Sunday, June 20, 2010

Can you solve the Mystery?

Sorry for the lack of updates lately. I’ve been preoccupied with other stuff. First, there was that Manga scanlation crackdown, and my disappointing argument against it.

Now, with the arrival of 22(!) volumes of CMX Mangas coming in this Wednesday, there might be even LESS chance of an update anytime soon. So I might as well start off with a post I’d been meaning to submit for some time now.

Normally, I avoided realistic art strips such as Prince Valiant and Mary Worth, since they were long-term serious works that required years of foreknowledge to just comprehend, and without any backstory, I had no desire to even read them, with a few exceptions. (More on that in a future post) The sole exception being the children’s mystery series, Can you solve the Mystery? staring Hawkeye (no relation to M*A*S*H) and Amy.

Like any other tweenaged sleuths, Hawkeye & Amy were always being called up by Sarge to help solve some currant case he was having trouble with. Where are all these policemen who’re casually bringing underage civilians to the crime scene coming from? Any REAL officer of the law would have second thoughts about bringing kids in, no matter how good they were. I suppose that’s the appeal of Detective Conan - it’s the illusion of being able to confront criminal scenes without having to risk any personal harm or damage to your paycheck.

With some variation, the stories ended with a single final panel which could be a sketch of the crime scene, or a close-up of an object. Here's a rare exception of the hint being a photograph. (Unfortunately, due to the printing restrictions, the vital clue was cut in half)

The solution to the puzzle would always be presented in a mirrored text, which would be maddening to me, since I had trouble angling the comic in front of me. (For someone who’s used to puting their comic right in front of them, doing the same with a mirror is no good - your body would get in the way) As a result, I had to ask for help in deciphering some of the clues. Here’s the code to the comic below. Can you crack it?

Ducks __Elephant
Went __Canoe
By ____Around
Car ___World
Horses _Dog
To ____On
Flew __Back
Over __Mouse

If you were able to solve the above without clicking on the comic & seeing the penciled words, you’re either a very good cryptographer, or a great liar.

Like any other mystery series, the puzzles ranged from pathetically easy...

To the maddeningly obscure.

Usually, it was Amy’s sister, Lucy who was the forefront of the easy puzzles.

Like Encyclopedia Brown, Hawkeye had his personal “Bugs Meany” in the form of Lance, who always tried to put one over the sketcher with an outlandish-sounding tale. Obviously he never heard of the old idiom “If it sounds too good to be true, it probably isn’t”.

Later, the artwork became rather rushed, with emphasis on closed-up faces, rather than drawing the backgrounds and such time-consuming details. I didn’t become aware of this until years later when I decided to go back and scan these comics in.

This is only a sampling of the various Sundays that I have in my personal collection. Until I did an online search for this comic, I wasn’t even aware that it was part of a failed publisher opportunity to try to expand their market. Hell, I didn’t even know there were dailies. I was disappointed when it went away without any fanfare or announcement, but chalked it up to being one of those comics that stayed or went. Unlike the majority of today’s newspaper comics, there was no great deal in seeing a new comic being rotated out. It really is a shame - there's nothing like it on the comics page before or since.

No comments:

Post a Comment