Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Kelman D. Frost

At the tail end of the recent reprint of Wells Fargo and Pony Express published by Book Palace Books, we published short biographical sketches of the author and artist. Don Lawrence shouldn't need any introduction to fans of British comics but the author, Kelman Frost, might not be a name familiar to many.

He was the author of a number of books for children — forty according to one source, although only sixteen are known for sure — but his main output over many years was uncredited. He was one of the haldful of anonymous authors who filled the pages of D. C. Thomson's boys' story papers. Alongside the likes of Gilbert Dalton and Reginald George Thomas, he filled the pages of Adventure, Rover and Wizard with an endless stream of stories and, latterly, comic strips.

Altogether, Frost estimated that he had written almost 70 million words of fiction, refuelling his imagination with trips to Europe and North Africa. It was not unusual for him to have two series of stories — and occasionally as many as four series — running alongside each other in the same paper. At the height of their sales, Frost was reaching as many as five million readers a week through Thomson's titles alone.

Frost wrote some wildly imaginative stories. He penned tales about 'The Electric Shadow' for Adventure, related many of the schoolboy highjinks at 'Red Circle School' in Rover, revealed 'The Truth About Wilson' and reported on the exploits of 'The Wolf of Kabul' for Wizard. Over the years he also wrote stories featuring many other famous Thomson characters: 'Mogyn the Mighty', 'Strang the Terrible', 'Black Bob' and 'The Red Macgregor'.

Frost also turned his pen to writing comic scripts, although his full output is unlikely ever to be known. His earliest known work was the adventures of 'Don Conquest' for Mickey Mouse Weekly, which ran from 1954 to 1957, although it seems likely that his main comic output was probably for The Hotspur, relaunched as a comic (The New Hotspuri) in 1959.

Frost, whose full name was Christopher Kelman Delgity Frost, was born in Plumstead, Kent, in 1899 and died at his hom in Bournemouth in 1972. His writing career spanned some fifty-seven years, having begun as a junior reporter with the North Wilts Herald at the age of 16. His first fiction began appearing soon after, written in the trenches whilst he served with the London Rifle Brigade. From 1922 he was able to write full time and for the next fifty years entertained children the length and breadth of the country with his action-filled stories.

The Wells Fargo/Pony Express is available from Book Palace Books.

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