Saturday, November 10, 2007

To Make A Long Story Longer...

There were only five issues of the "Mysterious Traveler" magazine, based on Mutual's famous radio program. Each digest-sized issue had a wonderfully horrific Norm Saunders pulp-like cover with a damsel in distress (that's putting it lightly!).

There they are, scanned right from my own set. Click on them if you'd like to see them big. So now for the long story with the ultra-wispy tenuous thread barely connecting things: When I was but a boy, in the early 1970's, I had a favorite book titled "Ghosts And More Ghosts". It was filled with about a dozen tales that scared the living daylights out of me. I held on to that book, and the oddly pleasant creepiness that I felt every time I read the stories inside.

Flash forward to my thirties, getting together with friends and starting an audio performance troupe called Theatre Of The Mindless... we needed some different stories to perform along with the OTR recreations...maybe some adaptations of existing stories? "Ah hah!" I said to myself, "Maybe something from that great old book 'Ghosts And More Ghosts'!"

So I flipped through my well-worn copy, searching for a suitable tale to mold into radio drama. I stopped at "The Rose Crystal Bell", a haunting story about a magical bell that brings the dead back to life, with the delightful twist that another life must fill the void immediately thereafter. Somebody gets to live, somebody else must die. Oooooh, creepy.

I got right to work on my adaptation, surprised at the relative ease at which I translated the book's text into radio script form. "I guess I really have a knack for this!". M-hm. We performed the show, and it was received pretty well...better than one might expect, coming from a junior-high-level book of ghost stories, anyway.

Flash ahead a little further to a point where I have the internet and a more serious interest in the history of OTR. I happen to do a search for the author of my old book, Robert Arthur Jr. He happens to be a rather prolific writer, creator of the 1960's series of chapter books "The Three Investigators", plenty of mystery and ghost stories in detective pulp magazines...he also paired up with David Kogan, and the two of them wrote TONS OF EPISODES (500 or so!) of several classic radio programs: "The Strange Doctor Weird", and (you guessed it) "The Mysterious Traveler".

No wonder it wasn't that hard to "adapt" his story to radio. It probably CAME from a radio script.




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