Originally published in America in the late-1950s and early-1960s, the Brains Benton series is a diminutive set of six mysteries that remains hugely popular with fans and collectors alike. The stories follow the exploits of the Benton and Carson International Detective Agency, which consists solely of the eponymous duo of intellectual whiz Barclay 'Brains' Benton, and his dogged and faithful companion Jimmy Carson.
Despite the high standard of writing, plotting and characterization in these tales, only six stories were ever written and published. The first, The Case of the Missing Message, was penned by Charles Spain Verral, who also had a hand in the creation of the remaining five novels (despite their attribution to the pseudonym of George Wyatt).
The series spread across Europe in the period from the mid-1960s to the mid-1970s. The majority of these releases fall into two distinctive groups. The first of these is the so-called 'Mini-Golden' editions; the small, pocket-sized hardbound books that were published in four European countries by offshoots of Golden Press, an imprint of Western Publishing in the USA. All six stories appeared in this format, where each book was lavishly illustrated with numerous colour and black and white illustrations.
The introduction to the 'Mini-Golden' titles provides a wealth of background and explanatory information on these releases. Thereafter, the individual pages for Italy, France, Great Britain and Germany give more specific details on the variations of this format published in those four countries.
The bulk of the remaining European editions uncovered so far hail from the Scandinavian countries of Sweden, Finland and Norway & Denmark. The Brains Benton stories were translated and published in these countries in the early-1970s. The Finnish titles are unique in their utilization of the original US cover artwork, while the books from the other Scandinavian countries feature very attractive artwork by artists Robert Viby and Ola Ericson.
In 1975, the German second editions of Missing Message and Counterfeit Coin were published. These unusual releases, which do not fall into either of the two groups mentioned above, are particularly notable for being credited not to Verral or Wyatt, but instead to the pseudonym of Frank Milford.
A total of five European artists - all of different nationalities - illustrated the adventures of Brains and Jimmy. The Artwork section looks at their work in detail. Galleries of the cover art for each of the six books in the series are also provided there.
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Thus, the idea for Brains Benton in Europe was born; the first time that any non-US editions of this cult series have ever been examined and categorized in such detail. As more information about these books comes to light, the site will be updated accordingly and therefore can be fairly judged as a 'work-in-progress'.
The possibility still exists that other European countries and/or territories may have their own versions of the Brains Benton adventures. Unfortunately, the research conducted so far has failed to find any Spanish, Polish or Portuguese editions. Any information on any potential 'undiscovered' releases would be greatly welcomed.
I dedicate this website to the many 'Benton-ites' around the world who have been enthralled and entertained by these stories over the years. Enjoy!
Ian Regan (December 2007).
I cannot continue without mentioning the names of a few individuals who have been instrumental in helping me obtain some of the books seen on this website; some of which were very hard to find indeed. Lars Thur (Denmark); Olav Grimstad (Norway), Jonny Nilsson (Sweden) and Sven Haarmann (Germany), have all provided invaluable assistance, without which this site would truly be a shadow of its present content and form.
Finally, the folks over at the Brains Benton Yahoo Group richly deserve a name check for maintaining what has to be one of the most fanatic, humorous and entertaining message boards on the information superhighway.