Founded by Thomas Volney Boardman in the 1930s, T.V. Boardman, Ltd. (Boardman Books), was but one of many London publishing houses turning out both paperback and hardcover books, pulp magazines, and comics. Boardman Books is best known for publishing the long-running monthly series of hardcover Bloodhound Mysteries, most with jacket illustrations by Denis McLoughlin. Boardman's Best American Detective Stories of the Year series is thought by some scholars of the genre to be the best collection of hard-boiled fiction ever published. Boardman published the first British hardcover edition of Robert E. Howard's The Coming of Conan as well as other titles originated by Gnome Press in the United States. Besides mystery, fantasy, and science fiction, Boardman Books published other genres of fiction and non fiction.
Boardman pioneered British reprinting of American comics. During the week of October 16, 1937, the first issue of a Boardman tabloid comic in the traditional British format, Okay Comics Weekly, arrived at newsagent's all over England. The content was mostly American newspaper strips and the first issue sported a cover strip by Will Eisner. Okay lasted only until February 26, 1938, or a total of twenty issues. At about this same time, other British publishers experimented with reprinting American comics and imports of the real thing began to land on British shores. It rapidly became apparent that a significant British market for American comic books existed.
However, the British declaration of war on Germany on September 3, 1939, immediately halted the official importation of American comics into the United Kingdom although masses of American comics intended for G.I.s began arriving in 1942. Already with a taste for American comics, Thomas Volney Boardman, Sr., made an arrangement with Everett Arnold of Quality Comics to produce British editions of two titles, Feature Comics (#29-33) and Smash Comics (#7-11) all appearing in 1940-1941. Because Boardman needed low priced titles to please his primary outlet, Woolworths Group's Department Stores, the British editions reprinted only about half the content of the American originals. To use the rest of the pages, Boardman created two additional corresponding titles in the American style, Super Funnies (#29-33) and Mystery Comics (#7-11).
After World War II, Boardman continued comic book production with a series of monthly comics produced by rotogravure and priced at a modest 3 pence. In the late-1940s, they introduced a number of children's annuals under their Popular Press line intended primarily for the Christmas market and sold almost exclusively through the Woolworth's department store chain. These annuals contained a mixture of text and comic strip stories. Some were original British creations while others were reprinted from America's Quality Comics. In the late-1950s, increased competition with now legal American comic book imports caused Boardman to drop their comics annual line. The last, Buffalo Bill True West Annual saw print in 1961.
The firm ceased operations entirely in 1967 although the Bloodhound Mystery line continued for several years from other publishers. The Bloodhound Mystery authors included Drew (Droo) Launay who wrote The Detective Adam Flute novels She Modelled Her Coffin The New Shining White Murder A Corpse in Camera Death and Still Life The Two Way Mirror The Scream which are shortly about to be republished in eBook format at http://www.drewlaunay.com Oct 2010.
- Gore, Matthew H. Collector's Corner: Denis McLoughlin, Goldenage Treasury Volume One. AC Comics: Longwood, Florida, 2003. Unpaginated.
- Hertzberg, Francis. Denis McLoughlin: The Master of Light & Shade. Gryphon Books: Brooklyn, New York, 1995.
- Holland, Steve. The Lancashire Cowboy and the Bloodhound: The Art of Denis McLoughlin, Paperback Parade, #24 (June, 1991), 60-62.
- Holland, Steve. The Mushroom Jungle. Zeon Books: Dilton Marsh, England, 1993.
- Lesser, Thomas M. The Boardman Hardcovers, Paperback Parade, #38 (April, 1994), 21-44.