Welcome to the Bayport Times.
In this issue: Lots of news about your favorite detective duo, an article about Digest 185 "Wreck And Roll" and another one about "The Secret Of The Caves".
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Hidden Mountain (#186) - Grade: C
The Hardy Boys receive a mysterious short-wave message from a missing friend and are off to northwest Canada to locate him and his missing family. Along the way they encounter 2 phony FBI agents who are also on the trail of the missing family. There is plenty of action and many thrills-and-chills as Frank and Joe make their way to the mysterious Hidden Mountain. Not a bad story but not one of the better ones either. The action seems a little disjointed at times, as if part of the manuscript was missing.
Wreck And Roll (#185) - Grade: C-
The Dangerous Transmission (#184) - Grade: B+
Warehouse Rumble - Grade: B
The Secret Of The Soldier's Gold (#182) - Grade: A-
Double Jeopardy (#181) - Grade: A-
There's big news in the world of Hardy Boys collecting this year!
A new series of Hardy Boys (and Nancy Drew) comic book and graphic novels is scheduled for release late this fall by NBM under the Papercutz imprint.
This is the publisher's first explicit foray into the youth market for the publisher, long known for publishing sophisticated adaptations and original graphic novels, European adaptations, and even pornography with an artsy edge. For example, NBM is the home to works by Miguelanxo Prado and Ted Rall, adaptations by P. Craig Russell and Will Eisner, translations of European material such as A Jew in Communist Prague and France's graphic novels adapting Marcel Proust's Remembrance of Things Past, and translations of celebrated Italian illustrator Milo Manara. NBM represents a more European attitude towards comics publishing, and is considered by most comics scholars to represent a sophisticated alternative to both the super-hero dominated American "mainstream" (e.g. DC and Marvel) and the sometimes insular world of American independent comics (e.g. Fantagraphics).
The Hardy Boys will be written by Scott Lobdell with art by Lea Hernandez. The series will be exclusive to the direct market, a strange move for a property with such mass-market appeal. The first issue is scheduled for November. A full-color, manga-sized trade paperback, running 96 pages at $7.95, is scheduled for February.
THE HARDY BOYS #1 Scott Lobdell, writer; Lea Hernandez, art; Jim Salicrup, editor. "The Ocean of Osyria -- Part One." The premiere publication from Papercutz, proudly presenting the action-packed all-new adventures of Franklin W. Dixon's the Hardy Boys. In a tale torn from today's headlines, Frank and Joe Hardy must recover the Ocean of Osyria, an art treasure recently stolen from a famous Mid-Eastern Art Museum. It's the Hardy Boys as you've never seen 'em before, written by Scott (X-MEN, ALPHA FLIGHT) Lobdell, illustrated by Lea (RUMBLE GIRLS) Hernandez. 28 pages of story! Monthly comic book, 32pp. full color, $2.95.
Bob Nelson reports: I also saw the synopsis for the second comic book in the Hardy Boys Ocean of Osyria story. Part 2 comes out in December. According to the synopsis, The Gray Man is in the story. He was the head of the Network in the Casefiles series. It seems strange that he is in the story, since Iola Morton is also in the story, yet according to the Casefiles storys, the Hardys met The Gray Man at Iola's funeral. Interestingly, since it was reported that the comic book series will bridge the gap from the classic Hardy Boys series to the new Hardy Boys (Boy Investigators?) series, I wonder if The Gray Man will be featured in the new books. Only time will tell....
Leslie McFarlane Biography
The Franklin W. Dixon Truths, #185: There’s A Chet Shaped Hole In All Of Us.
By Matt Waln
In his 185th work, Wreck and Roll, the prodigious author and mentor Mr. Dixon lays out a tale of high energy, corruption, and competition while relating a truth that so skillfully parallels American history of the last 40 years that, certainly, the reader would do well to memorize and practice daily.
Let us make a very important point that will be expounded upon later in our work. The canonical series has ended and we are well into the apocryphal writings Mr. Dixon turned out later in life. I will not delve into the life events that changed Mr. Dixon so thoroughly that his writings no longer became acceptable to the governing Council of Hardy Matters, but it must be stressed ever so strongly that the apocrypha is considered supplemental writing and not heretical to the original blue spines. It is Mr. Dixon, one and the same, more seasoned, a bit grayer, and needing to explain his secrets of aging well, but his Truths, while not carrying the full weight of Council accepted inspiration, still do not disappoint or lose their luster, and should remain in our minds a truth nonetheless.
We begin the tale with the boys lamenting the fact the Chet is not with them. Notice that throughout the entire the week they do not mention missing Tony or Biff, even when outnumbered in a parking garage brawl, but they miss Chet’s aptitude and guidance right away. Indeed, Mr. Dixon lets the reader understand that it is fully Chet’s moral intuition that has let him master the public school curriculum of Bayport. With his superior abilities in million man math and revisionist history, the NEA member teachers saw nothing more for him to learn in the classroom so they offered him school credit to work on his grandparent’s farm. It is, unfortunately, not explained why Chet and Iola’s parents were forced to give the farm to the senior generation and move to the city, but we can only assume it must be the moral decay of society manifesting itself as peer pressure for the children to live in the “cool” city and not the lame old farm. This same moral decay has inculcated the Hardys as we are introduced to their “girlfriends” and not their favorite dates. Soon Frank will put his arm around Callie’s waist while on their way to some midnight drinking on a school night! Now, we fully understand that this particular school system, replete with NEA member teachers, was wholly incapable of teaching them anything, but the boys used to at least save the world only when school was cancelled. It must also be understood that at this point in the book there has been no parental involvement. Were Chet around, you can bet they’d be home with Aunt Gertrude baking for them and getting grounded in the moral fiber of life that comes with a close relationship with moral parents. Alas, he is not around and his chums quickly degenerate into roadies.
The story of the band and their slow rise to pre-eminence has many pitfalls, few pratfalls, and a bouncer without much to do named Sullivan who used to be the editor of The New Republic and now is a blogger. No doubt his liberal spin on all things has tainted the band and their number one fan, the Hardy’s friend Phil. Not coincidentally, Sullivan has written didactic diatribes praising the Supreme Court’s 1963 decision to remove prayer from the school system. Notice, dear reader, the timing. As the blue spine cannon is completed we shortly are treated to the courts overstepping their constitutional boundaries and imposing a ban on prayer in our schools. Soon the Hardy Boys series begins it’s slow decline into immorality as the nation does the same. This immorality takes it’s toll on the SAT average of the nation as well, dropping every year since, much like the character of Frank and Joe. Indeed, this slouch towards Gomorrah apparently cost them their relationship with the most powerful law enforcement officer in Bayport, Chief Collig, as they have to have “one of our police contacts” run the license plate number of a man suspiciously tailing the band members to yet another nightclub. Oh Chet - wherefore art thou?
They are trying to figure out if this man tailing the band is also the suspect for the bands many dangerous mishaps when Joe tells Frank he’ll call him on Phil’s cell phone. Why do they have to share a cell phone when they own a boat, motorcycles, and a plane? When they leave the nightclub and head back the band’s apartment complex, driving fast becomes the topic of conversation and Phil remarks, “Let’s hope that Vette Smash doesn’t become a prophecy as well as a band name.” Look, Phil, there’s no prophecy in the apocrypha, moron, and were there to be any prophetic band names in this book, Julie would be playing bass for “Chet’s not here to stop us from turning into degenerates.”
After more late night carousing and before yet another mishap-laden concert, the girls leave for the farm. Now the Hardys realize that all this week they never even called their friend so they leave the girls with a simple “say hi for me.” Good interpersonal skills there, guys. They arrive at the concert and meet the leader of a “rival” band who calls them “Vette Smash hangers-on.” We must assume that this guy is roughly the same age as the Hardys and also a band member, but somewhere he managed to pick up proper grammar. After this concert the manager for this rival band offers Vette Smash the opportunity to sign with him, saying that he’d like to manage two talented bands. “But if we signed with you, you’d still only have one.” is the reply. The insertion of “still” implies that he is already in the position of managing a great band and the new one is the one with the unknown adjective. Had she meant to say that Vette Smash was the only great band of the two, she’d drop the word still. Nice comeback there, Jackie.
So a brawl ensues shortly after that exchange and all of the pugilists are tossed in the slammer. On page 120, four fifths of the way through the book, they finally have a conversation with dad. When they bothered to go home and eat dinner with the family, before the prayer ban and before Chet’s absence, they never went to jail.
The next day Phil offers them a picnic to chaperone him and his girlfriend. It is interesting to us that the Hardys seem to have gotten stupider in the short time since Chet left. They used to own motorcycles, and we don’t know what happened to them, but they are still in the same grade so presumably the aforementioned ownership was no more than a few months ago and it seems that they forgot how to ride them because Phil has to check “to make sure the brothers knew how to handle the equipment.”
One more concert mishap was all it took for the Hardys to catch their man - and still no Chet
Wreck And Roll (#185) is available from Amazon.com.
by Brian Porick
If there is an overarching treatise to my previous fourteen essays on the literary stylings of Franklin W. Dixon, it would probably be that Dixon is a master of bringing profundity out of surface-level simplicity. How many times have we in the Wheaton Chapter of the Hardy Boys Literary Society exited our meetings astounded at the deep truths fellow members have pulled out of Dixonian texts? As I delved into the seventh book in Dixon's series, The Secret of the Caves, I noticed a curious inclusion of no less than five scenes which related to the topic of speeding over the course of the work. Of course compared to such topics as ethical re-formation, fantastic normacly, and Christ imagery, the topic of speeding seemed to fall a bit flat. Early theories about the inclusion of these scenes included the thought that most of Dixon's readers would be someday haste-hungry teenage drivers themselves, and perhaps this is Dixon's equivalent to a simple "just say no to drugs" campaign. Certainly, for Dixon's younger audience, the message may be just that. However, my previous experiences with this author have taught me that something this pervasive in one of his novels must have more to it than meets the eye. This essay, then, is the examination of those scenes in an attempt to discover these deeper Dixonian truths.
Let's have a look at speeding scene one. The Hardy boys are at the college town of Kentworthy investigating the disappearance of Morgan Todd, a professor at Kentworthy college. Their father, Fenton Hardy, instructs them to come home immediately due to an urgent matter. Frank and Joe hop in their car and head home. Dixon tells us, "Joe held the speedometer needle at the maximum speed allowed, and the countryside flashed by. When they hit the turnpike, Frank spelled his brother at the wheel. Now with greater speed, the miles melted past" (Dixon 50). Clearly, there is no ethical problem with Joe driving exactly the speed limit, but when Frank takes over, we are told that he drives with greater speed than Joe. We are told that Joe is driving at "the maximum speed allowed", so it logically follows that Frank, then, is driving faster than the greatest speed allowed. Strangely, Dixon does not display any consequences for Frank and Joe's lawbreaking. In fact, we are left with nothing more than this comment from Frank: "She purrs like a kitten. . . . A great car, Joe" (Dixon 50). Not only do the Hardys participate in this lawbreaking, they revel in it! Is Dixon suggesting a hierarchy of laws and that perhaps there are circumstances when one may be broken for a higher cause?
Our second scene occurs shortly after the Hardys and Chet Morton have taken a small detour to get Chet's metal detector while Callie Shaw, Iola Morton, and Biff Hooper have headed home in Biff's jalopy. Once the detector has been secured, Chet encourages driver Frank to speed: "'Come on, Frank,' he urged. 'Let's see if we can catch up to my jalopy'" (Dixon 134). Frank replies, "'Relax. . . . I'm not going to break any speed limits'" and then Joe adds, "'You can say that again. . . . We've had enough hard luck for one day'" (Dixon 134). Certainly Frank's hesitation to speed is a valiant one, but what of Joe's remark? He equates being ticketed for speeding not with an appropriate repurcussion for unlawful action, but with simple bad luck. Again, this is not exactly the straight-laced, goody two-shoes response one would expect from the clean-cut detectives.
Scene three continues to blur the ethical lines for our protagonists. In this case, the Hardys' car has been bombed out by the story's crooks (too long of an explanation to go into detail here), and they report the incident to the local police. Dixon mentions that one cop gives Frank and Joe a ride home: "Then, at top speed, Trooper Starr drove the boys . . . to their front door" (Dixon 137). Considering that Trooper Starr is a cop, we understand that he's got some leeway to speed if he deems a situation to be an emergency that calls for his haste. It is safe to assume that is likely the case in this scene. However, one must ask what Trooper Starr's actions are encouraging in the impressionable Hardy boys. After all, who do the Hardys look up to more in their adventures than the officials of law enforcement? It seems, then, that there is the possibility that Frank and Joe are setting themselves up to get in trouble at the hands of the very people their law-breaking actions are aping.
The fourth and fifth scenes see Frank and Joe's speeding tendencies transported from land to sea, where there are no speed limits per se, and hence safety, not following the low, is of primary concern. In scene four, the Hardys' boathouse has just been set afire by the story's antagonists, and Joe drives full-throttle in Biff Hooper's boat to try and stop the flames with the on-board fire extinguisher. Joe finally reaches a high enough speed that Frank warns, "'Joe! Slow down'" (Dixon 150). Joe replies, "'Why? Our boathouse will burn up.'" Frank counteroffers, "'The fire department will take care of it.'" It is here that Frank's extra year of seniority over Joe comes to play. He recognizes that haste in an attempt to play the hero is not worth the risk of danger, especially when more qualified individuals are already handling the problem.
The last speeding scene Dixon presents his readers with in The Secret of the Caves has Frank and Joe doing long-distance surveillance from the ocean on Commander E. K. T. Wilson, the book's antagonist, in his shoreline hideout. The weather is taking a turn for the worse, and the Hardys' fisherman escort, Johnny Donachie, strongly suggests they head back. Frank and Joe urge him to stay out at sea a bit longer, and after convincing him, the storm begins to pick up. Mr. Donachie finally tells the boys they have no choice but to return to shore, and the ship chugs back toward land. Joe begins to see the error of he and Frank's previous urging: "'Can't you give her more gas, Johnny?' . . . They were halfway to their destination when a huge wave crashed upon the deck, nearly washing Joe into the sea" (Dixon 158). In this instance, Joe assumes that speed can save him from his poor decision-making, but his lack of judgment almost gets him killed.
What then can be pulled from these five scenarios of speeding in The Secret of the Caves? It sure seems like Dixon's point is not to exclusively warn readers of the dangers of speeding, as Frank and Joe get away with their penchant for haste too often, and Dixon would likelier have presented the teen sleuths as consistently doing the right thing as an example to impressionable Hardy Boys fans. However, perhaps it is precisely this stigma that Frank and Joe always do the right thing and use good judgment which Dixon is trying to shed. After all, aren't somewhat flawed protagonists always more interesting than perfect characters who act as nothing more than a deus ex machina device for plot problems? I would argue that it is precisely this flawed believability that Dixon is trying to achieve with this series of speeding scenes. Frank and Joe are complex, realistic characters. They don't always tear down the roads unscathed, nor do they always decide it is unwise to do so. Perhaps, then, this is the at the heart of why the reader keeps coming back to these Hardy Boys novels. Although there is a sense in which things will ultimately turn out for the best, the reader never really knows whether Frank and Joe's course of action is the best, safest way. There's a certain amount of excitement and risk in not knowing the fates of the characters the reader loves, and the reader is thereby willing to return again and again to learn of new twists, flaws, triumphs, and adventures--all because Frank and Joe just might screw up big time the next time they make a choice. These seemingly silly speeding scenes then typify Dixon's skill for writing compelling literary characters. How can we respond but to acknowledge, "Brilliant, Franklin W. Dixon. Brilliant"?
Some of the members of Hardy Boys Literary Society are shown here is session at The Olde North Pancake House.
The members are responsible for many of the articles appearing here in The Bayport Times.
From the left: Matt Waln and one year old son Christopher, Brandon Booth, Brian Porick--reading his essay, Karl Gunther, and Ken Maage.
You must get millions of thank you emails a day for your website! I just had to send in my own as this series helped me through a difficult time. As a shy 12 year old (who was madly in love with Shaun Cassidy) these shows were a God send. I can remember literally writing down every word they said in my journals -our family not having a vcr at the time, and taping the music to the show. I had at least 5 of the shows on tape.
Unfortunately in our move to California several boxes were lost - included among those were my journals and tapes from the show. Thank goodness I had my Shaun Cassidy scrapbook in my suitcase:) so I had not heard the theme from the show in many years. I found your website this morning though Google. I instantly went back to that year in New Hampshire when I clicked on the theme!!! I can't thank you enough for having that on the site. You have done an amazing job with all the historical references on the books and tv shows.
So thank you for a trip down memory lane this morning. Very good job!! - Rebecca Kirkland
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