It’s probably not a secret to my regular readers, but I enjoy the work of Don Pendelton— his original The Executioner novels as well as his Joe Copp series—and I’ve been “rediscovering” his work over the past few months and I have enjoyed every minute of it.
While I was cruising around Google a few days ago I came across his obituary in the New York Times. The author credits DP with the creation of a genre (a notion I share) and goes on to say that without Don Pendelton there would be no Rambo, or any of the other super hero types from 1980s film and literature.
The Rambo comparison intrigued me because the film and novel are very different. I can see a clear correlation with the Stallone film, but the David Morrell novel is less clear. The hero does not fit the super hero mold, and the novel, while firmly in the action thriller category, is much darker and more realistic (than the Mack Bolan books) with both emotion and turmoil.
The obituary is interesting, and mostly spot-on. Here it is, at least part of it…
You’ll notice the paper misspelled the last name of Mack Bolan.
Don Pendleton, 67, Writer Who Spawned a Genre
By ROBERT MCG. THOMAS JR.
Published: October 28, 1995
Don Pendleton, whose "Executioner" series featuring Mack Boland spawned the paperback genre of men's action-adventure novels, died on Monday at his home in Sedona, Ariz. He was 67.
His wife, Linda, said the cause was a heart attack.
In the beginning there were westerns, mysteries and science fiction. But until Mr. Pendleton, a onetime air traffic controller, brought Mack Boland to unlikely literary life in 1969, there was no action-adventure category, in which a lone, well-armed fantasy hero wreaks unremitting havoc on the forces of evil in modern society.
Within a decade of Boland's first appearance, the action-adventure genre was a publishing phenomenon, for a while rivaling if not eclipsing its women's counterpart, romance novels.
As surely as Owen Wister's "Virginian," gave the world William S. Hart, Hopalong Cassidy, Roy Rogers and the rest, Mr. Pendleton brought forth Rambo, and scores of other copycat heroes. (Curiously, although there have been two projects, "The Executioner" has never made it to the screen.)
Indeed, a 1988 survey found a total of 66 separate action-adventure series in print. But the genre has been in a sharp decline recently, and only a half-dozen or so survive, "The Executioner" among them.
To read the rest of the obituary go Here