. I felt terribly disappointed. I hope things will go better next week.

Dedication by Kevin Kennedy

Black Hill Books Ltd’s Guy N. Smith publications are still on hold, regrettably, but you can find some of his work in different formats through other publishers (as listed in the last newsletter). However, in this newsletter we would like to give a special mention to KJK Publishing’s The Horror Collection: Ruby Edition, which contains Guy’s short story Larry’s Guest, and the following Dedication by Kevin J. Kennedy which appears in the front of the anthology.

‘I dedicate this book to two men who passed away last year, author Guy N. Smith and my father, John Kennedy.

I had the pleasure of working with Guy on several projects before he died and was lucky enough to buy some of his stories for previous anthologies. After his passing, I purchased another story from one of his daughters, who was dealing with Guy’s estate. It appears in this book. Guy was well-loved in the horror community and is sorely missed by us all. An extra nod to Guy’s work, my story in this anthology is a crab story. We all know Guy loved some crab horror – come on, how could I resist?

My father was not a writer; however, when my mother and I were going through everything after his passing, we came across a few poems he had written. I wanted to put one of them into print. While it’s not horror, I have included it in this book anyway. It’s hard to say whether he would have wanted me to publish it or not -– I feel like it’s something I had to do. I miss him immensely, and this lets me share a little piece of him in one of my books with all of you.

It’s a difficult time in anyone’s life when they lose someone they love. 2020 was a bad year for a lot of people. Many of us lost friends and family as a pandemic swept across the globe. They will always be missed and live on in our hearts. Though this book is dedicated to Guy N. Smith and John Kennedy, a piece of my heart goes out to every one of you who has lost someone. I hope, like me, you find some solace in being transported away to other worlds when you read.

To those who are gone, but forever in our hearts.

Kevin J. Kennedy.

Guy at his desk, wearing his trademark deerstalker hat and promoting the 2020 re-release of his 1978 novel Bats Out of Hell. Photo by Tim Sturgess, Express & Star.

Last Word: Nick Caton

“Oh my god, look at this one!” my eight year old self shouted across the rack of supposedly forbidden paperbacks to my year younger brother . It was the summer of ’76, you know…the one everyone still bangs on about now. We were enjoying our hols at a British seaside town, the name of which eludes me 46 years later. I’d turned eight 3 days earlier and had in my left hand my precious birthday money. As always it was going to be spent on books. My right hand contained a slim horror novel with the most luridly outrageous cover I’d ever seen. The monstrous giant crustacean, the broken “DANGER KEEP OUT” sign, the drips of (probably) human blood. It was frighteningly hypnotic. The large, now instantly recognisable font told me in garish pink that I was about to purchase ‘Night of the Crabs’. Its much smaller black cousin told me this thing of beauty was by a bloke called Guy N. Smith. Little did I know then that in the summer of ’22, you know…the one that now makes ’76 look like a practice run, I would be sitting on a terrace in the South of France still devouring Mr. Smith’s work.

I’d always been an advanced reader, the first kid at school to be given a book etc etc and by that rainless year I’d decided that James and his stupidly big fruit, Charlie and his cacao addiction were no longer going to keep me enthralled. I needed something more. More exciting, more dangerous, more…adult. I’ve no idea how long it took me to read NotC, 3 days at a guess, but I did know I needed more of the same. Somewhere I managed to find ‘The Slime Beast’ & ‘The Sucking Pit’ with their equally outrageous covers and these were ingested just as quickly as my first foray into Guy. If I couldn’t find a GNS on the shelves I’d satisfy my thirst with a Herbert or eventually a certain ‘King’ of horror. While reading these admittedly excellent authors, though, it was always more “click, click clickety-click” that I really desired.

Over the next few years I would spend so much time and what seemed then like so much money in my local WH Smith’s horror book section and the top shelf of my bookcase gradually began to fill – ‘Killer Crabs’, ‘Bats Out of Hell’, ‘Thirst’, ‘Deathbell’, ‘Locusts’, ‘Caracal’, the list seemed to be endless. My favourites then and still my favourites now were the animal attack stories but it didn’t really matter – if it had Guy N. Smith written on the cover I’d read it.

As is nearly always the case, though, children become adults and start to do adult things. I got jobs and stuff, bought a house, sold a house, got engaged, got disengaged, got married, stayed married, even moved countries. I remained a voracious reader though, it’s just that whereas my bus trips to school would be filled with tales of seafood biting back, my train commutes to ‘The Big Smoke’ would find me following the adventures of Ms Karenina or Casterbridge’s latest mayor. I think some flighty young thing by the name of Eyre made an appearance too. I still had the GNS’s, the Herbert’s, the King’s, the Lewis’s, the Halkin’s but they sat untouched with only dust for friends.

Fast forward to 2018. Our new life in France was about to begin. “Decide which of those books you want to take, because you can’t take them all,” my wife Vanessa quite rightly shouted at me. I perused my old friends for all of about 30 seconds before replying, “I’ll take the Guy N Smith’s but not the rest”. I think she was expecting Mr King to accompany us to the land of revolution, not Mr Smith. I had perhaps 20 of Guy’s ‘masterpieces’ 4 years ago but all of a sudden found myself going from working 60/70 hour weeks to having a weird thing called time to spare. My childhood obsession was about to rekindle itself as my 50 something obsession. I didn’t even know if Guy still existed. A quick Google search (imagine trying to explain that to my 8 year old self!) told me that not only was he still alive but he had churned out about a million more books and was still doing so. I had to have them all! An order from his website, a phone call a few weeks later when said order failed to materialise and all of a sudden I was actually talking to The Great Scribbler himself! I was beyond excited and told him so… numerous times, I expect. I chatted to him once or twice more – about books obviously, but also about his animals, his home, my upcoming move – it was all so natural. Sadly I never got to meet the man himself but I feel so privileged to have chatted on the phone and for it to feel like we were old friends.

Thanks to the internet (and also Shane Agnew’s amazing guide to collecting Guy’s work) I now have far too many to be called normal copies of Guy’s books. I have limited editions, signed editions, foreign editions, hardbacks, paperbacks, chapbooks, graphic novels…I really should stop now… shouldn’t I?

Guy relaxing with a friend. (His pipe.) Photograph by Lionel Mileman.

Newsletter written and compiled by Tara Paulsson, daughter of Guy N. Smith. We would like to say thank you to all our guest writers and contributors in this edition.

Copyright ©️ 2022 Black Hill Books Ltd