Thursday, May 30, 2013

The Hitchcock Project: Henry Slesar Part Four-"The Right Kind of House" [3.23]

by Jack Seabrook

"The Right Kind of a House" is a good example of a tightly written short story that was adapted for television  in classic style. Slesar's story begins on a slow day at Aaron Hacker's real estate office, when a car with a New York license plate pulls up and a fat man in a colorless suit walks in. His name is Waterbury and he is interested in a house for sale on the edge of town. The eight-room colonial is listed for $75,000 but is worth $10,000 at most. Old Sadie Grimes lives there and it has been for sale since her son died, five years before. The house is not well-maintained, but Hacker thinks that the high price tag means that she does not really want to sell.

Waterbury drives out to Sadie's house, where she welcomes him and offers him lemonade. Sadie tells Waterbury that she is not willing to lower her price and he capitulates, agreeing to it with minimal argument. Serving the lemonade, she tells him the history of the house and of her family, including her late son Michael, who grew up without a father and left home. He came back after nine years with a small suitcase, agitated because he was in trouble. A man came the next night, argued with him, and shot and killed him. Sadie learned that her son and the other man had stolen thousands of dollars and that her son had run off with the money, eventually going home and hiding it in the family house. Sadie knew that his killer would return one day for the money and she knew that he would be "willing to pay too much for an old lady's house." Waterbury, his "head rolling loosely on his shoulders," comments that the "lemonade is bitter," and we realize that Sadie has poisoned her son's killer.

The ending of "The Right Kind of a House" is a classic twist, where the payoff is so subtle that it takes a moment to dawn on the reader just what has happened. Slesar's tale was published in the February 1957 issue of Michael Shayne Mystery Magazine.

The Right Kind of House
Robert C. Dennis adapted Slesar's story for Alfred Hitchcock Presents as "The Right Kind of House" (dropping the indefinite article) and the show was broadcast on March 9, 1958. Dennis's script uses the classic technique for taking a story off of the page and putting it onto the screen; he shows rather than tells and uses flashbacks to portray events that are only referred to in the source. The show begins with shots of Waterbury driving into Ivy Corners and stopping to admire Sadie's house, noting the name on the For Sale sign. The script then follows the story closely, though it is notable that Dennis solves a slight technical problem that existed in Slesar's original. The price of the house is reduced to $50,000, which is still five times what it is worth. This will be important later in the episode.

There is an interesting shot (Don Taylor directed the show) when Waterbury first enters Sadie's house: the camera starts way back to show the whole living room and very slowly dollies in until it frames Waterbury and Sadie in a two-shot as they sit down to talk.

Dollying in slowly
As Sadie tells Waterbury the story of the house, we see her son Michael in a series of flashbacks. The script expands the story's timeline so that, rather than coming home and getting shot the next night, Michael comes home, stays for the summer, and is killed later on. Director Taylor's shot choices and camera movements are above average and serve to tell the story quickly and effectively. As Sadie, Jeanette Nolan gives an outstanding performance, her expressions and movements showing love, concern and forgiveness for her son, emotions that later change to ones of resignation and resolve. Robert Emhardt plays Waterbury and his high, nasal voice is unforgettable, making it important that Sadie heard the voice of her son's killer, even if she did not see his face. In the flashback where Michael is killed, we hear "Hello, Mike" in what is clearly Emhardt's voice. Sadie hears a tussle downstairs and then a shot; she rushes to the landing and sees the legs of the killer, though those legs do not look like those of a man of Emhardt's girth.

Robert Emhardt
In another flashback, Sadie is questioned by a local policeman and a New York detective and she lies about having seen Michael's little black bag. She learns that he was involved in a bank robbery where over $200,000 was stolen, which fixes the small technical problem from Slesar's story--it does not make sense that a man would pay $75,000 to buy a house to recover "many, many thousands of dollars," but it is understandable that one would pay $50,000 to find $200,000 in hidden loot.

Why does Sadie lie to the police about having seen the bag? She admits to Waterbury that she lied and that she never searched for the bag. Perhaps her goal from the start was to find her son's killer and bring him to a sort of rough justice by poisoning him; by making it known that the money was never found she ensured that the killer would one day return. The final scene of the show is a tense one, when Sadie and Waterbury reveal themselves to each other. Waterbury's salesman's smile is frightening, as he threatens the older woman in a calm voice, but she gains the upper hand by pointing out that she did not tell him her story until after he had drunk his lemonade. He collapses on the floor as she rocks silently in her chair, recalling the rocking figure of Eternal Motherhood in D.W. Griffith's Intolerance (1916) and Walt Whitman's "Out of the cradle, endlessly rocking"--here, the figure of the rocking woman represents the justice that awaited the guilty man sitting across from her.

Endlessly rocking
As in the prior Slesar episode, "On the Nose," the musical cues in "The Right Kind of House" are especially good, and Don Taylor works with director of photography Lionel Lindon to create a shadowy. noirish mood in the flashback scene where Michael is killed..

Robert C. Dennis (1915-1983) wrote hundreds of scripts for television in his career, including 30 for Alfred Hitchcock Presents. He worked on the script for "A True Account" along with Fredric Brown. He also wrote for Batman and The Outer Limits.

Don Taylor (1920-1998) began his career as an actor in the 1940s but also began directing in the 1950s, mostly for television. He acted in one episode of Alfred Hitchcock Presents and directed seven.

Robert Emhardt (1914-1994) had a thirty year career in TV and movies and appeared in seven episodes of the Hitchcock series, including De Mortuis.

Jeanette Nolan (1911-1988) began her career on radio in the 1930s and moved into movies in the 1940s and TV in the 1950s. She played hundreds of roles on TV and was seen in Fritz Lang's The Big Heat (1953) and Hitchcock's Psycho (1960), where she was the voice of Mrs. Bates. She was on Alfred Hitchcock Presents four times, and she also had roles on The Alfred Hitchcock Hour, Thriller, The Twilight Zone, and Night Gallery.

Jeanette Nolan
James Drury (1934- ) plays the role of Sadie's son Michael in the flashback sequences. This was his only role on the Hitchcock series but he would later star for nine years in the lead role of the series, The Virginian.

Jeanette Nolan and James Drury
Finally, in the small role of realtor Aaron Hacker is Harry O. Tyler (1888-1961), who also appeared in "The Dangerous People" and "And So Died Riabouchinska." Tyler's list of movie and TV credits is long and includes eleven episodes of Alfred Hitchcock Presents, the Marx Brothers film A Night at the Opera (1935) and the John Ford classic, The Grapes of Wrath (1940).

Harry O. Tyler
"The Right Kind of House" can be purchased on DVD here or watched for free online here.

Grams, Martin, and Patrik Wikstrom. The Alfred Hitchcock Presents Companion. Churchville, MD: OTR Pub., 2001. Print.
IMDb., n.d. Web. 25 May 2013.
"The Right Kind of House." Alfred Hitchcock Presents. CBS. 9 Mar. 1958. Television.
Slesar, Henry. "The Right Kind of a House." 1957. Clean Crimes and Neat Murders: Alfred Hitchcock's Hand Picked Selection of Stories by Henry Slesar. Ed. Alfred Hitchcock. New York: Avon, 1960. 85-91. Print.

Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, n.d. Web. 25 May 2013.

Monday, May 27, 2013

Do You Dare Enter? Part Two: March-June 1969

The DC Mystery Line 1968-1976
by Jack Seabrook,
Peter Enfantino
& John Scoleri

Nick Cardy
The Witching Hour 1 (March 1969)

"Save the Last Dance for Me!"
Story by Denny O'Neil
Art by Pat Boyette

"Eternal Hour!"
Story and Art by Alex Toth

"The Perfect Surf or How to Make Waves Without Even Trying!"
Art by Jack Sparling

Peter: DC launched the second title in its budding mystery line in March 1969 with The Witching Hour. Whereas the House of Mystery (and the upcoming House of Secrets) was maintained by a single mascot, TWH was introduced by a trio of witches: Cynthia, Mordred, and Mildred, constantly aflutter around their boiling cauldron. The humor found in Cain, caretaker of the HOM, was carried over into this title as well. We first encounter the three witches while they're scolding their man(?)servant Egor for bringing home frozen pig's feet rather than the requested cloven hooves. We discover quickly that there is a divide between the two old hags, Mildred and Mordred, and their cousin, the gorgeous new-age dazzler, Cynthia ("Spare me that 'double bubble, toil and trouble' bit!") and the stories included in each issue are a competition of sorts to see which generation can tell the more frightening stories.  One difference in the new package was the cover artist. Nick Cardy had done the initial House of Mystery (the classic image that opens our blog) but then turned over the reins to Neal Adams. Cardy would do 46 of the 66 covers of The Witching Hour issues we'll cover in this blog, including the fabulously atmospheric first issue.

Toth or Adams?
Jack: I got a big kick out of the framing story in this issue. It's really goofy and fun and I like being asked to judge which tale is the best. Alex Toth is credited with both script and art and, while his drawing style is not quite up to the level he reached in the 1950s, it's still much better than the sort of thing he would be doing about ten years later. I also like that Cynthia has cat's eyes!

John: While I also enjoyed the approach of using the three witches, I thought we were in for real trouble with the emphasis on the hip, sixties witch. And maybe it's the result of my being from a later generation than you two, but I didn't find Cynthia particularly attractive...

signed by Toth
Peter: So what about the contents inside this premiere issue? "Save the Last Dance for Me" and "Eternal Hour" are marred by silly stories and "twist" endings that make no sense but are saved by great art. Pat Boyette concurrently worked for Charlton and contributed scads of really creepy artwork for titles like Haunted, Ghost Manor and The Many Ghosts of Doctor Graves. For my money, his greatest work is "The Rescue of the Morning Maid" for Warren's Creepy (#18, January 1968), a nightmarish, almost surreal, ghost story that has to be read to be believed. Nobody's art looked like Alex Toth's--blankets of black and that stick-figure lettering, and you could spot his stuff a mile away. We'll be discussing Toth's art quite a bit on our war blog. The final story, "The Perfect Surf or..." is a goofy little nothing about a surfer searching for the "perfect wave" and the rotten kids around him who decide to play a practical joke on him. They tell him they've heard about a witch in a hut on a beach (!) who can point him in the direction of that little piece of heaven. Who wins and who loses is up in the air. The Old Witch seems to get what she wants. Our beach boy definitely gets what he wants, despite it costing him his life (ostensibly). It's got a very silly ending but I like it because of its silliness rather than in spite of it. By the way, the GCD, an incredible source of information that Jack and I rely on constantly for artist and writer credits, credits Neal Adams for that epilogue (a two-page wrap-up of the argument between the witches) and notes that the acknowledgement came from Neal himself. It sure looks like Toth to me though.

Credited to Adams--the blonde is clearly Neal's work
Jack: I'm not ready to agree that these stories feature great art, but they are fun. What I liked most about this issue was the concept and the way it was executed. The frame is long and involved, much more detailed than the brief appearances by Cain over in HOM. I can see a glimmer of Adams in the last part of the frame, but I have to say that, if we accept that Adams drew the last two pages, the first four pages look more like his work than that of Toth, judging from the second story in the issue. All in all, a fun start to this series!

John: While I thought the first and third stories were forgettable, "Eternal Hour" gets my vote for best of show in this premiere issue, for decent art and the most interesting story. I also thought it was funny that only the hip-witch Cynthia's story featured a classic old crone. Go figure!

Neal Adams
The House of Mystery 179 (April 1969)

"Sour Note!"
Story by E. Nelson Bridwell
Art by Jerry Grandenetti and George Roussos

"The Man Who Murdered Himself!"
Story by Marv Wolfman
Art by Berni Wrightson

"The Widow's Walk"
Story by Howie Post
Art by Neal Adams and Joe Orlando

Jack: This is the first issue of House of Mystery to feature all-new stories, and it's a mixed bag. "Sour Note!" tells of a man who meets a beautiful female ghost. She does not understand what he says so she writes him a note in a language he can't read. He then proceeds to show the note to everyone he cares about in an attempt to have it translated. They all react with disgust and anger and banish him from their lives. He eventually loses everything and turns up at the police station, where they show him the note and he can finally read it. It says, "April Fool!" This is the kind of shaggy-dog story that gives scary comics a bad name.

Peter: Wow, is it ever a mixed bag, Jack! "Sour Note" is incredibly stupid and badly written. Examples? "I stepped out onto the porch and heard the creak of the boards yell beneath me as I moved to the front door and knocked gingerly, my knuckles barely touching the door as it opened with a rusty screech, revealing a musty vacancy inside..." But not all of it is that overwritten and hyperbolic. How about this, then: "My obsession with the note really haunted me!" It all builds up to a punchline that never comes, topped with an expository from Cain just in case we didn't get what was going on. I still don't know what it's supposed to mean. Why would the ghost give the note to our unnamed narrator? What's the motive? Who knows? I assume E. Nelson Bridwell couldn't figure it out either. Just skip the hard part and blind them with your bullshit, I says. Oh, and E., the artist's name is Charles Addams.

John: And to think that for a few pages I was actually curious to read what was written in the note. For my money, had the story ended with us seeing the note was blank, it would have been far more satisfying. Instead, we get a inexplicable cop-out. Fool me once, Cain...

Jack: "The Man Who Murdered Himself!" is a supposedly "true" story that is notable for being one of Berni Wrightson's first professional credits. It's only three pages long and the story is not very interesting, but that Wrightson magic is already evident.

John: I'm reading these first issues by way of the black and white Showcase reprints, and I can honestly say, based on seeing the color variation above, that Wrightson's art is much better suited for black and white than such a garish color palette. Unfortunately, this 'true' tale doesn't live up to the art. So once again, Sergio Aragones' Cain's Game Room saves the day. Can't go wrong with a handful of his single panel cartoons with a dark twist.

Peter: "Widow's Walk" is a meandering mess about a seaman who weds Mary to gain her father's inheritance and, when he finds he's been left out of the will, dumps her like a sack of laundry. Mary doesn't cotton to this treatment and curses Angus as he heads back out to sea: "I shall will you never to reach harbor until the day I die!!" Sixty years go by and Mary finally drops of old age and Angus is allowed to come back to port. He's a little worse for wear and barnacles. What's not made clear (yes, I know it's a 10-page story) is the scope of the curse and why Mary suddenly has the power to lay said curse on Angus and his ship. Was she born into a supernatural line? Why couldn't Angus simply put in at Boston harbor or San Francisco? That last panel's a creepy keeper, though, despite the slapdash story.

An obvious homage to EC, but a great one!
John: Wow! This one looked to be an irredeemable by-the-numbers tale of greed, so imagine my surprise when it paid off in a single panel! It almost makes up for the long slog getting there. Sadly, it left me wanting to read the story that starts with this premise...

Jack: "The Widow's Walk" is one of the worst examples of Neal Adams's artwork I've ever seen. We can't blame the inker, since it's Joe Orlando. More likely, Adams just dashed this one off to make a quick buck. There are some of the classic Adams touches here and there, but there are also panels that barely look like his work.

This panel is not included in
The Best of Neal Adams

Nick Cardy
The Witching Hour 2 (May 1969)

"Untitled (Yarrghh!)"
Art by Jack Sparling

"The Trip of Fools!"
Art by Jose Delbo

"Once Upon a Surprise Ending"
Art by Jack Sparling

Peter: "Yarrghh!" is yet another variation on The Tell-Tale Heart, this time starring a businessman who murders a younger colleague after having been skipped over for a promotion. He's then haunted by the man's scream, eventually to the point of madness. Even back in 1969, this must have been a tired old suitcase. Sparling's exaggerated, cartoony style actually suits the silliness of the story (you can almost feel the sweat that runs off Sparling's fat guys) but it's that silliness that eventually weighs it down and sinks it.

Jack: I enjoyed this story, though I admit it's an old one and I knew how it would end. Did you notice how the fat witch telling the tale was puffing and sweating as she ran along with the main character? Pretty neat.

John: By issue two, I was tired of the three witches framing device, and things went downhill from there.

Peter: The word silly could be used for "The Trip of Fools" as well but the theme is a bit more serious. Well, we think it's serious. Just before the Civil War, an African slave has the power to make his captors disappear in a poof of smoke. It's only after eight pages that we discover that the slave is actually an alien in disguise. He's traveling around, teleporting slave bosses to his planet. In an overly expository last panel, the disguised alien explains to his home crew (also disguised as Africans--why? who knows!) "You may radio a report to our planet that our mission was successful! These primitives will be most useful as nursemaids rearing our children in the ways of harshness and cruelty," but then inexplicably adds "get me off this planet--there is something about life here that disturbs me..." Why would the hatred and inhumanity the alien witnesses disturb him when he's here to handpick louses in the first place? He's heading back to a barbaric planet but he's upset about our way of life. Interesting. But stupid. This is an example of a writer wanting to make a statement about civil liberties without actually knowing how.

Jack: Whoa! I did NOT see that ending coming. I liked this story more than you did, though I was puzzled by how the clocks kept striking midnight on what appeared to be the same night. This comic hit the stands in early 1969, right after the turmoil of 1968, so a story about slavery was very timely. For a short comic book story stuck in the middle of a scary mag, I thought it was pretty well done.

John: Okay, I think I'm beginning to get it. The writers were handed a last panel and told to craft a spooky story around it, and given a specific number of pages to fill. Unfortunately, there are no last-panel redemptions to be found in this issue. Which gets us to our next story up for review...

Peter: "Once Upon a Surprise Ending" is a 5-page toss away, enlivened by some snappy, amusing dialogue and a so-so Sparling art job. There's no substance at all (and a "surprise ending" that's been used far too many times) unless it's meant to be a satiric take on the modeling business of the late 1960s (a photographer's declaration that the gorgeous subject in front of him  is "not a queen--just a princess! That skinny English dame is the queen" is obviously aimed at super-model Twiggy) or possibly on the shallow nature of chasing beauty. It also could be just another silly comic book story. Again, Jack Sparling suits this type of material. The GCD lists no credits for the writers this issue.

Jack: Just silly stuff, but fun! It's interesting how this comic seems to have one satirical short story in each issue, at least so far.

John: Well, if it works for a third of the readers, that's better than nothing. Again, I guess I was born too late to appreciate the hipster chic of these disappointing tales.

Neal Adams
The House of Mystery 180 (June 1969)

"Comes a Warrior"
Story by Gil Kane
Art by Gil Kane and Wally Wood

"His Name is... Cain Kane!"
Story by Mike Friedrich
Art by Gil Kane and Wally Wood

"Scared to Life"
Story by Marv Wolfman
Art by Bernie Wrightson

Jack: I don't know how "Comes a Warrior" ended up in House of Mystery, but I'm glad it did! Rangarry, a warrior in 673 A.D. who looks more than a little bit like Thor and swears by Odin, vanquishes a dragon only to find that the dragon was the only thing preventing the temple demons from roaming free. The art is stunning and features plenty of great action poses by the master. I don't see any of Wally Wood's handiwork here, though he's credited with the inks.

John: I was excited when I saw Wood's credit, followed by a page of three large panels of a bizarre rocky landscape that appeared to be his... but I also failed to find a trace of him after that. Still, the initial dragon of the story made me think of the Marvel Godzilla stories I read as a kid. If only the art that accompanied the twist ending was more menacing and less comedic, we might have a more powerful tale here.

"Comes a Warrior"
Peter: What if Thor made a mistake now and then? That seems to be the question behind Kane's masterpiece, a sword and sorcery tale that sports a killer finale. In the beginning, I suspected I was only in for another derivation of Conan (to be fair, this actually predates Marvel's Conan the Barbarian by more than a year) but what I got was far more sly. Then we have the added bonus of a sort-of sequel in "His Name is... Kane," a trippy behind-the-scenes of the DC locker room, complete with a cameo from editor Joe Orlando. Lots of in-gags and subtle jabs, as when Kane complains to Orlando that "those second-hand factory workers you call writers don't know a story plot from a piece of ground!"or when, sucked into his own artwork, he screams: "...faced with the terrible torture of the worst possible demons -- an editor and a writer!" Musing that he'll dump mainstream comics and publish his own project is an allusion to the failed His Name is... Savage (providing an obvious inspiration for the title of the HOM story), a violent magazine-sized experiment, written and drawn by Kane, published the prior year by Adventure House. Kane's Savage was inspired by actor Lee Marvin and his role as Richard Stark's Parker character in Point Blank (1967). As humorous as some of "His Name..." is, the reader gets the feeling (most prevalent in the panel where Gil, enveloped in his own artwork, is framed and hung on a wall) that Gil Kane felt trapped and suffocated by the comics business. Despite this vibe, both stories are solid gold.

Jack: These stories don't often work, but this one is very funny, especially when Kane complains that he's sure to be stuck with a terrible inker--in this instance, he's being inked by one of the all-time greats!

Peter: In an interview with Jon B. Cooke, published in Comic Book Artist #5 (Summer 1999), Gil Kane revealed that he wasn't getting along with DC Editorial Director Carmine Infantino at the time and that "His Name is... Kane!" was Carmine's way of "getting back" at the artist: "Clearly because I had the material outline I knew what they were going to do but they did everything they could to needle me. I tried to get back at them as much as possible by drawing Carmine in there, I drew Mike Friedrich with a face full of ulcers, and I drew Joe Orlando as a monster. I tried to get back at them. It really didn't level me or anything. The job came out pretty well." Indeed it did!

John: An odd diversion for 'Page 13,' to be sure. Fortunately, it didn't signal the end of Aragones' involvement in HOM, as his Cain's Game Room was not only right behind this story, bringing a smile to my face, but also for a double-dip before the issue closes out! I was hoping one of my colleagues might have covered the illustrated two-page prose tale, "Oscar Horns In!," since I've never been fond of prose stories squeezing their way into my comic books. It's almost as if DC was trying to remind us to eat our vegetables. Well, if one of you out there took the time to read it AND found it to be worthwhile, I'm counting on you to let us know through the comments.

Jack: With the three-page chiller, "Scared to Life," by Berni Wrightson, we have our first classic issue of HOM: a Neal Adams cover, Gil Kane & Wally Wood, and Berni Wrightson! It doesn't get better than this. And, as a DC fan, I should add that the house ads this month feature several classic covers--1969 was a great year for DC.

John: A Wrightson tale written by Marv Wolfman, no less! While Wrightson's art again proves to be worth the price of admission (and even more stunning reproduced in black and white), Wolfman's tale ends rather abruptly, causing me to wonder if this story would have been well served with the two pages used for the prose story. It seemed to me like the key thing missing was a sound effect heralding the elevator crash. Now that I think about it, I'm not sure if I've ever seen Wrightson use that storytelling technique. I guess I will remain on the lookout for that in future issues.

The Retro-Ad Page

eBay, here we come!
Wertham musta choked on his ham sammich when he saw
this thinly-veiled example of bestiality in comic books!

And... Coming Next Week!

Monday, May 20, 2013

Star-Spangled DC War Stories! Part 2: July 1959

By Corporals Enfantino and Seabrook

All American Men of War 71

"Target for an Ammo Boy!"
Story by Robert Kanigher
Art by Joe Kubert

"Snipers Roost!"
Story by Bob Haney
Art by Mort Drucker

"Tell Baker I'll Be There!"
Story by Ed Herron
Art by Russ Heath

PE: The deadly sharpshooter in the "Snipers Roost" remains mostly unseen to us throughout the story. We catch glimpses of his trigger finger and unfocused eye but, for the most part, he's a faceless killing machine. On the other end of the scope, our G.I. (the sniper's target) is a fearless predator, intent on putting an end to the menace in the bell tower. "Snipers Roost" is a lot of suspense packed tight in a five and a half page package with stark, minimalist art and narrative ("The sniper fixed the two tiny figures in his sight like flies on a large saucer..."). As the G.I. nears the tower, the previously unwavering marksman loses his cool and, even though we're meant to root against this Nazi monster, the claustrophobia is palpable and we feel his fear. Artist Mort Drucker is known primarily for his long career with Mad Magazine but he also found time to illustrate several DC war stories. "Sniper" was Drucker's thirteenth job for All American Men at War.

JS: I like "Target for an Ammo Boy!," which looks like the first story featuring a soldier known as T.K. or Tank Killer and his sidekick, a younger man who loads his bazooka for him. The "Kid" narrates the story and at first he is frustrated because all he does is carry the bazooka around--T.K. always has the thrill of firing it. They get into quite a few sticky situations with tanks firing at them but T.K. always manages to blow up the lumbering machines with a well-placed shot from his bazooka. Kubert's art is sharp, especially in the faces, and there's a fair amount of action. I liked this story and am looking forward to see if it becomes a regular feature, though I can't imagine they'll just keep wandering around shooting a bazooka at one tank after another--that would get old fast.


G.I. Combat 74

"A Flag for Joey!"
Story by Robert Kanigher
Art by Ross Andru

"Six-Gun Beach-Head!"
Story by Bob Haney
Art by Russ Heath

"No Word for a G.I."
Story by Bob Haney
Art by Bob Forgione and Jack Abel

PE: "No Word for a G.I." suffers from that annoying habit war writers had: take a word and run it into the ground. In this case, the word is "committed," which we learn means an outfit that has been given orders to stay on the battlefield no matter what (in other words, a suicide squad). At first, the word is meant to educate us (and it does) but then Haney gets carried away, overeducating us. "Committed" is used 35 times in 6 pages and, by the end of the story, I needed to be committed.

We figured Joey's days were numbered.
JS: Definitely a weaker issue than this month's All American Men At War, G.I. Combat features repetitive stories and by the numbers art. In "A Flag for Joey!" Joey survives some battles by carrying his good luck charm--a flag his father gave him to plant in the war. When he breathes his last, his pal, who had only been tolerating the flag business up to then, takes over as the chief flag-carrier until he finally puts it where it belongs. There is some nice writing here: "The enemy bomber's nose gunner swept the deck with a lead broom" made me stop for a few seconds to figure out that a lead broom is a flurry of bullets. "Six-Gun Beach-Head!" is another good-luck charm story; this time, the object is a six-shooter that a soldier inherited from his Texas Ranger grandfather. Like last month's story, "The Next Man!" (Star Spangled War Stories 82), a single soldier does the work of a whole unit.

Our Army at War 84

"Laughter on Snakehead Hill!"
Story by Robert Kanigher
Art by Irv Novick

Story by Hank Chapman
Art by Ross Andru

"Cleared to Combat!"
Story by Bob Haney
Art by Bob Forgione

PE: In "Flameout," our narrator, a fighter pilot, watches helplessly as his brother Joe (also a pilot in the same squadron) is shot down and killed by the enemy while attempting to stop a munitions train. Seizing vengeance by the reins, our nameless Captain redoubles his efforts to destroy the train before it enters a tunnel. Two unfortunate incidents happen almost simultaneously: the bomb he drops "hangs up" on him (it doesn't completely disengage) and his jet has a "flameout" (the engine stalls). With not enough time nor altitude to restart the engine, he aims the plane at the tunnel, ejects, and blows the train to hell. As I've mentioned, it's hard to find fault with any of the war stories if for no other reason than most of these writers experienced the hell of combat and I haven't. Reading some of these stories is both enlightening and exciting. When our Captain's jet effectively becomes the bomb, I could feel the tension come off the page. What the hell do you do in that situation other than prepare for the worst (you're gonna be blown to pieces) and hope for the best (lots of broken bones)? Outside of The Amazing Spider-Man, I've not seen much of Ross Andru's work and here his art has a nice Alex Toth vibe to it.  Andru might benefit from the fact that there's only one character illustrated here and his face is covered with an oxygen mask the entire time. There are several artists I've encountered over the last few years of comic blogging that might have come out the other end with a more checkered career had these ideal restrictions been in place for them (Frank Robbins, take a bow). "Cleared to Combat" suffers from a problem I have with several of the war stories: the writer feels the need to educate rather than entertain. Can war comics be entertaining? Yes, they can, by telling an involving story rather than, like "Cleared," finding a phrase and running it into the dirt. My problems with the story do not translate to the art.  I see Bob Forgione did several jobs for both DC and Atlas in the 1950s so I'm eager to check out some more of his work there.

We'd know those Ross Andru eyes anywhere!
JS: Poor Irv Novick. A decent artist, sure, but he seems to have the misfortune of following great artists. On Batman, it was always a letdown to see a story drawn by Novick when we were hoping for one by Neal Adams. In "Laughter on Snakehead Hill!," a perfectly decent story about Sgt. Rock and Easy Co., Novick has the misfortune of following last issue's milestone work by Joe Kubert. It seems that Novick can only be appreciated when he appears after a long stretch of mediocrity by, say, John Calnan. As for "Flameout," I wasn't that excited by this story, which seemed like another "do it for Joey" piece like the one we just saw in this month's G.I. Combat.


Our Fighting Forces 47

"TNT Birthday!"
Story by Robert Kanigher
Art by Jerry Grandenetti

"Pigeon for a Tiger!"
Story by Bob Haney
Art by Ross Andru and Mike Esposito

"The Three Unknown Commandos!"
Story by Bob Haney
Art by Russ Heath

PE: In "TNT Birthday," Gunner's birthday party is continuously interrupted by enemy attacks. Unlike Sgt. Rock, the "Gunner and Sarge" strip featured a heaping helping of humor and this may be why I don't like it very much. Of course, it might also be the vacuous characters, a surprise when one realizes that its author, Robert Kanigher, was also responsible for Rock. I shouldn't be so hard on the injection of humor into "the hell of war" here and there since one of my favorite TV shows, Combat, did so as well (and usually very successfully). Much better is "Pigeon for a Tiger," wherein a fighter pilot is shot down by the infamous ace "Tiger," but gets his revenge in the end, aided by the enemy's firepower. The art by Ross Andru and Mike Esposito (who would partner up several hundred times over the years, most notably on Wonder Woman and The Amazing Spider-Man) is not great, the Asian enemy ace looking as though he should be spouting "Ah, So!" lines and our hero barely fleshed out, but Bob Haney's story's an exciting one.

"Pigeon for a Tiger!"
The captured American pilot, with rapidly growing facial hair, droning "Someday... somewhere... somehow..." continuously as he watches The Tiger lift off from the battleship, is a perfect code-approved moment of why the words "war is hell" can never be topped. Writer Haney later created the Teen Titans for DC. The scariest writing in the issue, however, goes to Robert Kanigher in his answer to Michael Byrne's letter in "Combat Corner." Michael asks: "How do the men in a submarine abandon ship?" The editor maps out in great detail exactly what the sub-mariners must do to save their skin. While the sub is on surface, no problem, but if the craft is submerged, there is a complicated and harrowing array of maneuvers that seem almost impossible.

Jack: I liked "TNT Birthday!" precisely for the reason you didn't--the humor. Gunner and Sarge aren't much different than Tank Killer and Kid (see All American Men at War, above) but the story is different from any other I've read so far this month because of the birthday angle and the humor. It's a nice break from all the grenades. "Pigeon for a Tiger!" is notable only for the art and for being yet another example this month of how the Japanese were still being drawn, 14 years after the end of the war. I don't think Asians got a break in popular culture in the U.S. till at least the 1980s--watch any sitcom from the 1970s and cringe at the Asian jokes.

Star-Spangled War Stories 83

"Jet on My Shoulder!"
Story by Robert Kanigher
Art by Ross Andru and Mike Esposito

"A Stripe for St. Lo!"
Story by Bob Haney
Art by Mort Drucker

"War Doesn't Sleep!"
Story by Bob Haney
Art by Jack Abel

PE: "War Doesn't Sleep!" explores the ironies of "The Grass is Always Greener..." in wartime. One morning, a tank driver, heading off to battle, sees a sleeping soldier in a foxhole and wishes he had it so well, snoozing the war away. Of course, once the night comes, the reverse happens. "Jet on My Shoulder" suffers from the "running the phrase into the dirt" ailment mentioned previously. A new pilot attempts to show his squad he can keep up with them while his aircraft continually "tells" him "Show Me!" When the young man has finally broken through and applied himself to his task, his jet replies, "Showed Me!"

"A Stripe for St. Lo!"
Much better is "A Stripe for St. Lo." Buck Private Charlie Kidd is told he'll get a nice fat stripe for his uniform if he can be the first to break through the gates of St. Lo (located in Northern France). On his way, he meets a similarly undecorated "old man" in a foxhole and becomes convinced the man wants the stripe as well. A one-sided mental battle begins as Kidd watches the old soldier take St. Lo and, ostensibly, glory but it's his own cover fire that ensures victory. Later, Kidd is startled to discover the "pop" is actually a General (the officers must strip their bars so as not to draw sniper fire), who hands the youngster his first bars.

JS: I didn't know what the heck was going on in "Jet on My Shoulder!" except that Ross Andru was drawing another guy wearing a helmet while flying his plane. I kept thinking that there was some secret he didn't know about his plane. Alas, 'twas not the case. "A Stripe for St. Lo!" was a goodie. I thought the old soldier was the C.O. tricking the Buck Private I was surprised to see he was a general!

PE: And here's a good place to give a shout out to those incredible covers. The stories and art inside the titles may not always rise to the top but the majority of the war covers are knockouts!

All credits found at the Grand Comic Database.

Next Week!

Thursday, May 16, 2013

The Hitchcock Project: Henry Slesar Part Three-"On the Nose" [3.20]

by Jack Seabrook

"On the Nose" was the third tale by Henry Slesar to be adapted for broadcast on Alfred Hitchcock Presents. The story on which it is based bears the title "Something Short of Murder!" This title has nothing to do with the plot and sounds like it was tacked on by the editor of Alfred Hitchcock's Mystery Magazine, where it appeared in the November 1957 issue under the pen name of O.H. Leslie.

The story begins as Fran Holland calls her bookie, Phil Cooney, to place a bet on a horse. He refuses to accept, insisting that she first pay him the twenty five dollars she owes. Cooney tells Fran that he will pay her a visit. She looks in the mirror and sees "a young face still, with all the marks of the years concentrated around her eyes. Her hair was jutting in too many directions . . ."

Cooney arrives and wants his money today, threatening to return at six o'clock to ask her husband for it. Fran fears that such a visit would result in her husband's being disappointed in her; she is addicted to gambling and wonders "how could she face that scene again?" Fran has even pawned her engagement ring to support her habit. She scours her apartment but can only find a few dollars in change. Struck with an idea, she walks to the bus stop and pretends to be out of money for bus fare. Fifteen cents at a time, she convinces strangers to give her coins. By three o'clock she has almost fifteen dollars.

Before she can collect any more money, however, a man accosts her and, thinking he is with the police, she goes with him in his car. She soon discovers that he has other intentions and is not a policeman She manages to escape from the car and he crashes; she takes ten dollars from his wallet while he is unconscious. Beating the six o'clock deadline, she pays Cooney what she owes. On returning home, her friend Lila tells her that her husband called: he had to fly to Chicago at the last minute and will not be home tonight. Having learned no lesson from her ordeal, Fran calls Cooney to put five dollars on a horse named Chicago Flyer!

"Something Short of Murder!" is an entertaining story that (like "The Day of the Execution") was snapped up by the producers of Alfred Hitchcock Presents, filmed, and broadcast on February 16, 1958. Irving Elman wrote the teleplay, which is a faithful adaptation of the Slesar's story. The TV show opens with a scene at the breakfast table, as Fran's husband Ed notices that her watch is missing and tells her that he will leave her if she starts gambling again. Ed never appears in the short story, but this added scene takes something that was told on the page and dramatizes it onscreen. In scene two, we see Fran's friend Lila; this scene is also new to the story, again dramatizing something that was only referred to on the page. Here, Lila arrives at Fran's apartment and boasts about having won the daily double the day before--"two hundred and sixty eight bucks!"

Carl Betz
Fran then calls Cooney and the TV show follows the story closely for awhile, until Fran is unable to raise the necessary funds from her stint as a bus stop con artist. She walks into a store and steals a silver compact case; on exiting the store, she is immediately accosted by a man who inexplicably knows what she has stolen. He takes her in his car, as in the story, and when she realizes that he is not a policeman and has other intentions (he offers to give her twenty dollars if she will be "agreeable") she hits him with her purse, causing the car to crash. She walks away from the accident in a daze. Later, policemen come to her door at home and return her purse. They tell her that they found a twenty dollar bill and the silver compact case next to the purse and assumed they were hers. She returns the case ("It's not mine!") but keeps the twenty. She pays off Cooney before the deadline and gets a call from Ed, who tells her that he is flying to Washington (not Chicago, as in the story). Though she had sworn to Cooney that she was through with gambling, it does not take long for her to call him to place a bet on a horse named Washington Flyer.

David Opatoshu
"On the Nose" was written by Irving Elman (1915-2011), who later said that he first met Joan Harrison, producer of Alfred Hitchcock Presents, when she was producing Janet Dean, Registered Nurse, a series that ran from 1954 to 1955. She later hired him to write for the Hitchcock series and he penned three episodes in all.

Jan Sterling (1921-2004) is perfectly cast as Fran; she is a little hard-edged and past her prime, pretty but no longer young. She was 36 years old when "On the Nose" was filmed and her prior film roles included Billy Wilder's Ace in the Hole (1951) and The High and the Mighty (1954), for which she received an Academy Award nomination. She appeared in one other episode of Alfred Hitchcock Presents and another of The Alfred Hitchcock Hour. One subtle touch that enhances "On the Nose" is Fran's hairdo, which recalls the hot roller style popular in the 1940s. The fact that Fran still wears it in 1958 suggests that she is behind the times and clinging to a past where she was young and pretty.

Linda Watkins
Co-starring as Fran's husband Ed is Karl Swenson (1908-1978), who seems a little old for the part (Swenson was 13 years Sterling's senior). His one scene is marred by some sloppy shot matching, especially in two shots where he moves his arm from side to front before and after a cut. This sort of problem crops up from time to time in this series, which was never meant to be scrutinized in high definition on a large screen over fifty years after it was produced. Swenson appeared in three episodes of the Hitchcock series, can be seen as the prophet of doom in the diner in Hitchcock's The Birds (1963), and played Lars Hanson from 1974 to 1978 on Little House on the Prairie.

Another character actor who makes the most of her brief time onscreen is Linda Watkins (1908-1976), who plays Fran's friend Lila. She appeared twice on the Hitchcock series, three times on Thriller, and also was seen in the memorable made for TV movie, Bad Ronald (1974).

Karl Swenson
David Opatoshu (1918-1996), recently seen here as the proprietor of "The Magic Shop," appeared in a total of three Hitchcock episodes. His performance as Cooney, the bookie, is smooth, he is smiling on the surface but hard underneath.

The score in "On the Nose" is notable in the scene where Fran realizes she has a deadline to raise the money to pay Cooney. There is a phrase that sounds like a chiming clock, followed by ominous music that reflects Fran's mood. These episodes were scored with stock music from the studio vault and this episode does not even have a credit for a music supervisor.

Carl Betz (1921-1978), who would soon become famous as Donna Reed's husband on The Donna Reed Show (1958-1966), makes an early appearance as the man who is not a policeman. His handsome, rugged features make him a natural as someone pretending to be a policeman; the revelation that he is actually a con man and a masher is all the more surprising due to his winning smile.

Jan Sterling
"On the Nose" and "Something Short of Murder!" are both light, clever treatments of the disease of gambling addiction. All of Fran's actions stem from her inability to stop gambling and her need to keep it a secret from her husband in order to save her marriage. Director James Neilson (1909-1979) keeps things moving at a rapid pace. He had directed 33 episodes of Janet Dean, Registered Nurse, where he would have known Joan Harrison well and perhaps worked on a script by Irving Elman. He directed twelve episodes of Alfred Hitchcock Presents.

"On the Nose" is available on DVD here or may be viewed online here.


Grams, Martin, and Patrik Wikstrom. The Alfred Hitchcock Presents Companion. Churchville, MD: OTR Pub., 2001. Print.
IMDb., n.d. Web. 13 May 2013.
"On the Nose." Alfred Hitchcock Presents. CBS. 16 Feb. 1958. Television.
Slesar, Henry. "Something Short of Murder!" 1957. Clean Crimes and Neat Murders. New York: Avon, 1960. 72-84. Print.
Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, n.d. Web. 13 May 2013.

Monday, May 13, 2013

Do You Dare Enter? Part 1: June 1968-February 1969

The DC Mystery Line 1968-1976
by Jack Seabrook, 
Peter Enfantino
& John Scoleri

#175 - Neal Adams
Check out the image above that we'll be using as our "title page."
Hard to resist, isn't it?
That hand beckoning from the darkened doorway.
Vintage Nick Cardy.

Teen Robby Reed had been dialing H-E-R-O on his H-Dial for a couple of years [since House of Mystery #156 (January 1966)], transforming himself into all manner of superheroes such as Human Solar Mirror,  Sphinx Man, Rainbow Raider, and, my favorite, King Kandy, who uses candy as a weapon. The inventive gimmick behind Dial H was the fact that Robby couldn't control his morphings. He had to make the best of what the Dial did for him (how do you make the best of being the Human Starfish?) no matter what the obstacles. When Robby Reed came along in #156, he knocked the previous star of HOM, J'onn J'onnz, Manhunter of Mars, into the back-up slot. In 1968, DC tried a radical new experiment that would put both characters in the bread line. 

#177 - Neal Adams
Well, a radical experiment for a four-color comic published in the 1960s. Horror comics had been a staple of funny books from the 1940s but the Senate witch burnings of the 1950s (designed to run EC Comics into the ground) had put a damper on scary happenings at the comic stands. Even in the Viet Nam era of 1968, comics were forced to produce watered-down thrills, bereft of anything you could call horror. Which is why, when House of Mystery was rebooted with its 174th issue (cover-dated June 1968), there was no hype about a new DC horror line. There was no banner in #173 proclaiming a "bold new direction in horror!" Horror, in fact, was one of the words that was banned by the Comics Code Authority (along with just about any other word used in a EC title--it's a wonder "the" and "of" weren't included) so DC had to sidestep that word entirely. Luckily though, they hired some people who knew how to write and illustrate creepy stories that could get by the CCA. HOM was certainly the place to try an experiment. The title had been floundering for years, veering from mediocre gothic tales ("I Married a Witch" in the premiere issue, January 1952) to mediocre science fiction tales ("The Spider-Man" by Ed Smalle in #28 certainly didn't blaze trails like Peter Parker's alter ego did nearly a decade later) to mediocre heroes who couldn't carry their own titles. The circulation numbers for 1967 show that HOM sold an average of 158,500 copies a month (or, roughly, 20% of what DC's top title, Batman, sold). It's a wonder that DC didn't simply close up the House rather than refurbish it.

It just took the new tenants a bit of time to bed in. Though Nick Cardy's creepy talon beckoned us into the new House of Mystery, inside we found the same old lukewarm leftovers from DC's 1960s science fiction pablum (#174, in fact, was made up entirely of reprints from HOM's sister zine, House of Secrets) and the content stayed pretty much the same for the first few issues, with little hints of what was to come peppering each subsequent number: Neal Adams's iconic covers, Sergio Aragones's first doodlings, the introduction of mascot Cain the Caretaker and, finally, some original content.

PE: That original content wasn't all good nor was it at all original."The Curse of the Cat" in #177 is a tepid Edgar Allan Poe knock-off and "The Game," written and illustrated by Neal Adams for #178, is a nonsensical fantasy about a boy who meets himself in a rainstorm that wastes a beautiful art job by Adams. In fact, only one story in the first five issues of HOM blew me away and, surprisingly, Neal Adams had nothing to do with it (other than a typically wonderful cover illustrating the story). Jack Oleck and Jack Sparling's "House of Gargoyles" (from #175) manages to terrify four decades after the fact despite the restraints put upon it by the CCA. A mysterious French sculptor arrives in a small rural town, setting tongues a-wagging. Who is this quiet man who keeps to himself in the old, dark mansion (which is actually The House of Mystery itself!)? If the portly artist wasn't enough, the populace gapes in awe at two gargoyles, seemingly sculpted overnight, suddenly perching atop the tall building. All agree that the monsters are horrible, disgusting, and should be removed. All save young Jimmy, who takes a shine to the stone creatures and decides he needs to get to the bottom of the mystery. The boy knocks on the sculptor's door and, when the artist answers, Jimmy asks him what the gargoyles want. We find out through a flashback that the sculptor once loved a woman who left him for a rival named Francois. In a rage, the man strangles Francois and steals his designs for cathedral gargoyles. With his dying breath, Francois curses him. When the artist has finished the stolen masterpieces, the monsters take wing and begin a long chase around the world. In a bit of malicious fun, Jimmy and two of his friends climb to the roof of the building and yell out to the artist that the gargoyles have left. With a scream of joy the man throws open his shutters, only to find the two stone monsters winging their way right to him. They carry him off into the night and the little town becomes quiet again. I have fond memories of picking this one up initially when it was reprinted in a DC Special titled "Beware! The Monsters Are Coming Here!" (#11, April 1971), one of those all-reprint things the majors were pumping out to take advantage of their work for hire contracts. This one featured five stories from the early days of HOM and the gargoyle story. I must have read this story a dozen times when I first got that comic. The writing has an almost To Kill a Mockingbird-ish quality to it (yes, I know it's just a short comic story) and Jack Sparling has never been better (certainly not over at Marvel). A real gem.

Jack: "The House of Gargoyles" is a terrific story, notable for being the first time Cain serves as narrator. The plot has that kind of sick fascination that marked EC's humor/horror tales, and Sparling's art is cartoonish and frightening at the same time. This is a great place for the new DC horror line to get its start. The editorial page in #176, "The Wonderful World of DC Comics," includes a review of a fanzine called Super Adventures, edited by Marvin Wolfman. Coincidentally (?), the new story in that issue is said to be Wolfman's first pro writing credit, according to the DC Comics Database. I liked "The Game" better than you did. The Adams art is flawless and what's with the cloven hoof footprints leading away from the bed in the last panel? A head scratcher indeed but a pretty cool one.

We first meet Cain on page one of HOM 175

John: I wasn't as enamored with "House of Gargoyles" as you two were. It was a fine story, but I thought that the payoff didn't require such a lengthy build-up. And while it's hard to call a single page illustration an original story, I do want to point out that Sergio Aragones first of several "Page 13's" was featured in the otherwise all-reprint HOM #174. There's much to be loved about Sergio's style, but I personally enjoy exploring all the creatures he manages to squeeze into the single panel illustration. And starting in issue #175, Aragones also provides a number of his classic-style cartoons under the byline of "Cain's Game Room." Sure, they would be equally at home in Mad Magazine, but they share a delightfully macabre twist that makes them a perfect fit in the House of Mystery. Despite Jack Sparling's art, I also enjoyed Marv Wolfman's "The Roots of Evil" in #175. It's a ridiculous premise, a scientist is working to bring trees to life for the good of man, but when you add a jilted ex-lover to the mix and sprinkle in a bit of Triffid juice, it makes for a good time. I also really enjoyed Adams' art in "The Game," but I don't think we'd even be discussing this snoozer had it been drawn by anyone else.

#178 - Neal Adams
PE: This new bb feature will examine the best that DC had to offer in such titles as House of Mystery, House of Secrets, The Witching Hour, Ghosts, Weird Mystery Tales, and Unexpected. As with our DC Combat feature, we'll be accentuating the positive so, rather than an exhaustive story-by-story breakdown, we'll spotlight two or three stories from the various titles published that month. Like the comics we examined in the recently completed Batman in the 1970s project, I have extremely fond memories of these titles from my childhood so it may be a harrowing revisit if the stories don't re-ascend to that throne they've sat upon for the last forty years. I'm assuming though that there will be plenty to discuss. House of Mystery was the only mystery title that DC published between June 1968 and February 1969 but very soon HOM will have company and our discussion will be as fleshed out as that of our "Big 5 War" feature.

Jack: I have never read any of these comics before, so I'm really looking forward to this journey!

John: I'm in the same boat as Jack, and look forward to seeing how many of these stories are as good as the Neal Adams covers might lead you to believe...


There were thirteen stories featured in the first five issues of HOM, less than half of them original. The following list of the new material includes (writer/artist(s)).

175 (August 1968)
"The House of Gargoyles" (Jack Oleck/Jack Sparling)

#176 - Neal Adams
176 (October 1968)
"The Roots of Evil" (Marv Wolfman/Jack Sparling)

A scientist whips up a formula that enables trees to think and move like humans. His well-meaning experiment goes awry when a jealous rival scientist sabotages the plan. Sparling's art isn't as sharp as that on "Gargoyles" but it's good enough. One of Wolfman's first writing credits. His writing will get better.

177 (December 1968)
"The Curse of the Cat" (Howie Post/Bill Draut)
A cad cons a blind beggar out of his fortune in gold but vengeance arrives in the form of fearsome felines. Interminably boring and overlong Poe knock-off with dreadful, almost Archie-esque artwork.

178 (February 1969)
"The Game" (Neal Adams)

Adams the artist is undone by Adams the writer, unfortunately, with this head-scratcher about a boy, caught in a downpour, who takes shelter in an old dark house and meets another lad who looks suspiciously familiar. Not sure if you'd call this a time travel tale or what. Adams doesn't even attempt an explanation and the finale seems to end in the middle of a sentence.

"What's the Youth?" (E. Nelson Bridwell/Win Mortimer & George Roussos)

A portly man visits an old crone for a potion to make a young beauty fall in love with him. The witch sells him enough of the serum for him to become a handsome man for just one night and he heads off happily. Shortly after, we see the old goat take some of the same potion to transform herself into the very babe the man had desired. Nice humorous touch to a tale that seemingly introduces one of the hostesses of the upcoming The Witching Hour title.

Aragones provided page 13 (from HOM 175)

In Two Weeks: It's The Witching Hour!

You can see previously published Bare Bones articles on the DC mystery line here.

Next Week!