Monday, February 15, 2010

Power Boys

Meet the Power Boys, a cheap knock-off the Hardy Boys circa 1964. They lasted through six novels and have largely been forgotten. Except for the likes of me.

I've an entire set of their novels, all authored by Mel Lyle, and released by the now defunct Whitman Publishing Company. According to Wikipedia (America's Source For Reliable Information™):

Nothing is known about Mel Lyle. It is unknown whether this is his real name, a pseudonym for a single author, or even a house name for different writers - nor is it known whether he is still alive.

I don't know what is more tragic, the fact that Mel Lyle has been rendered so obscure by modernity that absolutely nothing is known about him, or the fact that he probably never existed to begin with.

The books themselves bear wonderful titles like The Mystery of the Haunted Skyscraper and The Mystery of the Flying Skeleton. Seriously, how awesome is that? Flying fucking skeletons! How was this series not optioned for television? Even the Three Investigators got themselves a movie. (Two movies, actually. So what if they're German?)

So, who are the Power Boys? Jack and Chip, of course! (The following info was gleaned from the first chapter of the first book in the series.)

Jack is "big for seventeen, had reddish-brown hair, cut short, and freckles."

Chip, on the other hand, "was almost as tall as Jack, but he hadn't filled out yet" and "his blond hair had reddish glints."

Note, the "reddish-brown hair, cut short, and freckles" pretty much could describe me in my teen years, but the only thing that perplexed me was the Mystery of the Chickenhawk in the Alpha Beta Parking Lot. (True story: When I was a young lad, a creeptastic old man asked me "Wanch yer cock suck'd?" This, in the parking lot of the local supermarket. My mother was out of earshot at the moment, fortunately for everyone involved.)

Speaking of parental figures, the patriarch of the Power clan is a globe-trotting photojournalist, with "thick black hair" peppered with a bit of "premature gray," named Thomas. Dad walks out on a "dangerous" assignment a few pages into chapter one, leaving the boys to their own devices.

Mom is mentioned in passing, having died at some indeterminate time of some unmentioned cause.

I googled Power Boys for more background, and had little luck. (In fact, I don't recommend you do the same, unless you want your screen flooded with twink porn. Then again...) There seem to be no other recurring characters, the boys have no friends save each other, and no permanent home, the result of the family's itinerant lifestyle. It's tough being a single parent, especially in the 1960s.

The titles, published between 1964 and 1967, are (in chronological order):

The Mystery of the Haunted Skyscraper
The Mystery of the Flying Skeleton
The Mystery of the Burning Ocean
The Mystery of the Million-Dollar Penny
The Mystery of the Double Kidnapping
The Mystery of the Vanishing Lady

Two chapters into Haunted Skyscraper and I am pretty sure the ending is going to be quite Scooby. I'm also pretty sure the Power Boys are kind of dense. But more on that in the next post.


  1. Could I please have 30 e Million-Dollar Pennies?

  2. Hi. I am the principal writer of the Power Boys Wikipedia article. It is effectively a condensed and abridged adaptation of a much longer and detailed web page I wrote on the books. If you Google "Power Boys" *together with* "Mel Lyle", you will zero in on the page straight away, and you may find it of interest. Another editor also placed a direct link to my web page in the Wikipedia article.

    I believe it is currently the only source on the Internet about the Power Boys, apart from the Wikipedia article, which is based on the page anyway.

    Regards, Michael.

  3. thanks for the info, michael. i saw the article as i was writing my piece, but i avoided reading it because i didn't want it to unduly influence my own piece. i will definitely go back to it once i'm through the series.

  4. As a kid, I bought and read two of the novels.
    Mystery of the Million Dollar Penny is one of my all time favorites. Maybe it is because I like caves and outdoor adventure. There was something
    simple about that era that is missing now.

  5. I grew up with them back in the 60's (aging myself) just couldn't get into the hardy (whimps) boys so it was the power boys for me. That was so long ago, I thought to seek the truth, that they did exist and wasn't a childhood dream that resurfaced. So that's my reason for the researching.

  6. I had the title, The Vanishing Lady... I recognized the cover right away, and quickly reordered it off Amazon, since I probably haven't read it since it was first published...

  7. Loved the series. I also have a complete set... Wish we could figure out the mystery of "Who is (was) Mel Lyle?" I suspect a house name for different writers. But who knows?

  8. I loved it when I was a kid, also in the sixties. I have since collected a full set. Wish we could figure out the mystery of "who was (is) Mel Lyle?" I suspect a house name for different writers. We may never know.

  9. The first book I ever remember reading outside of school was The Mystery of The Flying Skeleton. I too had them all until my ex-wife decided they were a waste of space. They disappeared along with the first 5 issues of Spiderman (Can we say justifiable homicide? lol). Thanks for bringing back the memories.

  10. I loved the Power Boys novels when I was a kid in the 60s too. The stories are not Shakespear's Tempest or King Lear and they are not intended to be. They were just fun light reading for kids. In fact lots of kids enjoyed those stories as tens of millions of copies were sold in multiple different languages around the world. These books are good starter novels for first time readers of long stories designed for kids, well in this case boys. (The girls had Nancy Drew of course, but those were more complex stories for more experienced young readers.)
    Yes it is easy enough to poke fun and criticize and even enjoy yourself doing it, but a multi-million dollar franchise story is not to be sneezed at lightly. Look at the longevity and gigantic profits from franchises like, The Power Rangers and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles for they have earned enough money to make billions of dollars and have been around for 40 years or more in the case of TMNT, Those franchises provide jobs for tens of thousands of people in hundreds of different careers.
    The Power boys novels were just good fun for young readers just starting out to enjoy their first lively good book.length books. It's ok to criticize just don't be mean spirited. It's better to be constructive than destructive IMHO.

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  12. I had 4 of the books as a child in the 60s. A few years ago my parents managed by accident to get the Burning Ocean. That seemed to be all that could be found. Today, after re-reading the Burning Ocean yet again, I decided to do an internet search and found the rest of them available through Amazon used book stores! Needless to say I immediately order the other 5! Life is good!

    It's also good to see others out there that enjoyed them enough as kids to leave some comments. Thank you Mel Lyle wherever (whoever?) you are!

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  14. I would like to get copies of the Power Boys books published by Triple Nickel Library authored by Authur Benwood (aka Woody Geiman) They were published from 1955-1960 or so Any help?