Image © estate of Kin Platt, cover illustration by Leonard Everett Fisher.
Kin Platt was a talented man in many fields and genres. He was a comics artist throughout the 1940s, working on all kinds of stories from science fiction (CAPTAIN FUTURE) to teen humor (RUSTY). Then he wrote and drew the syndicated strip “Mr. and Mrs.” from 1947 to 1963. When that ended he focused on writing books for children and adults, and was quite successful and prolific at that, with some occasional work as an animation writer as well. Platt wrote four novels for younger readers about Steve Forrester, a boy who keeps running into mysteries with supernatural or science fictional elements. The best of them is “Sinbad and Me,” which I reviewed in the link. The first written, and the last I discovered is this one. I reviewed it once before, but that review was of the abridged paperback edition. Not long after, in 2011, I was contacted by Kin Platt’s son Chris, who told me that the original hardcover edition of the book was better, and some of the elements I’d felt were missing in the paperback were because of the abridgment. He also told me he had republished the hardcover himself, and offered to send me a copy. I was happy to agree. Below is the note that came with the book.
I did want to read this version, but unfortunately it took me until recently to get to it. When I did, the foreword by Christopher Platt was eye opening. Chris tells what it was like to grow up with his father, and how much he, himself, loved the books. Chris’s dad wrote, in the copy of “The Blue Man” he gave to his son, “For my boy Chris — who might be Steve.” It seems the father may well have been inspired by his son in creating Steve Forrester. How cool it is, having enjoyed the books myself, to have received one from the inspiration!
Christopher Platt’s edition of “The Blue Man” is from his own Two Lakes Press of St. Joseph, Minnesota, and was published in 2005. It seems to be the only book he published, so I imagine it was not a financial success, which is too bad, it’s a fine and exciting story. In searching online I haven’t found evidence that Two Lakes Press is still in business, or any copies of this edition, either. I hope there are some out there to be found.
The story, though the first written, has young Steve as a teenager, old enough to drive himself from Long Island to a small hotel in the country many miles north. (The other Steve Forrester books, which feature Sinbad, his English Bulldog sidekick, have him at a younger age.) Left alone in charge of the hotel one night, a very strange man checks in. Not only is he uncommunicative, he seems almost alien, with strange blue skin and the apparent ability to disrupt electric lines and radio signals. Steve tries to investigate, and develops a theory that The Blue Man is actually a Martian sent to pave the way for an invasion. While Steve is sleeping, his uncle at last gets back and soon confronts the blue guest, but things escalate into violence, and when Steve arrives in the hotel lobby, his uncle is on the floor unconscious, perhaps dead, and The Blue Man has fled in a stolen car. Incensed, Steve takes off after him, thus beginning a thrilling, suspenseful chase with lots more danger, twists and turns, as well as help from a young woman, Penny, who seems to be the only one who believes Steve’s story.
It’s a great read. I regret that I didn’t blog about it sooner. I hope anyone who’s interested can locate a copy. Highly recommended.