Streets of London

Some of my favourite articles come about because of luck rather than planned investigation. And I have a feeling that this article is going to be in that number due to the fact that I went looking for information on Jeff Bevan and found Dixon Hawke.

And I did well to find the information that I went looking for, but I also found some rather interesting information on his father, a gentleman by the name of William Oscar Bevan. It turns out that Jeff Bevan’s artistic talent runs in the family as his father’s art is truly a thing of beauty as can be seen by this picture of a warship fighting the high seas and the enemy.

W O Bevan Destroyer

And it turns out that William Bevan is also connected with a character that is beloved of some mature comic fans as he posed for photographs as Dixon Hawke.

And here is the cover to case book issue 3 that was provided to me by his daughter-in-law.

Dixon Hawke Case Book cover

Don’t worry if you are not familiar with Dixon Hawke as I sure as heck wasn’t before I started this article. Due to the  success of Sherlock Holmes, each publishing house, in the late 19th and early 20th Century, wanted to have their own detective adventurer. For example, Sexton Blake first appeared in Alfred Harmsworth’s Union Jack  in 1894 and moved around a fair bit and ended up being owned by IPC. However, it took a court case to figure out that IPC owned the character and as a result, we ended up with Victor Drago in Tornado instead of Sexton Blake, but that is a story for another blog article. And Dixon Hawke was D C Thomson’s take on the character.

Now in case some of you are wondering why Dixon Hawke is of interest than usual, then here is an extract from one of the few sites that has a decent amount of information on the character of Dixon Hawke. As this is a scrape of a defunct site, I am reproducing what the owner of the site had put in full.

Dixon Hawke debuted in “The Great Hotel Mystery” in The Saturday Post #347 (6 April 1912) and appeared in the The Saturday Post, The Sporting Post, The Dixon Hawke Library, Adventure, several casebooks, and Topical Times, running continuously from 1912 through at least 1989. W O G Lofts makes the point that this gives Hawke at least 5000 stories, eclipsing the 3848 (roughly) published about Sexton Blake, and makes Hawke quite possibly the most published character of all time. And now I’ve heard from a very nice gentleman named Steve Finan, who is the deputy news editor for the Dundee Evening Telegraph, a D C Thomson newspaper; Mr. Finan informed me, in response to my question about this, that the last copy of the Sporting Post appeared on 27 May 2000, that Hawke had appeared in the Evening Telegraph for some months before the Post ceased publication, but that the Evening Telegraph also stopped publication on 27 May 2000, thus ending Hawke’s career. That gives Hawke at least 5560 stories, which is very respectable, indeed.

No one knows quite who created Hawke, but the list of authors who wrote Hawke stories is quite respectable:Edgar Wallace (probably), Edwy Searles Brooks, John Creasey, Anthony Skene, T C H Jacobs, Lewis Carlton, Richard Goyne, Gilbert Chester, F Addington Symonds, Rex Hardinge, Reginald Thomas, Lester Bidston, Frank Howe, George Goodchild, Roy Vickers, and W W Sayer . Hawke was very much in the Holmes/Blake/Nelson Lee mold. When he began he was a Scots detective living and working in Bath Street, Glasgow. His assistant was named Nipper, like Sexton Blake’s assistant, and sold papers in the street, like Nelson Lee’s assistant Tinker. Together the two fought crime and some very interesting criminals in Glasgow and around Scotland. But at the end of World War One D C Thomson, the publisher of Dixon Hawke, decided to move Hawke into the “teenage and upwards” market, and so moved Hawke to London. Hawke’s flat was now on Dover Street, and his assistant was now named Tommy Burke. Hawke was now tall and “aquiline,” with a “clear cut face.” He was around 35 and wore a dressing gown while lounging around his quarters, like Holmes. Also like Holmes, he smoked a “blackened briar” and had a Mrs. Hudson-like housekeeper named Mrs Martha Benvie. Like Sexton Blake, however, he had a faithful and ferocious bloodhound named Solomon and drove a powerful Sunbeam roadster. In addition to Tommy Burke, Hawke was assisted by a Japanese valet/chauffeur named Wong. His Lestrade, in his Glasgow days, was Chief Detective Inspector Duncan McPhinney; when Hawke moved to London, his new police contact became Detective Chief Inspector Baxter of New Scotland Yard.

Guy N Smith, one of the later (1970s) writers of Hawke for the Dundee Sporting Post, described Hawke thusly in 1973:

There were, in fact, two Dixon Hawkes, purporting to be the same character, yet quite unrecognisable except by name. We have the one who still exists today, the Hawke who solved his problems by sheer brain-power and super-deduction, more allied to Sherlock Holmes (on whom he was probably modelled in the first place) than Sexton Blake. Then we have a lively version of the Dover Street detective who battled with master-criminals through the pages of the Adventure. This man was a contemporary of Blake, relying as much on lively action as theory, and escaping from various situations with the agility of a Houdini.

Hawke dined regularly with the Prime Minister and other highly-placed officials, having friends at the highest levels of society as well as with Detective Inspector Duncan McPhinney, Hawke’s police contact with Scotland Yard. Blake needed them, too; his cases were often very violent and action-packed, taking Hawke and Burke to New York, San Francisco, Yokohama, Tibet, Mexico City, Rio de Janeiro, Paris, Berlin, Cairo, and any number of other major metropoli, as well as more than a couple of hidden cities. Hawke spent some time in the American West, fighting enemies who more properly belonged in the 1870s; he spent time in Haiti, posing as a witch doctor and fighting voodoo-using villains. Hawke’s enemies were violent and cruel; there were the usual jewel thieves, international criminal syndicates, mad scientists, insane desert raiders and white slavers, but in addition to them there were a number of Blake-ian individuals. Most of Hawke’s enemies, in J. McMahon’s words, “came to a sticky end by the final chapter,” but there were a couple who dogged Hawke for years on end. Most memorably there was Marko the Miracle Man, who despite beginning life in 1923 as a Waldo the Wonder Man fix-up bedevilled Hawke for fourteen years. Another recurring enemy was Nicollete Lazarre, the “Black Angel,” an adventuress not unlike Sexton Blake’s Mademoiselle Yvonne or Nelson Lee’s Mademoiselle Miton, the Black Wolf. There was also “We Must Wipe Out Dixon Hawke,” a notable sequence from the late 1940s in which Dixon Hawke was trying to break up an international crime-ring with the help of District Attorney Myers, from Jerris City, U.S.A.; in turned out that Myers, naturally, was the scoundrelly leader of the crime-ring.

Of the rest of Hawke’s enemies, well, there’s precious little written about Hawke, never mind his villains, so I have only a list of names to go on, although some of the names are quite evocative, indeed. There was the Yellow Ghost, a Japanese spy (this was during WW2) who wore a fabric which was “so black that it wouldn’t reflect light,” thereby turning the Ghost invisible; Dr. Den the Arch Rogue; the Microbe, an Edwy Searles Brooks creation and a villainous dwarf; the Snake; “Yokota the Jap;” Li Foo, the “Super Chinese Criminal;” the Iron Master, a German general and criminal; the Tiger; the Six Wolves of Doom; the Snipe; “Fuh Canton, the White Chinaman;” Sun-Fu, another Yellow Peril threat (Hawke dealt with a lot of them); the Black Slink; “Kito the Dwarf;” the Faceless Men; the masters of the City of Sinister Slaves, the Island of the Lost Men, the City of Lost Secrets, and the Black Terror. There was the Yellow Shadow, the Submarine Pirate, the Man from Singapore, Lucky Lorrancie, Koojah Khan the Man of Mystery, the Red Avenger, Fighting Jack Lorne, the Man with Three Faces, the Masked Rider, the Hurricane, the League of the Purple Dragon, the Masked Juggler, Warlock of the Wanderers, the Hooded Peril, the Human Whirlwind, the India-Rubber Man, the Blue Streak, the League of the Silver Horseshoe. There was the Rajah of Bolpore, the League of the Crimson Diamond, the Phantom Detective, the Shadow with Two Faces, Zingard the Man from the Wilds, the Phantom Acrobat, the Invisible Raider, the Human Fly, Flash Ned, the Riders of Red Canyon, the Sons of Baba Zand, the Spider, Jim the Jester, Mr. Q, the Wolf of Paris, the Flame-King, the Chinese Archer, the Man with 20 Doubles, the Hunchback of Berlin, Six-Hit Samson, the Gorilla Man, Dr. Selwyn, Mr. X, the Sinister Hunchback, the Tiger Man, the Queen of Crime, the Lord of Gorilla Valley and the list goes on and on.

In case there are fans of old time story papers reading this blog, the link that I found this information was on this old geocities link. And there is plenty of information on other old time heroes and villains for you to enjoy.

One of the other reasons that I have been excited to find this is that there are only a few times when you have found a parent and child that are both talented and been fortunate enough to have been successful. One modern example that jumps out at me and they are Alan Moore and his daughter Leah Reppion where both are successful comic writers.

And just so that you know that Dixon Hawke is on the case looking for any new clues on how we can solve the mystery of getting more people to like comics, here is the man himself, ably portrayed, once more, William Oscar Bevan.

Dixon on the case

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