Oftentimes when we think about characters like Batman, James Bond or Harry Potter, we imagine they will go on and on ad infinitum. Despite the overwhelming merchandising juggernauts that these properties have become, that’s not really the case.
Take Leslie Charteris’ The Saint. This character, a devil-may-care adventurer, debuted in a story called Meet the Tiger in 1928. He then went on to a long career of battling bad guys in more novels, magazines, radio shows, TV shows, movies and even comics.
But I feel if I offered $100 to the first of my college students who could tell me (without looking it up on the web) who the character the Saint is – I’d still have that C-note!
I was introduced to The Saint through the long-running 60sTV show. This was, in some ways, a multi-season audition for the star, Roger Moore, for his subsequent role as James Bond. Moore was charming, focused and fun – just right for the part.
The series focused on light mysteries and adventures in glamorous cities all around the world. The Saint would usually romance a different co-star each week. And one of the cleverest bits of the show was a recurring gag right before the opening theme song. Invariably, some random character would recognize the ‘famous Simon Templar, aka The Saint” and call him out. (Simon Templar was kind of famous in the world he inhabited.) An animated halo would magically appear over Moore’s head and then he’d notice the animation, look up at it and shrug in resignation. He was definitely in on the joke. It was all very meta before meta was a thing.
And I have another thought for this week. I think it’s always great to read a mystery or two during the summertime. On the beach, if possible. And I want to make it easy for you all to do just that.
So, this week I’m featuring the Saint + a mystery story. The following pages are from an old issue of Life Magazine* that present a comic (but with photos instead of illustrations) of a Saint mystery adventure.
For this drama, The Saint is played by the author Leslie Charteris. It’s set in the glamorous setting of Palm Springs. And it’s a “fair play mystery”, so see if you can figure out who the villain is before The Saint does!
*thanks to Professor Laurence Maslon for the heads up!