Midnight 6: No Strings Attached from House of Mystery #191

This episode, Ryan Daly and guest Luke Daab review “No Strings Attached” originally published in House of Mystery #191. Plus, an original short story from PJ Frightful and an important announcement about the future of this podcast! Does that sound ominous enough?

Check out Luke’s amazing work at his website: http://daabcreative.com

Midnight The Podcasting Hour Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/thepodcastinghour/

Let us know what you think! Leave a comment or send an email to: RDalyPodcast@gmail.com.

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Music produced by Neil Daly.

Thanks for listening!

20 responses to “Midnight 6: No Strings Attached from House of Mystery #191

  1. Thanks guys, another great episode. Like you guys, I love the image of Gramps working in his workshop. So detailed and so interesting.

    I was interested to hear Luke’s question about whether evil toys was some sort of a trope at the time. It seems like it might have been. Although it was before my time, I know there were several episodes of the Twilight Zone from the 1960s that certainly had evil toys (love those New Years TZ marathons!!). Here are some that sprung to mind right away:

    “Living Doll” – This was similar to the PJ Frightful story. A little girl gets a Talky Kathy doll and her stepfather (played by Telly Savalas) doesn’t like it much so he tries to get rid of it. Well, Talky Kathy doesn’t like him much either. And Kathy is more persistent in her dislike!

    “The Dummy” – This one is about a ventriloquist who believes his dummy, Willie, is alive, and evil. He takes steps to get away from the dummy but in the end, it is he who becomes the dummy and Willie the who puts words in his mouth.

    “Caesar and Me” – Another ventriloquist and dummy episode. This dummy gives evil suggestions to his Irish immigrant owner. After that guy listens to him and eventually gets arrested, he turns his evil suggestions to a little girl as the episode ends. Creepy.

    Good stuff. I think you can find at least a couple of these on youtube.

    As an aside, I was interested to hear the name of the town in this story was Pottersville. This was the same name as the rough around the edges town (named after the nasty Mr. Potter) that was the less than idyllic version of Bedford Falls in the reality where George Bailey never existed from the movie “It’s a Wonderful Life”. I wonder if that was a nod to the movie?

    And last but most certainly not least, Congrats on your impending fatherhood!!! It will certainly be a great and worthwhile adventure. I bet you will be seeing a lot more midnights after June! :)

    1. Sorry, I messed up on the name of the doll in the living doll episode. It was “Talky Tina”. Talky Tina, Chatty Cathy, I guess I got my talking dolls mixed up!

    2. Thanks for the congratulations, and nice info on the various TWILIGHT ZONE episodes playing to the trope of “toys coming alive”. I should’ve thought of that, but alas, I’ve seen precious few classic TZ episodes (although I feel like I’ve seen quite a few OUTER LIMITS).

    3. TOTALLY an It’s a Wonderful Life homage! I like to think this story happens in that dark timeline!

      Hey, the Wonderverse has angels, so praying for puppet horror is totally possible!

      Great episode Ryan and Luke!

  2. Still listening, but I had to go ahead and comment on PJ’s tale. DAMN! That was a fine short story, Mr. Daly. I could just see it as drawn by Jim Aparo, Berni Wrightson, or another DC stalwart. I could even visualize the panel breakdowns! Masterful job.

    My Dad was a loving, but not overly demonstrative type when I was a kid. But the old man DID go back and pick up my beloved Doggy (I know, real original name) anytime I accidentally left it somewhere, even up in the night. I can relate to the little boy’s connection to the stuffed animal, but thankfully my folks were both very understanding.

    Chris

  3. Great episode Ryan, though with Luke Daab as a guest I expected no less. Luke talking about his brief desire to be a puppeteer called to mind that scene from BEING JOHN MALKOVICH of John Cusack desperately searching the want ads for a job, but ONLY looking for job listed as “Puppeteers.”

    Bill Draut was one of those guys whose work was never flashy, but solid and dependable. The layouts here are quite nice, and I like his rendering of the mean-faced children. His stuff almost has a children’s book feel to it, which works well for this story; it’s like if the Very Hungry Caterpillar turned rogue and decided to start strangling people.

    ScottX comments on this above, but yes, the whole idea of evil puppets goes way back. Even before the TZ episodes he mentions, there’s a segment in the 1945 horror anthology DEAD OF NIGHT that is about a ventriloquist whose puppet has a life of its own. It’s by far the scariest story of the lot, with a final scene that is a whopper.

    Congrats on adding another spit-curled demi-god to the world! Wishing you and Angela all the best on this new Weird Adventure (see what I did there?)

  4. Bill Draut is an artist who somehow escaped my radar until recent years as well. I think I first discovered him in scans Rob posted on his Phantom Stranger blog, and in the first Teen Titans Showcase Presents volume. He drew the story that introduced the first Starfire (later Red Star). His work has a very modern aesthetic, not unlike Rodolfo DiMaggio or Cliff Chiang in some ways. I really like it!

    Great discussion on the story! Yes, the idea of toys coming to life wasn’t new (I thought of Talking Tina right off), but this one is well-executed. I’m not sure you can consider the kids complicit. They didn’t ORDER the puppets to come to life. It was a wish they didn’t believe would be granted. I’m sure they wouldn’t have been too choked up to know the results of their collective wish, though.

    Of course I’ve congratulated you elsewhere, but I want to welcome you and Angela to the Wonderful World of Parenthood once more. I think this podcast should continue as “It’s Midnight…The Feeding Hour”!!! You’ll be shambling around, zombie-like, through the darkened corridors of your home, searching, searching…for the bottle warmer!

    Chris

    1. Midnight…The Feeding Hour! LOVE IT! Now I don’t need to worry about scoring the episodes to Neil’s music; there will be plenty of crying in the background to set the mood.

  5. What do mean you’re cutting back on podcasts? You can’t do this to us! Hire a nanny!

    Congratulations, Ryan! I’ll take whatever ‘casts you can give! Well, not really. I’m afraid I have no interest in the Batman ‘cast, as the books you are reviewing are the books that i was expressly not buying anymore! You started at the end of my Batman collection. But, I’ll stick with you through these mystery/horror/spectral books, despite my antipathy toward PJ Frightful. This one was another fun one to listen to. I especially enjoyed how you and Luke analyzed, and appreciated the artwork.

    Oh, one more thing. I recommend that you read Dr. Karp’s “Happiest Baby on the Block.” His techniques worked a charm on my kid. I also recommend starting the kid with the Fleischer Superman cartoons. You want to have a solid grounding in that stuff!

  6. Thanks for another fine listen, I really wish this were a weekly show, especially with the random horror stories, they’re my favourites in the rotation – probably not the time to be asking! So congratulations again, Ryan, to you and Angela on the forthcoming bundle.

    I’d never read this particular story, and what a cracker it is, Len Wein and Bill Draut did a fantastic job, the way the title phrase was incorporated was especially impressive. I’ve only ever seen Draut’s work in the mystery books and he never lets me down, like the old toymaker, he’s a master craftsman.

    Well done Scott X on noting the Potterville reference. Is it too much of a stretch to like the kids’ pleas for something to happen to Lucas Stone to the prayers of the Bedford Falls residents for George Bailey?

    Luke was a great guest, and if you’ve never seen them, Luke, I recommend screen ghost stories The Haunting (original) and The Others.

    Puppets are indeed scary, something one of my favourite TV dramas, Criminal Minds, understood – The Lesson and The Uncanny Valley. Brrrr.

    I’m really impressed with your original tale this time, Ryan, the pacing was superb, the words chosen just right. I’d rather like a sequel, with the further adventures of Jeremy and Gammy. Maybe leave Billy behind, though, Jeremy really is getting too old for that silly stuffed… AAARGGHHHH!

  7. Finally got to listen to this and loved both your story and the comic one.

    The comic one reminded me of the little known horror movie “Dead Silence” directed by James Wan. Lots of marionettes, killer dolls, and even people becoming puppets.

    As for the future, congrats on being a Dad. I feel it is my primary job in life. Time travels fast to enjoy every single moment. Hard to believe how grown up my kids have become while I still feel like the same goofy kid inside.

    Glad to hear the podcast isn’t disappearing completely and willing to pinch hit if/when needed.

  8. *Applause* for the episode, for the wonderfully creepy original story, and, of course, the great news of your soon-to-be-bigger family. Congratulations to you and Angela, Ryan!

  9. I’m not a big fan of the horror genre, because, unlike Luke, I never outgrew my fear of things-that-go-bump-in-the-night, but I have been enjoying this podcast and the insightful discussions that you and your guests bring to each episode. You’ll just have to forgive me, if I skip any zombie-themed episodes.

    Also, congratulations on the coming addition to your family. I wish Angela and you a safe and uneventful pregnancy. I generally try to avoid giving parenting advice, but I have to second Ward’s recommendation for “Happiest Baby on the Block.” In full disclosure, I have not read the book, but my wife and I found the DVD to be a lifesaver during those first few months.

  10. Got to say the best opening story with PJ!!!! I loved the story best one to date. Can’t wait to see you top it.

    BTW Congrats on becoming a father. Just remember to be nice to your child’s stuffed animal.

  11. Wow! Incredible episode! That opening PJ Frightful story was scary as hell. As a father who has struggled with his step-son growing up and moving towards adulthood, this was a terrifying tale of what could happen in an out-of-control situation. Nightmare fuel!

    Always great to hear Luke on an episode!! And his puppeteer background made this a perfect fit!

    As I’ve told you privately, I’m thrilled for you and your wife to bring a spawn into this horrible world! Uncle Shag couldn’t be more excited!

    And finally, did someone say this was reprinted???

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