Besides the very popular and well-known Sea Hunt comic books, there were many more Sea Hunt books of varying designs and topics produced.
Some of these were legitimate hard-cover books with a story, either a Sea Hunt adventure episode or about scuba diving generally. Others were fun books like coloring books and still more were TV promotional books that included feature articles about Sea Hunt.
I present the books in my collection in some kind of logical order although my logic may escape others.
Here we go ….
(click on images to enlarge)
Mask and Flippers is a fairly common book that I classify as a SEA HUNT book simply because it was written by Lloyd Bridges. Moreover, it was written by Lloyd Bridges because he was considered a very knowledgeable, expert scuba diver based on his persona Mike Nelson in the TV series.
In truth, Lloyd Bridges was no expert scuba diver. He took his first lesson in scuba diving the day before the first underwater shots were to be made. He was an enthusiastic water sportsman and he enjoyed the water with his family at their cottage on the Pacific Coastal Highway in Malibu. Of interest, that cottage is still there, largely unchanged. But he was not an expert scuba diver and admitted so himself.
So if Lloyd was no expert, who really wrote Mask and Flippers?
There is a hint in the title. The actual title is “The Story Of Skin Diving – Mask and Flippers” and the cover shows it is “by Lloyd Bridges as told to Bill Barada”. The italics are original.
Bill Barada was an expert scuba diver. He was a scuba instructor and yes, he was the one who taught Lloyd Bridges how to scuba dive so he could play the part of Mike Nelson. Zale Perry was his assistant instructor and she was also a stunt diver in many of the Sea Hunt episodes.
I believe the text of the book was from Bill Barada with Lloyd adding some ideas and some pictures.
Besides knowing some of this from conversations with Zale Perry, it makes perfect sense. The book is a textbook about the sport of scuba diving. It follows the usual format as the many similar scuba textbooks written at the time and since too. It would be something that Bill Barada would want to do. Lloyd Bridges was interested because it furthered his career and, of course, added to his income.
So, from the start, if you were expecting Mask and Flippers to be an exciting underwater adventure story with the famous Mike Nelson doing his thing, you will be disappointed. The book does have a center photo section with numerous black & white pictures of divers engaged in various aspects of the sport. Two of those pages feature Lloyd Bridges. One is a series of shots from Sea Hunt showing Mike Nelson at work (including wrestling an alligator) and the other shows Lloyd with his son Jeff (in scuba gear) on the shore with some other young boys.
All of that aside, the book was published in 1960 by the Chilton Company in Philadelphia, USA and by Ambassador Books in Toronto, Canada. It proved quite popular and there was a second printing in February 1961.
Also, a soft-cover version was printed by Cornerstone Library of New York.
So, there is the original hard-cover version with a full-color slipcover as well as a soft-cover version.
You ought to have these two Mask and Flipper books in your collection.
I have seven copies of Mask and Flippers in my SEA HUNT collection!! They are all different. Here’s the list with highlights to show the differences between the books:
(click on the images to enlarge)
Book #1 is the original, hardcover Mask and Flippers with a mint condition slipcover. It is a first edition since it does NOT indicate there is a second printing. RR 2.
Book #2 is a second edition, hardcover with a mint slipcover and it shows the original copyright date PLUS the date of the second printing. RR 1
Book #3 is a second edition, hardcover, mint slipcover with a personal message and signature from Lloyd Bridges. RR 5
Book #4 is a second edition, hardcover, nice slipcover with a personal message and signature from Bill Barada. RR 5
Book #5 is a second edition, softcover in mint condition. The pictures on the front cover are different from the hardcover version but the text is identical. The inside photos are also identical but are scattered through the book rather than collected in the center. RR 1
Book #6 is a hardcover with a good slipcover. This book was published and printed in Great Britain by W.H. Allen of London in 1961 with a second printing in December of 1961. If you check back you will see that the publication and the second printing dates are later than the US edition. Also, while the book itself is almost identical other than the dates and names of the publisher and printer, the slipcover is quite different. The photo of Mike Nelson faces in the opposite direction. It’s the same picture but he is reversed in it. Plus the text is altered somewhat including, surprisingly, no mention of Bill Barada at all. Also, the back of the slipcover is an advertisement for other W.H. Allen publications. RR 4
Book #7 is a hardcover, with a good slipcover. This book was published and printed in Spain by Editorial Bruguera in Barcelona in 1962. Needless to say, it is written in Spanish. I would love to tell you more but my Spanish is weak. I assume that the text is the same. The center photo section is identical, with the captions in Spanish. The slipcover is also different. The picture of Mike Nelson is a painting rather than a photo and the title is “Investigador Submarino” which interestingly is the title of the Mexican SEA HUNT comic too. Perhaps “SEA HUNT” doesn’t translate well in Spanish. RR 4
Click on the picture below to watch the video I made of my Sea Hunt Remembered: “Mask and Flippers” books.
There you go, a complete Mask and Flippers collection as part of my SEA HUNT collection.
I won’t bore you with the details, or the time and cost involved in acquiring these books although it’s not really boring. Some other time perhaps.
On to the next books.
Click on titles to open/close details
1. “Sea Hunt” by Cole Fannin
This very popular book was written by Cole Fannin and was one of the famous, so-called Whitman books for kids. Published by the Whitman Publishing Company of Racine, Wisconsin, there were hundreds of Whitman books, mostly based on TV characters, as in this case – Mike Nelson from Sea Hunt.
The story is a typical Sea Hunt line with Mike being hired to find a treasure and getting into some serious trouble in the process. Of course, Mike Nelson being Mike Nelson, everything works out perfectly by the end – the treasure is found, Mike is safe and the bad guys are behind bars.
The book uses only drawings for illustrations. Even the front cover is a drawing of Mike. Each of the 15 chapters has another exciting drawing in the middle of the chapter showing Mike doing his thing. The inside of each hard cover is likewise covered by an exciting drawing of Mike underwater.
There was only one of these books published in North America. Many of the Whitman books had more than one book for their chosen TV topic. ‘Rin Tin Tin’ for example, had three books. ‘Trixie Beldon’ had five!! Five books for Trixie Beldon and only one for Sea Hunt – give me a break!!!
However, it is a pretty book and an easy, fun read. RR 1
2. “Abenteuer Unter Wasser” by Cole Fannin
Full Title: “Im Golf von Californien mit Mike Nelson”
This is the first of the German series of 5 story books based on Sea Hunt. Rather than Sea Hunt, a copyrighted name, they were called “Adventure Underwater” with this first book titled “In the Gulf of California with Mike Nelson”. It is the same story as found in the Whitman book as written by Cole Fannin. It has the same 15 chapters and even the illustrations are similar, not identical but similar.
Here are some differences from the Whitman book. This German book and the one to follow, are much higher quality with solid covers, binding, paper and even a highly colorful slip cover.
This first book has a photo of Mike Nelson on the front cover. The rest do not.
All of the German Sea Hunt books were published by Engelbert-Verlag in the tiny town called Balve in Westfalen, Germany. The last couple of pages in each book lists the other publications of Engelbert-Verlag and their price. At the time (1962) this Sea Hunt book sold for DM 4.9 which is about $3.00. RR 3
3. “Abenteuer Unter Wasser” by Glenn Ford
Full Title: “Die Ladung Der Fukushima Maru” mit Mike Nelson
4. “Abenteuer Unter Wasser” by Glen Ford
Full title: “Mike Nelson in Gefahr vor Peru”
Number 3 of the German Sea Hunt books, titled “Mike Nelson In Danger of Peru” and again written by Glenn Ford (?). And again, because my German is limited to what I picked up watching Hogan’s Heroes, I have no idea what the story is about. I’m guessing it took place in Peru. Another very colorful slip cover though. RR 3
5. “Abenteuer Unter Wasser” by George Giersen
Full title: “Aufrag Yukatan mit Mike Nelson”
Number 4 of the German Sea Hunt story books called, “Order Yucatan with Mike Nelson”, which doesn’t give much of a clue to the story line other than it probably was set in the Yucatan, was written by George Giersen (?). Another very nice slip cover. I may not be able to read the book but I love the covers!!
Hopefully my dear grandmother will forgive me.
She was from Mecklenburg, Germany. RR 3
6. “Abenteuer Unter Wasser” by George Giersen
Full Title: “Projekt Futur IV” (Mike Nelson is NOT on the cover)
Number 5 and the last of the German Sea Hunt books also has a colorful and exciting slip cover.
How do I know there are 5, and only 5, of these books?
I mentioned that the publisher, Engelbert-Verlag, used the last couple of pages to advertise their books. In the process, they list the title for each series as they are published. In the case of the Sea Hunt books, each book shows the list of the books before it so I know the titles and the order of the Sea Hunt books. In this book the previous 4 titles appear in order.
How do I know this is the last of the series?
Well, that’s a bit of a guess based on the fact that other, later books from this publisher never show a Sea Hunt title beyond this issue. Also, my very good friends in Germany who watch for Sea Hunt memorabilia for me have never reported another Sea Hunt book in the last 10 years. RR 3
So there you have the 5 German Sea Hunt hardcover story books.
7. “You Caught Me Kissing” by Dorothy Bridges
This is not strictly speaking a Sea Hunt book nor a piece of Sea Hunt memorabilia. I have included it here for several reasons:
– Dorothy Bridges (Dot or Mom) was a major part of Lloyd’s life for 60 years. They met in university, married in 1938, had 4 children and stayed together until Lloyd’s death in 1998. I suspect part of Lloyd’s success, including Sea Hunt, was due to Dorothy. Certainly Lloyd thought so and said as much many times.
– there are many references to Sea Hunt in her book including some wonderful pictures taken during filming and some pictures of the entire family enjoying the surf at their home in Malibu.
– Dorothy appeared in an episode of Sea Hunt with Lloyd (Beau Bridges appeared in 2 episodes; Jeff Bridges appeared in 4 episodes).
– this copy of the book has Dorothy’s signature (PLUS the signature of Beau, Jeff and Lucinda (Cindy).
– it’s a beautiful book filled with emotional poems written by Dorothy throughout their marriage. It also has many personal photographs from their respective childhoods and right to the end and with many of the family together as well.
Published in 2005 (Lloyd died in 2008; Dorothy in 2009), distributed by Simon & Shuster; very pretty slip cover; bright red hard cover with a forward by each of the children. RR 1
Here are some more odd Sea Hunt books from Germany.
Clearly Sea Hunt was a big deal in Germany. They had the hardcover story books (look under story books), they had the many regular, soft cover comic books, many more than in the US (look under comic books), and now they have a series of hard cover comic books.
By hard cover comic books, I mean exactly that – these are comic books with the same stories as in the regular comic books although NOT in color and with rather odd line diagram illustrations, but printed in a hard cover version.
These books are 9” x 12” with a full front color cover that is taken right from the US comic books. The inside front cover is used to advertise other books from the same publisher. The facing page, sort of an introductory page, has a small illustration and the title of the book and story.
The next page is pretty neat. It’s a full 2-page illustration of all the characters in the story – Mike Nelson of course, plus all the bad guys and good guys and maybe a picture of the activities in the story. This 2-page picture is different for each book. Again, remember, these are all black & white line drawings.
Regular Sea Hunt fans will recognize the stories from the comic book series. The books generally have about 36 pages, not numbered but the last past is marked “ENDE” (German for ‘end’!). There, now you can read German.
And they have some exciting illustrations throughout.
These books were published by the South Netherlands Publisher in Antwerp, Belgium.
There are 5 books in the series. I have 7 books. You will see why.
Let’s look at them individually.
1a. Abenteuer Unter Wasser – Mike Nelson Looking for Treasure (translation)
Book #1 is as described above and contains the well-known story of Mike Nelson looking for a Spanish shipwreck that has a lot of gold treasure. Of course, in the meantime he is attacked by sharks underwater and then on land – bad guys who want the treasure. But Mike always comes through. He gets the treasure and the bad guys are hauled off by the Coast Guard.
This is the first book and the first edition – 1959. The inside front cover which lists the books published, does not show any Sea Hunt books at all.
1b. Abenteuer Unter Wasser – Mike Nelson Looking for Treasure (translation)
At first glance this seems to be identical to the first book but a closer examination shows two differences – the publishing date is 1961 AND, even more interesting, the list of books available from this publisher on the inside front cover, now shows that there are 3 Sea Books. Clearly this is a later edition.
1c. Abenteuer Unter Wasser – Mike Nelson Looking for Treasure (translation)
Again this book looks the same as Books 1a and 1b but nope. Even more interesting differences. First, the list of books on the inside front cover shows that there are now 5 Sea Hunt books available. Then, the illustration opposite that list, on the first page or inside flyleaf, is different. It’s still a large Spanish ship but this time it’s a much bigger ship and is clearly foundering on a reef. Then the next page, the double illustration is also different with completely different people.
Again this is clearly a different edition, a different book.
2. Abenteuer Unter Wasser – Mike Nelson in the Green Hell of Amazon (translation)
This book has a great front cover, bright green and showing Mike in all his scuba gear, taken right from a US comic cover of course. Published 1961.
The list of available books printed on the inside front cover shows only 2 Sea Hunt books so this was obviously published before books 1b and 1c.
The story is the very familiar trip to the Amazon River by Mike to look for archeological treasures, a trip interrupted by a man-eating turtle, a school of flesh-devouring Piranhas, a monstrous Boa Constrictor, all of which Mike handles with his usual cool ease, and worst of all, men with guns. But it all works out in the end. Mike gets the treasure, the bad guys are locked up and Mike sails off with the pretty lady. Well, he would have if there’d been a pretty lady!
3. Abenteuer Unter Wasser – A Secret Case for Mike Nelson (translation)
4. Abenteuer Unter Wasser – Mike Nelson as a Film Star (translation)
5. Abenteuer Unter Wasser – Mike Nelson Strikes!! (translation)
This book does have some interesting differences from the previous 4 however.
First, the list of Sea Hunt books available from the publisher now shows all 5.
Also, the outside back cover, completely blank & white in all of the previous books, now has a full color advertisement for Dennis the Menace!!
What!! Maybe Dennis was a Sea Hunt fan.
I suppose the publisher realized that empty pages were potential money makers.
These neat, little books were printed by Western Printing in Racine, Wisconsin with authorization from ZIV United Artist. They were distributed by Gordon & Gotch of Melbourne, Australia.
These are soft-cover booklets about 8” x 5” with a color outside cover and black & white insides. There are usually 64 pages in each story. The stories are taken from the US Sea Hunt comics. The front cover is also from those comics – except for the last 2 which have an action painting instead of a photo of Mike Nelson.
The outside back cover is an advertisement for guitar lessons from the Harmony Guitar Club, 76 Clarence Street, Sydney, Australia.
Ads also appear on both inside covers. In Issue #1 the ad on both inside covers is by the publisher of these TV Picture Story Books and it ad features TV Stars – Gunsmoke, Cheyenne, Wyatt Earp, even Sgt. Bilko. The other inside front cover ads are for a stamp club, Seven Seas Stamps PTY. Ltd., of Dubbo, NSW in Australia.
On some issues, the inside back cover has ads from a seller of Gag Cards – business-sized cards with goofy gag saying on them e.g. “You Should Go Far – and I hope soon” or “Married Men – make the best husbands”.
The stories are all black & white line drawings depicting a Sea Hunt adventure. There are 2 Sea Hunt stories in each book separated by a shorter non-Sea Hunt story, very similar to the format of the Sea Hunt comics.
I have 7 of these pretty Sea Hunt books. They are #4,5,6,8,11,12 and one more that is not numbered. Every other book, has its number printed on the front cover, usually right beside the price.
Each book also has the pages numbered near the bottom and each page also has the letters “SH11”. The issue with no number on the front cover, has the page numbers and the letters “SH” but, there is no number after the “SH”. You can see this in my pictures. I have examined this booklet very carefully for any clue to it sequence number without success. Based on several clues, I believe it’s the 1st issue, “SH1”. The cover is from a Sea Hunt comic so it’s an early issue. It is the only issue with an ad for the publisher on the inside covers. It could be that they had not yet sold that advertising space. On every front cover that has a photo of Mike Nelson (not the last 2), the name Lloyd Bridges appears in type. Only on this odd issue is his name written like a signature. And the final clue is that the Copyright Date printed in the publisher’s information page is 1959. All of the rest are 1960, 1961, or 1962. So, I’ve decided that this issue is the first one.
What I DON’T know is if this odd issue is #1, #2 or #3. I’m not 100% certain that there are only 7 issues of this booklet. Am I missing several or did they use a random numbering system that included all of their books. That is, could Wyatt Earp have been published at the same time and become #2 or #7?
I’m working with my Australian Sea Hunt friends to find the answer.
In the meantime, they are really pretty, small books and definitely Sea Hunt memorabilia. These all rate an RR 4 – not impossible to find but certainly not easy.
Click on images to enlarge.
1. Australian Television Picture Stories! #1
2. Australian TV Picture Stories! #4
3. Australian TV Picture Stories! #5
4. Australian TV Picture Stories! #6
5. Australian TV Picture Stories! #8
6. Australian TV Picture Stories! #11
This issue has a painted action picture on the cover, NOT a photo of Mike Nelson.
Interestingly, the picture on the cover is related to an inside story. Even more interesting, the picture is not about the story in this book. The picture matches the Sea Hunt story called Shark Surf which is in book #1. No idea why.
7. Australian TV Picture Stories! #12
ATV Show Books – from the UK
These 3 hard covers books are another television promotional attempt – as they say, “Packed With Stories and Photographs of the Favorite Stars”.
Published by Associated TeleVision, a TV show producer, and printed by L.T.A Robinson of London, England, they featured stories about the most popular stars and shows on television. They have a price tag of 5 pounds so I’m guessing they were like today’s magazines that tell stories about the stars, except in the case of these books, the stories were nice!
I have just 3 of these. I have no idea how many were published but these three contain stories about Sea Hunt.
Click on titles to open/close details; click on images to enlarge.
1. ATV Show Book 1958
This book, as the others, is a hard cover full size (letter size) publication. The covers are in full color but the entire insides are black & white, even the inside covers. Indicating its popularity, Sea Hunt is in the first half of the book and the story about Mike Nelson and the show takes up 3 pages. There are several good pictures taken from the episodes and from the filming of the show.
2. ATV Television Star Book 1959
For some reason this one is called Star Book rather than Show Book but otherwise it is almost the same as the previous year. Even some of the pictures are the same. However, the story is good and probably does help to increase the viewership of Sea Hunt. That is after all, the intention of these books.
I notice that Sea Hunt is now listed closer to the beginning of all the shows (about 25 shows in total) but is down to 2 pages.
3. ATV Television Show Book 1960
Television Favorites – from the UK
Here’s a couple of very neat Sea Hunt books from the UK.
These are called ‘Television Favorites – Comic Annual’. Apparently these were published to promote the best TV shows of the season with a comic story about each chosen show. I don’t know how “annual” they were. I’ve only ever seen these two.
The books are hardcover, letter sized and in full color front to back.
They were published by World Distributors of Manchester and printed by Jarrold & Sons of Norwich. They were sold for 7 pounds 6 pence.
These two feature several of the popular western shows of the time – Roy Rogers, the Lone Ranger, Rin Tin Tin, Gunsmoke and others. And these two also feature Sea Hunt – the only non-western show in them.
They are very colorful and quite interesting. I don’t see them for sale often. RR 3
Click on images to enlarge.
Television Favorites 1958
The first book, published in 1958, just as Sea Hunt was getting known and popular, has a large picture of Mike Nelson on the front cover, another picture of Mike Nelson underwater on the back covert and the inside covers show Mike Nelson in his gear. It’s clear from the size and frequency of Mike Nelson that Sea Hunt was THE show to watch on TV at the time.
The first of the dozen stories inside is also Sea Hunt. It’s the familiar story called Test Dive in which two enterprising boys build a submarine but get trapped underwater in it. Of course, Mike saves them.
Television Favorites 1959
The second book, published in 1959, also has Mike Nelson on the front and back covers but he is the same size as all of the other stars. And the inside covers are not dedicated to Sea Hunt. The Sea Hunt story in this book, starting on page 17, is also a familiar one known as Valley of the Amazon where in Mike travels to the Amazon River looking for archeological treasure and gets into all kinds of trouble with the dangerous animals in the river and even more dangerous men on the surface. I was pretty worried for a while but Mike manages to get away safely!
I couldn’t think of a better name so we’ll call these “Fun Books”. I figure they were made just for fun, not considering the publisher who made them for profit, of course.
There are 3 books in this category, 2 of them from the UK. It seems that Sea Hunt was quite a hit in the UK as there are many items of Sea Hunt memorabilia from there that were not available in the US – books, jigsaw puzzles, board games, etc.
The one “fun” book from the US is a coloring book, obviously made for kids. The other 2 are for reading and are called a Comic Album and a Bumper Book. I’ve no idea what the heck a Bumper Book is but it’s pretty neat.
Sea Hunt Coloring Book – 1960
This is a fairly common item but finding one in nice condition is hard. Usually the previous owner marked up all the pages with crayons or colored pencil – how terrible to do that to a piece of Sea Hunt memorabilia!!
This book is letter-sized, soft cover with a color outside and black & white inside throughout. The outside cover is a painted picture of Mike in a famous pose – climbing out of the water in full Sea Hunt vintage gear – of course, it wasn’t vintage gear at that time! The back cover is identical without the text.
Each page is an action picture of Mike doing his thing whether it’s fighting off sharks, bad guys or helping pretty girls enjoy scuba diving. Mike does it all with equal aplomb!
The images here show a page that has been colored, pretty well too, and several that have not, including the last page with Mike on the Argonaut sailing off into the next adventure. RR 2
Sea Hunt Coloring Book – 1960 – Unused Cover
I mentioned that the Sea Hunt coloring book published by Saalfield in 1960 was fairly common but this is NOT!!
I have no idea where or when I got this but it is simply a cover for the coloring book that was printed and ready to be made into a book, but that never happened. So it is an unused, unfolded, full-color, printed cover for the coloring book. I doubt there are many of these around. Why would there be? In a normal printing house, once the printing run was finished and packed to go, all of this left over stuff would be trashed. I have more items, that is, left over, unused, printer’s material, like this as you’ll see when you look at my comic books but they have to be rare or at least very uncommon. RR 4
Sea Hunt UK Comic Album -1960 & 1961
This is an odd book, again from the UK. Basically it’s a soft cover comic book, same letter-size, but it contains 15 of the original comic book stories, all published in one book.
It’s kinda’ like a comic album. Maybe the British aren’t so weird after all!
The book has a total of 96 pages within and, besides the stories from the comic book series, it includes picture stories or text stories between the comic stories.
That is, between each of the Sea Hunt stories, there is a page or two of picture pages, usually about life under the sea, or text stories, also about some aspect of marine life. There’s a picture story for example about Underwater Camouflage (how fish hide from predators) and one called The Red Tide (about that interesting marine phenomena). There is also a text story, all print, no pictures, called Deep Divers which is about the pearl divers of the South Pacific who free dive to incredible depths.
Sea Hunt UK TV Bumper Book – 1958, 1959 & 1960
If you thought I had trouble with a comic album, consider my confusion when I saw a Bumper Book! What the heck is a Bumper Book!!!
Well, it appears to be a hard cover version of the soft cover comic album. Again from the UK, it was published New Town Printers LTD and printed by Charles Birchall & Sons Ltd, the same printers of the comic album. It has 125 pages.
The rest of the book, cover to cover, is black & white. The inside covers have the 2 page same line drawing and it’s quite exciting – Mike Nelson fighting off a giant shark to save one of his dive buddies, all while being filmed. It’s a neat combination of a Mike Nelson adventure PLUS the filming of a Mike Nelson adventure.
The comic stories inside, taken right from the US DELL comic series, are separated by one or two pages of text or picture stories (one text story, a Sea Hunt adventure, is 9 pages long!) about the undersea world, much like the Sea Hunt Comic Album. The stories are all different however so there was pressure I’m sure, by kids in the 60’s to get this book as well.
Each page of the TV Bumper Book has ‘Sea Hunt TV Bumper Book’ printed along the top as though repeating it made it more understandable – nope! RR 4