31 Days of Nancy Drew Topic #10
Nancy Drew Spinoff Series - Files, SuperMysteries, River Heights & Nancy Drew On Campus - A Brief Overview
When I tell people that there have been over 600 Nancy Drew books published since 1930, many (outside of our circles) can't wrap their heads around that figure. Most people remember the classic 56 and some know of the continuing paperbacks, but they can't seem to figure out how the 600 figure comes about. If you visit the Nancy Drew Books section of my website - you'll soon see how it all adds up between classic books, paperbacks and all the various spinoffs and newer modern series still being published.
In this posting, I'll briefly focus on 4 spinoffs and the rest of the spinoffs will come in future 31 days of Nancy Drew postings. Today's spinoffs are very reflective of a direction to modernize Nancy Drew and let her compete with older teen YA fiction that was becoming hugely popular at the time these spinoffs came out, while still preserving classic Nancy Drew's "safe and sane mantra" in the existing Nancy Drew Mystery Stories paperback series. You can find library bound versions of these books and foreign editions too. Grey Castle Press also issued hardcovers of at least 10 of the Nancy Drew Files - if anyone has more than 10, let us know. And some of these books made it into hardcover book club editions like the Especially For Girls book club. I've pictured one of the Grey Castle editions and one each of the book clubs for Files and River Heights.
Simon & Schuster started publishing the Nancy Drew Files series in 1986 and it ran for 124 volumes until 1997. This was the longest running spinoff series as far as number of books. These books were for teens and included more romance and murders. These came out when I was in middle school and during my high school years, so I was right at the target age for these and enjoyed them. I read them through about book #50 and then I was off to college and stopped. After college and during law school, I had to go back and collect all the ones I'd missed when I started collecting Nancy Drew past my childhood books. As with the regular series, these went through various cover layout and cover model/art changes over time as the publisher tried to keep them fresh and boost sales. There was a lot of publicity when the series debuted and there were some promotional items you can find that are fun to collect - I'll highlight these in a future 31 days posting.
As far as modernizing Nancy Drew, the Files series did the best job in my opinion of doing so - and you can see she was always in the latest fashions and that sort of thing on the covers. I own a couple of Files original cover art paintings - the Tricia Zimic painting for #83 Diamond Deceit which I've shown in the images of this blog along with the final Nancy Drew Files cover for #124 Crime at the Chat Cafe, illustrated by Bill Schmidt.
Book #100 was billed as a special collector's edition. Books 112-119 were published with images of the actresses from the 1995 Nancy Drew TV show starring Tracy Ryan as Nancy Drew.
The Hardy Boys had their own Casefiles series that was similar to the Nancy Drew Files, so naturally Nancy Drew and the Hardy Boys teamed up in the SuperMysteries series and there were 36 of these paperbacks published from 1988 to 1998. Often Nancy and pals were off working a case or doing something and the Hardy Boys had their own case going and then boom they'd merge into the same case they were all trying to solve. Like the Files series, there was romance and murders in these books - and often flirtation between Nancy and Frank.
River Heights (Loosely tied spinoff from Nancy Drew Files)
This series focused on Nancy Drew's neighbor Nicki Masters and her high school pals and really had little to do with Nancy Drew - another way to hook the teens in these kinds of series which became popular in the 80s/90s. There were only 16 books in this series plus a super sizzler special edition.
Worst. Idea. Ever. At least in how it was executed. In 1995, this series debuted where Nancy goes off to Wilder University to have a much wilder time than she was having in River Heights apparently. Wink Wink. And fans could call in and vote if she should stay with Ned. Supposedly they voted to have them break up, which of course was convenient since that was clearly what the editors wanted to help drive plots involving more romance and college dating drama than actual mysteries. The big mystery of these books was mostly navigating college with real mystery being more of a back burner in contrast to the Files or the regular Nancy Drew Mystery Stories series. The 2002 ABC Nancy Drew TV pilot that had Nancy and pals going off to college was way more exciting than these books - had this series been written more like the TV pilot, perhaps more fans might have given it a chance. There were only 25 volumes published before the plug was pulled.
If you want to purchase any of these spinoffs, you can find them at sites like eBay or in the wild and some can be downloaded at sites like Amazon. Often you'll see lots at eBay of large sets or full sets of these books - so it's a great way to get an instant collection to begin with and start reading.
In the comments, let me know, if you own any of these spinoffs? Some of you may have them in your collection because they are related to Nancy Drew - like me - but have you read any of these? Which spinoff series is your favorite and least favorite? Does anyone have a favorite story in any of these series? Any On Campus fans here?