Wednesday, July 06, 2011

National Lampoon: The Newly Discovered Dark Nancy Drew Parody

Nancy Drew in National Lampoon

You're probably familiar with the above cover from the October 1974 issue of the humor magazine, National Lampoon. In it, there's a Nancy Drew parody that was so out of character that it set off Harriet Adams at the Stratemeyer Syndicate who complained about it. Definitely wasn't your good girl Nancy from the books :)

What I have never heard about from other collectors, though, is another Nancy Drew parody in the May 1978 issue of National Lampoon--shown below:

I recently acquired this from eBay as the seller noted there was a Nancy Drew piece in it. I received it today and went through it. It's kind of an unusual parody. Don't get me wrong, I have a huge sense of humor--very well rounded and am a very sarcastic person. And this parody starts out funny--but near the end, it really begins to border on the dark side and really almost crosses a strange line that leaves the reader with a bad feeling. That's not good humor--at all! Humor should make you laugh and enjoy yourself. It's almost like the author of this parody had a deep seething hatred for Nancy Drew -- either that or they had no clue how to write a good parody. Or they themselves were not in a good place when writing this piece. Something's off, that's for sure.

In this parody, The Mystery of the Clue in the Note About the Old Sycamore by Carolyn Kleene, the first page is an illustration of Nancy Drew peeking through the window at a boy or girl (can't tell!) in bed holding a red book with the words "Nancy Drew Mystery" on the cover. Nancy Drew is peeking next to a tree into this room--sort of like Nancy on the cover of The Secret of Red Gate Farm.

The parody starts off with Nancy spotting an organ grinder and monkey and assuming there's got to be a mystery involved. Bess begs to get some donuts and they lose the monkey and organ grinder in the crowd--they vanish thwarted by Bess's appetite! Bess then eats a chocolate bar--wrapper and all. Then Nancy spies some elephants crossing the road and wants to know why they're doing that and finally learns the circus is in town, thus bringing that mystery to a successful conclusion. Then once home, an oriental woman gives Nancy a crumpled letter and flees. The letter reads:

"Your mother, motherless child, still lives. To find her, go past old Redgate Farm until you reach the Apple Corners intersection near the Old Cave. Go three miles on Magnolia Lane until you come to Whispering Pines Village. Take a right near the old brickyard and you will soon see the Shimmering Lights Harbor. Take the Old Plus Willow Turnpike four miles, through the Southgate Reservoir. When you reach the Old North Maple Woods, stop and walk a mile and a half, counting every third diseased elm. At the ninety-third elm, stop, and take thirty-nine steps at a 63-degree angle to it. There you will find the Old Sycamore and your mother, who waits for you now. Signed, A Friend."

Nancy's response, "Why, I know that very tree." Nancy runs out on Hannah who notes keeping house for detectives is a thankless task. Hannah is up to something, and ditches the roast she's making for a dozen martinis. What could she be up to!?

Nancy gets to the tree and finds a woman in a flowing white robe. Turns out it's Carson Drew with a gun who wants to kill her! He tells her he's going to kill her the way she killed his wife:

"Yes, you little goody two-shoed *itch, you did! And I've hated you your whole miserable worthless chum-filled life for it!"

Apparently Nancy's mom died in childbirth and Carson Drew blames Nancy for it. He thinks her death will bring back his wife Betty. He vowed at her birth to make Nancy "the most abnormal creature the world has ever seen." He goes on to say:

"I taught you to say query instead of ask and chum instead of friend. I gave you a roadster instead of a car. I let you have no friends except for that elephant Bess and George the butch. I hoped by the time you were fourteen you'd be a four-hundred-pound invert, but it just didn't happen that way--you just got prettier and prettier. You got more and more famous and sold more and more books...that's when I realized I'd created a monster..."

Nancy says, "Dad, you can't kill the idol of millions of American girls. It can't be done."

He gets hysterical and counts on his fingers:

"No schooling, sh*t friends, totally sexless, no job, she talks funny, she's a boring, witless blob, and her mysteries are about as mysterious as fried clams! It makes no sense! I made you as worthless as possible, and you become the idol of millions of American girls!"

Nancy thoughtfully asks, "It sure does make you think twice about American girls though, doesn't it Dad?"

Carson Drew replies, "It sure does. It sure does, my dear." Then he shoots himself.

That's the end of it. Wow, such a humorous ending. NOT!

I clearly sense a lot of bitterness from this writer toward Nancy Drew. This was one lousy parody--it started off funny for about 2/3 of it, until you got to Nancy finding her "mom" a.k.a. soon to be Nancy's killer Carson Drew at the tree and from there it descended into a terribly unfunny piece that seethed with some kind of hatred and rage. The ending was really pathetic--Carson Drew commits suicide.

It was written by a Michael Civitello. A Google search of that name didn't turn up much within a few pages. I'd be curious to know what his intentions were when he wrote this. Maybe since a man who likely wasn't a Nancy Drew fan wrote it, that might explain a little bit about the dislike for all things girly Nancy Drew and his lack of understanding of why millions of girls loved this heroine. Maybe his daughter was a huge fan and he hated having to read the books with her. Could be anything. Even though his apparent lack of understanding of why girls liked Nancy Drew might explain part of it, the way the parody turned into some kind of diatribe against Nancy and having Carson Drew commit suicide was very disturbing.

No doubt Harriet Adams didn't get wind of this, or at least I haven't come across any letters regarding it in the NYPL yet. The printing of this coincides with the Nancy Drew TV show airing at the time. If Harriet thought the 1974 parody was bad, this one really takes the cake!



LuAnn Sgrecci O'Connell said...

I don't know, Jenn, maybe the writer's motives aren't as deep and dark as all that. Alot of guys just like that sort of thing. My son and his cousin, both sincere Christian young men, come up with some pretty gruesome, twisted stuff. It seems to be a guy thing!

Mikaela said...

That gave me the chills. That man's humor is more twisted than the most evil villian created in books, TV, or games. How did that even pass by the editor? With all that swearing!

Reverand Jo said...

You can get all of the issues for real cheap. I found them on Amazon for $10

National Lampoon Magazine All 246 Issues Plus 36 Radio Show Episodes and Cover Art Gallery 2 Disc Set Rare New