The author of the Rex Brandon, Jungle Hunter series was a prolific author of westerns and science fiction, producing an astonishing number of novels (more than 80) during a post WW2 boom period of publishing.
Born in London, England, Denis Hughes (1917-2008) was the son of noted Victorian artist Talbot Hughes. He was training as a pilot during WW2, when a serious crash ended his flying career. Attracted to writing by the expanding post-war market in paperback publishing, his first book (an espionage thriller) was published in 1948.
In 1950, his UK publisher Curtis Warren had launched their six-novel Azan the Apeman series, written by “Marco Garron” (David Griffiths), commissioned after the hugely successful Mark Goulden/W. H. Allen (later Pinnacle Books) reprints of ERB’s Tarzan novels.
But the ‘Azan the Apeman’ banner was such a blatant copy of Tarzan that E.R.B. Inc. threatened Curtis with prosecution unless the books were taken off the market.
To cover their losses, in May 1951 Curtis Warren brought Denis Hughes into the writing seat and a new series of jungle adventures began, this time featuring his original character, Rex Brandon. To capitalize on their earlier series, Curtis Warren issued the books under the byline of ‘Marco Garon’ (only one ‘r’ in ‘Garon’).
These fast-moving action-packed novels books were successful enough for the publisher and author to issue a further six titles in 1951, and another four in 1952. Most of these short novels have decidedly fantastic elements, and are infused with the same weird imagination Hughes displayed in his many ‘science fantasy’ novels. All of them are set in the African jungle, except for the last one, Mountain Gold, which, exceptionally, is a ‘straight’ adventure set in the Yukon.
When his main publisher collapsed in 1954, Hughes switched to writing exclusively for the established D.C. Thomson, famous publisher of boys’ papers. Until his retirement in the 1980s Hughes became one of their mainstay (albeit anonymous) writers for such comics as Victor, Hotspur, Wizard and Warlord (the latter title inspired by Hughes’ “Scarlet Pimpernel” type WW2 secret agent character, Lord Peter Flint, alias ‘Warlord’.)
Because most of his novels had been published pseudonymously, Hughes fell out of print for many years, until researcher Philip Harbottle revealed his authorship. Since then all of his ‘lost’ novels are currently being reprinted under his real name.