Five years after Western Publishing brought out my first book in 1969, my editor got in touch to say they had reached an agreement to publish the first ever picture book starring none other than the THE PINK PANTHER cartoon, made famous by pulling the credits across the screen to open the wonderful, zany movie released in 1963 starring PETER SELLERS as a bumbling French detective, JACQUES CLOUSEAU. HENRY MANCINI’s genius created a theme song for the panther that made everyone smile from the opening bars. Would I like to write the first picture about The Pink Panther? Well let me think about it. I did have a question though. Could I let the panther talk? Give him words? Friends? Otherwise, uh, how could I make up a story? Answer came back. yes. I was in business. PINK PANTHER IN THE HAUNTED HOUSE was issued the followed year, 1975.
No sooner was the first PP book off my desk when I was asked to write a second one. The first was for Golden Books. The second would appear as a Tell-A-Tale book. Back to work. THE PINK PANTHER RIDES AGAIN came out in 1976.
Another letter. How about a BIG LITTLE BOOK? What’s that? You now, the pages are small. The flip the edges to see action in the upper right corner? How many of those “little” pages? Uh, 250. I calculated it would take roughly 10,000 words to write a BIG LITTLE BOOK. Sigh.
THE PINK PANTHER ADVENTURES IN Z-LAND somehow managed to make it out in 1976. By then I’d had my fill of that fun-loving panther. I didn’t care how adored he was, I was weary of his company. I was asked if I would consider doing a fourth story. As politely as possible, I took a pass.