Welcome to the Bayport Times.
This issue featuring another look at my favorite book in the series, The House On The Cliff, a look at The Secret Of Wildcat Swamp, new collectible discoveries, letters, the Mike Humbert Department and more!
Missing since the case of the Disappearing Floor, the body of Mr. Tanwick was discovered in a vacant lot behind Bayport Police Department Headquarters by Frank and Joe Hardy and an unidentified female companion, thus putting an end an exhaustive 62 year manhunt.
Questioned at the scene, Detective Oscar Smuff of the Bayport PD stated "Yep, it's him all right unless, of course, it isn't."
"We would have found him eventually anyway," Patrolman Con Riley noted "even without those pesky kids. It's pretty hot and once the wind shifted toward the station house, we'd have caught a whiff of him."
"We suspect foul play," stated Chief Ezra Collig "since no wallet or watch was found at the scene."
"I'm glad this case is finally over." Frank Hardy remarked "Not finding Tanwick was the only black mark on our career as teenage crime fighters for over 60 years."
"I'd like to go see Iola now" commented Joe Hardy "but I don't know if I'm the Casefile Joe or the other one. It's all very confusing."
"That Tanwick fellow certainly has a lot of gall! My nephews traveled around the world and into outerspace looking for him and now he turns up dead!" raved Gertrude Hardy, noted paranoid, old maid and aunt of Frank and Joe, as she was being led away to the Bayport Home For The Incurably Annoying. "Of all the nerve! Some people have no consideration. In my day, we'd have had him horsewhipped! Here my nephews spend 60 years trying to return his wallet to him and now this is the thanks they get. I told them they should have just kept the damn wallet in the first place but no, they thought they knew better. Those young whippersnappers could learn a thing or two from their old aunt but do they listen? No! Serves 'em right anyway, the brats! If only their mother wasn't such a spineless jellyfish, maybe those kids would have more respect for women. Why their father is never around, I'll never know. Always gallavanting off to solve crimes all over the place. Better he should stay home but will he listen? No! They're all against me anyway."
The Bayport Times is proud to bring you this exclusive artist's rendering of the dramatic moment of discovery!
The End Of The Hardy Boys Redux
A July 29 article in the NY Times by David Kirkpatrick (carried by the wire services to other papers around the country) stated that while Simon & Schuster has plans to overhaul the series, they don't plan to end it.
Editor Anne Greenberg stated "We are always evaluating how to keep the series fresh and relevant." It's too early to know what changes may be coming, she said, but ending the series "has never come up."
In major league baseball, the sure kiss of death for any manager is when the owner or general manager tells the press that they have no plans to replace him. 99 times out of 100, the manager is gone within a week! Let's hope the same won't apply to our heroes.
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Photographs used by Rudy Nappi for the cover art of The Secret of The Old Mill
From the collection of Tony Carpentieri.
Note: Photos have edited for use here.
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Number 2 in the original series
Original: 1927 - Text by Leslie McFarlane
Revised: 1959 - Text by Harriet S. Adams (allegedly)
Reviewed by Stephen J. Servello
It was with great excitement that I started to read The House on the Cliff. It had been about 10 years since I read the first 89 books (original text only) in the series. During the interim, the only solo Hardy's I have read were: Screeching Owl, Secret Tunnel, Haunted Fort, Flickering Torch, and Spiral Bridge. These are among my favorites. But this time I opted for the revised edition of House on the Cliff. It was after all, this version that I originally read, circa 1964. I decided to read the original text book immediately after the revised and compare the two. Nothing in depth here. Not a scholarly thesis. Simply my impressions of the two books and a few observations I found pertinent (to me at least). I'll start with the 1959 edition of The House on the Cliff.
Number 31 in the original series
Original: 1952 - Text by William Hallstead, Harriet Adams, William Dougherty
Revised: 1969 - Text by Priscilla Baker-Carr
Reviewed by Scott Remichen
This review is based on the original version published in 1952 but it should be noted that the plot of the revision closely follows that of the original. It is at times difficult to compare the very early volumes with the latter volumes but I regard this story as one of the best overall in the canon. The opening two chapters might be regarded as a bit weak compared to other volumes in the set, since a mystery is dumped into the brothers laps when Cap Bailey pays them a visit at their home.
After laying down a framework for the mystery before them, the brothers hope to gain some information by going to the local prison to see some unsavory men who are mixed up in the affair. We are introduced to three memorable criminals: Willie The Penman, Jessie Turk and Gerald Flint. Willie and Flint are already on the loose, Turk is in jail but stages a prison break by the end of chapter 1.
The next several chapters are very eventful. The brothers make their way out of Bayport, heading west with the criminals hard on their heels. By Chapter 5, the brothers and Cap Bailey are in Wildcat Swamp, on horseback camping in the desert and the woods near and in the swamp. Immediately they are attacked by "an enormous wildcat", letting the reader know that the beasts are forever lurking through the swamp. Strangely though, no more appear throughout the remainder of the book. From this point onward the book is suspenseful, well written and adventurous with a fairly good mystery that is not solved by dumb luck.
The trio spend the next few chapters dodging perils in the swamp while digging for fossils, which is the underlying plot throughout the book. By chapter 9 they are approached by Snake, Snide and Willie, who identify themselves as Forest Rangers and order them out of the swamp in a memorable scene. Later that night the boys eavesdrop on the Rangers in conversation, only to be shot at. The trio stand their ground and refuse to leave the swamp. These middle chapters are fascinating and one experiences that wish fulfillment that the Hardy Boys series is famous for, as we can envision ourselves camping by fire in just such a swamp.
While further digging for fossils in the swamp, round about chapter 10, Frank finds a sign ending in "ERS", which fits a sign found in earlier chapters that read "Here lie the Bodies of Twenty Wildcat" Deducing that it was wildcatters, not wildcats, that were buried there suddenly leads to the speculation that oil lies on the property. This detective work blends in beautifully with the title of the book. The Boys visit Mrs. Sanders, the owner of the property, to alert her of their findings then return to their camp.
Chet arrives quite unexpectedly and he remains with Cap at the camp while Frank and Joe are away alerting Sanders. Here the book takes its greatest turn as the Rangers, in yet another memorable and suspenseful scene right out of a movie, overwhelm Cap and Chet in a cave and tie them up until they are rescued at the end of the book. Frank and Joe are ambushed on route to Sanders property, but escape a couple chapters later.
This book is like something out of 1881 rather than 1952. They hop a freight train, only to have it wrecked and roll off the tracks, hijacked by the Flint's gang. They eavesdrop on a campfire of thieves and eventually learn enough to put away the gang. All that remains is to capture them, which is done over the remaining chapters.
This book contains non-stop action and appeals to one's sense of adventure. It is similar to The Twisted Claw, in that it belongs to another era. Often underrated, Wildcat Swamp should be regarded as one of the best books of the series, certainly among the volumes from The Mark on The Door onward.
I'm going to take this opportunity to denounce the author of the July 29 NY Times Hardy Boys article, David Kirkpatrick, as a craven, ungrateful scoundrel.
Over the course of several e-mails, I provided him with detailed information about the series and collectibles but, when the article finally reached print, the dastardly villian didn't give me any credit, not even a mention!
After the article was printed, the lily-livered wretch wouldn't even return my e-mails despite the fact he had pumped me dry for information. Perhaps his coward's heart couldn't bear to face someone he screwed so royally!
Furthermore, despite being given the correct information, he made several factual errors in the article, not to mention some very shaky suppositions.
Finally, the overall tone of the article was very negative and, at times, downright insulting.
Let's hope that Mr. Kirkpatrick finds himself in a dank cave somewhere without Frank and Joe to help him!
Here's Kirkpatrick's basic questions and a portion of the information I sent to him:
Basically, what I am interested in is your perspective, as apparently the country's foremost expert on the Hardy Boys, on the question of how the depiction of the Hardy Boys has changed over time. If you ever read the newer editions, how do they differ from the originals? And the sanitized originals? What do you think of the current incarnation of the Hardy brothers? Do you have any thoughts on what has kept people reading the Hardy Boys (unlike so many other serials)?" Alternatively, do you have any ideas about how the market for the original hardy boys books or other memorabilia has fared over time?
The Hardy Boys series can be divided into several different "eras". For the first twenty years or so, with a few notable exceptions from 1938-42, the books were written by one author, Leslie McFarlane. McFarlane is universally acknowledged as the best "Franklin W. Dixon". In these stories, Frank & Joe were depicted as more-or-less normal teenagers (without the normal teenage randiness of course) who attended high school and hung around with the same "gang". These early stories portrayed the difficulties they had coordinating their crime solving with their responsibilities at home and at school. The crimes generally took place in or around the boy's hometown of Bayport and usually involved theft or smuggling with an occasional counterfeiter or missing person tossed in.
After that, several different writers, most notably Jim Lawrence and Stratemeyer Syndicate partner, Andrew Svenson, wrote the bulk of the remainder stories in the original canon (the first 58 volumes + the 38 revisions) with varying degrees of success.
In the 50's, the Boys traveled around the country solving crimes that, quite frankly, were starting to get either repetitious or absurd.
By the mid-60's, the series reached it's nadir in the so-called "travelogue" era with the Boys now involved in completely unrealistic stories involving breaking up international espionage rings and traveling all over the world solving crime. The Nancy Drew series also fell victim to this phenomena at this time. A few of the stories are absolutely inane and most of the rest are mediocre with a couple of exceptions. Even the best of these later stories can't hold a candle to first 10 original volumes.
In the meantime, the Syndicate was busy "revising" the first 38 titles. These revisions ranged from a mild editing to a complete rewrite. Stereotypical depictions of minorities and other ethnic groups were eliminated for the most part. The leisurely evocative prose that has made the originals so wildly popular was replaced by frenzied action, often times for no apparent purpose. As I stated on my web site, I consider this to have been an act of literary vandalism. Fathers, fondly remembering their experiences with the Hardys as boys, were tricked into buying the books - duped by titles that now contained completely different - and inferior - stories.
Grosset & Dunlap lost the rights to publish any new stories to Simon & Schuster in 1979. After existing manuscripts were used up, the stories became even shorter. The plots became even more ludicrous until in 1985, the Hardy Boys were on the space shuttle! At this point the series underwent a hiatus of more than a year until 1987, when the Hardy Boys came roaring back not only in a continuation of the Digests but in a brand new series of more mature stories, the Casefiles.
The Casefiles (127 volumes, 1987-1998) launched the Boys into the middle of international espionage and terrorism. The series started off by having Joe's longtime girlfriend, Iola Morton, being blown to bits by a terrorist bomb. From then on it was the Boys traveling around USA and the world solving crimes, often in connection with a US intelligence agency. Although the idea of having teenagers battling international terrorism does seem far-fetched, the stories are generally well written and exciting. It was during this period that there were two Hardy "worlds", the Casefiles, in which Iola was dead and the Digests, in which she wasn't.
In 1992, the Hardys joined up with Stratemeyer Syndicate staple, Tom Swift, in the 2 volume Ultra Thriller series. The series was geared more toward the sci-fi Swift series than the Hardys and quickly disappeared.
Meanwhile, the Digests resumed publication and, with a few exceptions, continue to be released at a rate of 6 per year. The plots were toned down a notch and, mercifully, we no longer found the Hardys flying around in outer space. The writing of the Digests varies wildly from abysmal to pretty good with no discernable pattern. There has been a recent trend toward making the stories a bit more adult. In fact, several manuscripts originally penned for the Casefiles series have turned up, with minor modifications, as Digests. In 2000, Simon & Schuster introduced a new cover art style for the Digests in which neither Frank nor Joe is depicted. What the logic behind this is, I don't know but I don't like the new style.
In 1997, a spin-off series for younger readers, The Clues Brothers (17 volumes, 1997-2000), was introduced. The stories recounted the adventures of a young Frank and Joe. The stories were short and simple, the print was large and the books were well illustrated. Unfortunately they were also examples of the worst writing and editing in publishing history. In fact, I find it almost impossible to believe that any editor ever so much as cast an eye at any of these stories. It appears they went straight from some high school student's word processor to the printers. Reports to me from people with young boys tell me that the kids avoided the books like the plague. Finally, poor sales killed this series, however, a similar series for Nancy Drew fans (Notebooks) is still thriving.
What has kept the Hardy Boys series going? Name recognition, nostalgia and inertia are all factors. Parents feel safe in letting their children read this time-tested series. Young readers can still experience the vicarious thrills the Hardys always supplied. I know that when I read the original stories as a boy, I imagined that I, too, could solve mysteries just like the Hardy Boys did, if only one would have come my way! Old fans like myself, and there are more than you'd think, still enjoy reading yet one more story of our boyhood heroes. Most of the stories are not tied to one particular place in time and so can be read by succeeding generations with no loss of interest. Unfortunately, I've been told by more than one youngster that the Hardy Boys are considered pretty much old hat. My local library reports that the volumes they have see little, if any, circulation. Whether this is due to a lack of interest in reading in general or some animus for the Boys, I'll leave for greater minds to ponder. A poll conducted by Newsday in their Kidsday section found the Hardy Boys trailing even The Baby-Sitters Club in popularity!
The advent of online book stores and especially eBay have had a profound impact on the prices of Hardy Boys books and memorabilia. After an initial shakeout when prices varied wildly, savvy collectors began to realize exactly which items were rare and which were not. Very early editions (pre 1932) in dustjackets are steadily increasing in value. Collectors are also avidly seeking the earlier (pre-WWII) stories using the original artwork and the prices for these continue to appreciate. First editions for any title, first editions for new cover art and first editions for revised text are always in demand. For the most part, books missing dustjackets lose about 80% to 90% of their value. The tan tweed books that so many baby boomers are familiar with are virtually worthless without a dust jacket. There is a market for the picture cover (PC) books which contain the original, unrevised stories. Some of these are very rare and are in high demand. Common PC editions can't even be given away, for the most part, unless in outstanding condition.
In general, only advanced Hardy Boys collectors are interested in the memorabilia. Virtually all Hardy Boys memorabilia is tied in to one of the TV shows. In the 50's, Disney's Mickey Mouse Club featured a couple of Hardy serials. These generated generated the first of the Hardy collectibles including some promotional items that are extremely rare. In the 60's, there was an animated series that generated more items including a model of the van made by Corgi Toys that is pricey due to a cross-over with Corgi Toys collectors. The motherload was struck with the release of the 70's Shaun cassidy/Parker Stevenson Hardy Boys series. Countless items were licensed and, due to the cross-over for Shaun Cassidy fans (yes, he still has some), some are hard to come by. The key in Hardy collectibles, like all others I suppose, is condition. Since the items were aimed at a juvenile market, there was a high rate of attrition. Those items that survived tend to have seen heavy use. Pristine examples of virtually any collectible will find a ready market and will usually spark active bidding on eBay. There are a few Hardy collectibles that also feature Nancy Drew. Nancy's admirers are fanatical and these items are quite pricey as a result.
From: Mark Adler
Your Hardy Boys site is fantastic! I have it bookmarked and have visited it several times in order to be able to fully absorb the mountains of information it contains. Keep up the good work.
From: Michael Flood
From: Donald Kraker
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