Saturday, April 30, 2011

Deceased--Bill Blackbeard

Bill Blackbeard
April 28th, 1926 to March 10th, 2011

"Bill Blackbeard, scholar of newspaper comics, dies at 84"

Bill Blackbeard, who grew up in Newport Beach, created an exhaustive archive of newspaper comics, preserving an American art form and helping to legitimize the study of comics in popular culture.

by

Valerie J. Nelson

May 9th, 2011

Los Angeles Times

Bill Blackbeard, an early scholar of newspaper comics who created an indispensable archive in San Francisco that helped legitimize the study of comics in popular culture, has died. He was 84.

Blackbeard died at a Country Villa nursing home in Watsonville, Calif. His March 10 death, confirmed by Social Security records became public only in late April when news of it circulated on websites devoted to comics.

"It's not an understatement to say that the entire movement of looking at comics as American history and culture would be fundamentally different without Bill and his contributions," said Andrew Farago of the Cartoon Art Museum of San Francisco.

In 1967, Blackbeard set out to write a scholarly history of newspaper comics but was sidetracked by a reality that did not amuse him. There was no comprehensive archive devoted to newspaper funnies to pull from, so he resolved to build one.

He soon realized that libraries across the country were converting newspapers and colorful comics to black-and-white microfiche to save space and then dumping their massive archives.

A comic-strip aficionado since his boyhood in Newport Beach, Blackbeard was aghast over what he saw as widespread disregard for preservation. He called the discovery "horripilating." ("He even talked like an old-time comics character," Farago said.)

"Blackbeard realized this was a major American art form, and it was not being properly appreciated," Farago said. "He took it upon himself to go from library to library with a rental truck and house these collections himself."

To enable libraries to legally donate their discards, Blackbeard founded a nonprofit organization, the San Francisco Academy of Comic Art, headquartered in the home near Golden Gate Park that he shared with his wife, Barbara.

The couple sold their car and many possessions to establish what they believed was "a very necessary and important repository," Blackbeard told The Times in 1971.

By then, their two-story home was already jammed floor to ceiling with bound newspapers and comics-related material. Only the bathroom was spared from doubling as academy space.

His goal was to put together a complete run of every nationally syndicated comic strip, dating from their beginning in the mid-1890s, and he largely succeeded, Farago said.

In the 1990s, Blackbeard estimated that he and volunteers had clipped and organized 350,000 Sunday comic strips and 2.5 million dailies.

He reached into his vast stockpile to contribute to more than 200 books.

Chief among them was 1977's "The Smithsonian Collection of Newspaper Comics," considered a seminal book on the history of comics. He co-edited the tome, and his archives were the source of its hundreds of images — from 1896's "Hogan's Alley" to 1976's "The Wizard of Id."

"That book was a real milestone," Farago said. "If I ran through everyone who owned that book or cited it as a major influence, it would be a very impressive 'Who's Who.' "

Before moving to Santa Cruz, Blackbeard negotiated with Ohio State University's cartoon research library in 1997 to take over his collection. Six semitrucks were needed to move it.

It was the largest collection acquired by the library and "one of the most important for the study of popular culture in general and graphic narrative … in particular," wrote library curator Jenny E. Robb in 2009 in the Journal of American Culture. The article was titled "Bill Blackbeard: The Collector Who Rescued the Comics."

William Elsworth Blackbeard was born April 28, 1926, in Indianapolis and moved to Newport Beach when he was about 9. His father, Sidney Blackbeard, was an electrician, and his mother, Thelma, kept the books for his father's business.

As an adolescent, Bill wandered into a neighbor's garage that was brimming with stacks of colorful Sunday comics. After that, he "had no other interest," he later said.

During World War II, he served in the Army in Europe. Upon his return, he attended Fullerton College and became a freelance writer.

Among the books Blackbeard wrote was "R.F. Outcault's the Yellow Kid" (1995), a detailed history of the early comic strip. He also co-edited "The Comic Strip Century" (1995), an unofficial companion to his Smithsonian work.

Although he never wrote his official history of comics, Blackbeard left "a really outstanding legacy," Farago said. "No historian or cartoon museum employee would be where they are today without his work as the cornerstone."

"Bill Blackbeard, Comic Strip Champion, Dies at 84"

by

Margalit Fox

April 29th, 2011

The New York Times

In the 1890s, when newspapers were made of sweat and trees and ink, some, amid circulation wars, began to carry a new kind of narrative art form: the comic strip. The strips were devoured daily by readers; on Sundays a new technology, color printing, further enhanced their appeal.

Those early comics were the essence of ephemera, preserved only by libraries and fervent collectors. Then, in the mid-20th century, microfilm let libraries unload decades of newspapers in their unwieldy bound volumes. Mutt and Jeff, Little Nemo, Polly Sleepyhead and the denizens of Gasoline Alley seemed destined to spend eternity as tiny black-and-white ghosts of their once-vibrant selves.

This did not please Bill Blackbeard. An author, editor, anthologist and ardent accumulator who died in March at 84, Mr. Blackbeard is widely credited with helping save the American newspaper comic strip from the scrap heap, amassing a collection considered the most comprehensive ever assembled.

His death, on March 10 in Watsonville, Calif., was confirmed by Social Security records. The death was not made public at the time — Mr. Blackbeard, an enigmatic, somewhat elusive figure, appears to have left no immediate survivors who might have done so — and word of it began percolating in the online world of comics aficionados only recently. The delay befits a man who spent his life steeped in the news-has-reached-us-by-packet-ship age.

Mr. Blackbeard first brought attention to the comic strip as pop-cultural treasure with “The Smithsonian Collection of Newspaper Comics” (1977), which he edited with Martin Williams. The book teems with images from Mr. Blackbeard’s personal archive, which eventually comprised more than 2.5 million strips published between 1893 and 1996, culled from libraries and newspaper morgues across the country.

In 1997 the archive was acquired by Ohio State University, where it forms part of the Billy Ireland Cartoon Library & Museum. It took six semitrucks to move the collection, more than 75 tons in all.

Those tons previously resided in the San Francisco Academy of Comic Art, the nonprofit institution that Mr. Blackbeard founded in 1967 and ran for decades from his house there. (More precisely, the academy was his house there, which he shared with his wife at the time, Barbara.)

To judge from published accounts of the place, Mr. Blackbeard used the same interior decorator as the Collyer brothers. Every horizontal surface — he collected more than comics — was piled with books, magazines, dime novels, penny dreadfuls, pulp paperbacks, Holmesiana and, of course, newspapers: whole papers, loose sheets, Sunday supplements, bound volumes and the torrent of comic strips he had shorn from them all.

There were newspapers in the garage, where stacks stretched to the ceiling. There were newspapers in the bedroom. There were newspapers in the living room, where foot traffic was dictated by the paths carved among tottering piles. There were newspapers in the kitchen. There were newspapers everywhere but the bathroom, and that, Mr. Blackbeard told inquisitors, was only because the humidity would have been bad for them.

It was perhaps just as well that he cared little for comic books, which he called “meretricious dreck.”

Meeting Mr. Blackbeard inspired Nicholson Baker, who caught newsprint fever from him, to write “Double Fold: Libraries and the Assault on Paper” (2001), in which Mr. Blackbeard appears.

“The thing about Blackbeard — he is like so many collectors in that he saved something terribly important, but he was single-minded: he saved things with a razor,” Mr. Baker, sounding pained, said in a telephone interview. “He had no interest in the women’s sections, in the magazine sections, in the beautiful photographs that had nothing to do with comics.”

In later years, Jenny E. Robb, curator of the Billy Ireland Cartoon Library & Museum, said, Mr. Blackbeard reformed and left bound volumes intact.

William Elsworth Blackbeard was born on April 28, 1926, in Lawrence, Ind., and reared in Newport Beach, Calif. Though “Blackbeard” sounds lifted straight from a comic-strip character, it appears to have been his actual surname.

Entranced by comic strips, young Bill discovered that neighbors were delighted to have him cart away their piles of old newspapers, which he promptly took home. This did not please his mother.

After Army service in Europe in World War II, Mr. Blackbeard studied literature and history at Fullerton College in California. He was later a freelance writer for pulp magazines including Weird Tales.

In the 1960s, wanting to write a history of the American comic strip, Mr. Blackbeard began scouring libraries for old newspapers. But no archive had all the strips he hoped to study, and he hoped to study the entire run of every strip ever published.

He soon learned that the San Francisco Public Library, having microfilmed its newspapers, was about to jettison them. As he had done with his childhood neighbors, he offered to relieve its burden. Word got around, and before long, Mr. Blackbeard had unburdened the Library of Congress, the Chicago Public Library, the Los Angeles Public Library and many others.

Mr. Blackbeard, whose marriage appears to have dissolved in later years, had lived recently in Santa Cruz, Calif.

His other books include several volumes he compiled and edited, among them “The Comic Strip Art of Lyonel Feininger,” about the German-American painter who drew strips for The Chicago Tribune; “R. F. Outcault’s the Yellow Kid”; and “Sherlock Holmes in America.”

Mr. Blackbeard’s messianic lifework gave rise to the work of many other scholars, artists and publishers.

“A filmmaker like Martin Scorsese couldn’t make what he makes if he had never heard of D. W. Griffith and Orson Welles,” Art Spiegelman, who created the Pulitzer Prize-winning graphic narrative “Maus,” said in a telephone interview. “Similarly, as my art form develops, it’s clear that the future of comics is in the past. And Blackbeard was the granddaddy that gave us all access to it.”

[Click to enlarge.]

Mutt and Jeff play Sherlock Holmes style detectives on the trail of the mysterious "Phantom" in Slick Sleuths. Originally released in 1926 this film was hand colored in the early 1930s and re-released.

video

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

X Minus One's "The Seventh Victim"...old time radio offering #17

The Seventh Victim

1965

Wikipedia...

X Minus One was a half-hour science fiction radio drama series broadcast from April 24, 1955 to January 9, 1958 in various timeslots on NBC.

Initially a revival of NBC's Dimension X (1950–51), the first 15 episodes of X Minus One were new versions of Dimension X episodes, but the remainder were adaptations by NBC staff writers, including Ernest Kinoy and George Lefferts, of newly published science fiction stories by leading writers in the field, including Isaac Asimov, Ray Bradbury, Philip K. Dick, Robert A. Heinlein, Frederik Pohl and Theodore Sturgeon, along with some original scripts by Kinoy and Lefferts.

Included in the series were adaptations of Robert Sheckley's "Skulking Permit," Bradbury's "Mars Is Heaven," Heinlein's "Universe" and "The Green Hills of Earth", " Pohl’s "The Tunnel under the World," J. T. McIntosh’s "Hallucination Orbit," Fritz Leiber’s "A Pail of Air" and George Lefferts' "The Parade."

The program opened with announcer Fred Collins delivering the countdown, leading into the following introduction (although later shows were partnered with Galaxy Science Fiction rather than Astounding Science Fiction): (Some would argue the intro countdown should have stopped at X minus one. As it was, the show should have been called: "Fire" with the resolution of the countdown as aired.)

Countdown for blastoff... X minus five, four, three, two, X minus one... Fire! [Rocket launch SFX] From the far horizons of the unknown come transcribed tales of new dimensions in time and space. These are stories of the future; adventures in which you'll live in a million could-be years on a thousand may-be worlds. The National Broadcasting Company in cooperation with Street and Smith, publishers of Astounding Science Fiction presents... X Minus One.

The series was canceled after the 126th broadcast on January 9, 1958. However, the early 1970s brought a wave of nostalgia for old-time radio; a new experimental episode, "The Iron Chancellor" by Robert Silverberg, was created in 1973, but it failed to revive the series. NBC also tried broadcasting the old recordings, but their irregular once-monthly scheduling kept even devoted listeners from following the broadcasts. All episodes of the show survive.

This offering...

"The Seventh Victim"

In a future which regulates the instinct for violence by staging government-subsidized hunts-- in effect making a social institution of murder-- there is no place for human compassion. Or is there? Story by Robert Sheckley.

Original radio broadcast

Script...

X Minus 1

"The Seventh Victim"

March 6th, 1957

SOUND:

HIGH-PITCHED ELECTRONIC HUM ... JOINED BY ELECTRONIC BEEPING IN AGREEMENT WITH COUNTDOWN

ANNOUNCER:

Countdown for blast-off. X minus five, four, three, two. X minus one. Fire.

SOUND:

A MOMENT'S SILENCE ... THEN ROCKET SHIP BLASTS OFF

MUSIC:

BUILDS VERTIGINOUSLY TO A CLIMAX ... THEN IN BG

ANNOUNCER:

From the far horizons of the unknown come tales of new dimensions in time and space. These are stories of the future, adventures in which you'll live in a million could-be years on a thousand maybe worlds. The National Broadcasting Company, in cooperation with Galaxy Science Fiction Magazine, presents -- (HEAVY ECHO) X Minus One!

MUSIC:

TO A CLIMAX ... THEN OUT

ANNOUNCER:

Tonight, we go forward in time to the days when war has been outlawed and, in its place, there is a system of carefully controlled legalized murder. The story -- "The Seventh Victim" by Robert Sheckley.

MUSIC:

FOR AN INTRODUCTION ... THEN OUT

SOUND:

KNOCK AT DOOR

FRELAINE:

(CALLS) Is that the mail, Jenny?! Bring it right in!

SOUND:

OFFICE DOOR OPENS

MORGER:

(APPROACHES, JOVIAL) No, no. It isn't the mail! You anxious, Stan?

FRELAINE:

Well, you know how it is when you're waiting for notification. It's been two weeks. The government's behind schedule, as usual.

MORGER:

Aw, that's always the way it is. When you get to be my age, you won't worry about it any more. At seventy-three, you can afford to wait for the mail. Well, how 'bout the ad? Have you got it done?

FRELAINE:

Sure, E.J. Want me to play it back for you? Of course, I recorded it myself. We'll have an actor in for the actual recording. You ready?

MORGER:

Go ahead.

SOUND:

CLICK! CLICK! OF SWITCH

FRELAINE:

(ON RECORDING) Hi, there, neighbor! When you're in a crowd, when you're among strangers, do you feel safe? Are you protected by that vital underarm area? You aren't -- unless you own a Protec-Suit! The finest tailoring in the world has gone into a Morger and Frelaine Protec-Suit, to make it the leader in men's fashions.

SOUND:

NOISY BURST OF MACHINE GUN FIRE!

FRELAINE:

(ON RECORDING) Protec-Suit is the safest as well as the smartest.

SOUND:

RIFLE SHOT, WITH RICOCHET!

FRELAINE:

(ON RECORDING) Every Protec-Suit comes with special built-in gun pocket, guaranteed not to bulge.

SOUND:

BANG! BANG! BANG! THREE GUNSHOTS

MORGER:

Nice! Very nice!

FRELAINE:

(ON RECORDING) A touch of the concealed button throws the gun into your hand, cocked, safety off.

SOUND:

BANG! RICOCHET!

FRELAINE:

(ON RECORDING) Why not drop into the Protec-Store nearest you? Why not be all-safe?

SOUND: CLICK! CLICK! OF SWITCH

MORGER:

Aw, that's fine, Stan, that's fine. That's a very nice, dignified commercial.

FRELAINE:

Mm hm.

MORGER:

And you can relax. I picked up the mail just before I came in. Here's your notification.

FRELAINE:

(QUIET ENTHUSIASM) That's it, that's it! Look, from the ECB. That's the baby!

MORGER:

Uh, you're not going to open it now?

FRELAINE:

Oh, no, no, no, of course not. No one is supposed to know the Victim's name except the Hunter.

MORGER:

That's right. Have a good hunt, boy. You need a kill. You've been all keyed up.

FRELAINE:

Well, it's too bad you have to retire, E.J.

MORGER:

Well, I got into the Tens Club. Ten hunts -- that's not such a bad record.

FRELAINE:

Ten hunts -- of course not. Ten hunts -- and then, of course, Victim in-between. That's twenty kills.

MORGER:

(WARMLY) Mm hmmmm.

FRELAINE:

I sure hope my Victim isn't anyone like you.

MORGER:

Aw, don't worry about it. What number will this be?

FRELAINE:

My seventh.

MORGER:

Oh, lucky seven. Go to it. We'll get you into the Tens Club yet. By the way, I got a circular in the mail. Maybe you'd like to use it.

SOUND:

RATTLE OF PAPER

FRELAINE:

Hmmm. Let's see. (READS) "Victims, why take chances? Use an O'Donovan accredited spotter. Let us locate your assigned killer. Pay after you get him." (TO MORGER) Oh, well, uh, thanks a lot, E.J., but I've got my own spotter. Very good fella.

MORGER:

Well, I suppose you're anxious to get home, open up, and find out who your victim is.

SOUND:

DISTANT VOLLEY OF FOUR GUNSHOTS

FRELAINE:

Huh? What's that?

MORGER:

Oh, shootin' down the hall. (CHEERY) I guess somebody got his Victim. Hmm. Good for him, eh?

FRELAINE:

You bet!

MORGER:

(CHUCKLES)

FRELAINE:

(EXULTANT) Awww, it feels wonderful, E.J. I feel alive again.

MUSIC:

BRIDGE

SOUND:

ON FILTER, PHONE RINGS, LINE CONNECTS

ED:

(FILTER, ANSWERS CALL) Mars Garage.

FRELAINE:

Hello, Ed. Frelaine.

ED:

(FILTER) Oh, hi, Mr. Frelaine.

FRELAINE:

I'm going out on one, Ed.

ED:

(FILTER) Well! Good luck, Mr. Frelaine. I suppose you want me to stand by?

FRELAINE:

Yeah, that's right. I don't expect to be gone more than a week or two. I'll probably get my notification of Victim Status within three months of the kill.

ED:

(FILTER) Well, I'll be standing by. Good hunting, Mr. Frelaine.

FRELAINE:

You be sure to save time for me now, Ed. I'd hate to be caught as a Victim without a first-class spotter on my side, eh?

ED:

(FILTER) Oh, now, don't you worry, Mr. Frelaine, I'll be right there in your corner. I've got a couple of good ideas for an ambush that I haven't tried yet.

FRELAINE:

Good, good. Well, I'll get back in touch with you right after the kill. So long.

MUSIC:

BRIDGE

SOUND:

APARTMENT DOOR OPENS ... THEN SHUTS BEHIND--

FRELAINE:

(WHISTLES A TUNE, STOPS ABRUPTLY) Oh.

GALE:

Uh, Mr. Frelaine?

FRELAINE:

(WARY) What are you doing in my apartment?

GALE:

(FRIENDLY, FOLKSY) Allow me; my card. Immanuel Gale, Emotional Catharsis Bureau.

FRELAINE:

Uh huh. What do you want from me?

GALE:

Oh, just a standard spot-check in reorientation.

FRELAINE:

(RELIEVED, RELAXES) Ohhh.

GALE:

I see you've got your notification.

FRELAINE:

Yeah, that's right. I, uh, haven't opened it yet. Do you mind?

GALE:

Oh, no, go right ahead.

SOUND:

ENVELOPE OPENED, LETTER UNFOLDED

FRELAINE:

(SURPRISED) Wha--?

GALE:

Is - anything wrong, Mr. Frelaine? I mean, everything there? Photographs, address, description data?

FRELAINE:

Yes. But it says Janet-Marie Patzig. Janet-Marie? I've never killed a female. Is this in order?

GALE:

Well, just a moment till I check my list. (BEAT) Yes, that's right. The girl registered with the board under her own free will. The law says she has the same rights and privileges as a man.

FRELAINE:

Could you tell me how many kills she has?

GALE:

Well, I'm sorry, sir, but the only information you're allowed is the Victim's legal status and the descriptive data that you've received.

FRELAINE:

Could I draw another?

GALE:

Well, you can refuse the hunt, of course. That's your legal right. But you'll not be allowed another Victim until you have served.

FRELAINE:

Aw, women! Always trying to horn in on a man's game. Why can't they stay home? Just doesn't seem feminine. Look, uh, Gale, do you mind if I start packing?

GALE:

Oh, no, no, no, no. Go right ahead. If you like, you can give me the Historical Checkout while you pack and I'll just tick it off here on my list.

FRELAINE:

Well, all right. Um, where do you want me to start?

GALE:

Mm, let's see. Question One, I think. When was the Emotional Catharsis Board established?

SOUND:

DURING QUIZ, FRELAINE WALKS AROUND AND PACKS A SUITCASE, IN BG

FRELAINE:

Well, the board was formed at the end of the fourth world war -- or the sixth, depends on if you count the New Argentina War.

GALE:

Well, either count will do. Go ahead.

FRELAINE:

Well, let's see, um-- Weapons increased in magnitude, efficiency and exterminating power. Soldiers became accustomed to them, and it looked as if another war would be the war to end all wars. Will you hand me those shirts, please?

GALE:

The wha--? Oh, yes, of course.

FRELAINE:

So, uh, this time the peace had to last for all time, but the government recognized the presence of a need for violence in a large percentage of mankind. They recognized the validity of competition, love of battle in the face of overwhelming odds, and these, they felt, were admirable traits for the race. So their problem was to arrange a lasting peace that would stop the race from destroying itself, without removing responsible traits. I'll just get a new toothbrush in New York.

GALE:

Very good, very good. All right, Mr. Frelaine, now if you could run down the basic rules.

FRELAINE:

Well, anyone who wants to, signs up with the ECB for a fine, legal murder. Then, of course, he has to take his turn a few months later -- if he survives. The Emotional Catharsis Board picks the Victims' names at random. The Hunter is allowed six months to make his kill. Uhhh--

GALE:

(HELPFUL) Armament?

FRELAINE:

Oh, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah. He's allowed to use a standard caliber pistol. He can wear no armor. Victim is allowed to wear armor, and is allowed to hire spotters.

GALE:

Very good, very good. Now, we don't have to go over the penalties for killing or wounding the wrong man. I'm sure you know all that.

FRELAINE:

(CHUCKLES)

GALE:

Oh, it's a beautiful system, isn't it? All the people who want to kill can -- and that's about one-fourth of the population. Those who don't want to, don't have to. At least, there aren't any more big wars. Just hundreds of thousands of small ones, huh? (CHUCKLES) All right, Mr. Frelaine, you're checked out for orientation.

FRELAINE:

All the same, I don't exactly like the idea of killing a woman. But she did sign up, didn't she?

GALE:

That's right.

FRELAINE:

Janet Patzig in New York. Well, I'll be taking one of our Protec-Suit specials. Have you seen one of these, Mr. Gale? When I actuate the mechanism, watch how fast the gun springs out at the ready.

SOUND:

CLACK! MECHANISM ACTUATED

GALE:

(IMPRESSED) Ooh! Excellent! (LAUGHS) Excellent!

FRELAINE:

(THOUGHTFUL) Ahh, strange, isn't it, Mr. Gale? Each killing is a new excitement. It's something you just don't tire of -- like French pastry or women or drinking or anything else.

GALE:

(CHUCKLES) Yes.

FRELAINE:

(FINISHES PACKING) Ah, let's see. There. I guess that's it. Now, a note for the milkman and - that's about all. Well, I'll be getting along, Mr. Gale.

GALE:

Oh, and-- Good hunting, Mr. Frelaine!

MUSIC:

BRIDGE

SOUND:

TAXICAB ENGINE IDLES, IN BG ... CAB DOOR OPENS ... FRELAINE CLIMBS IN ... CAB DOOR SHUTS

DRIVER:

Where to, chief?

FRELAINE:

Carlton Hotel.

DRIVER:

Carlton? You bet.

SOUND:

CLICK! OF METER ... CAB DRIVES OFF ... ENGINE CONTINUES IN BG

DRIVER:

Just get into town?

FRELAINE:

Is it that noticeable?

DRIVER:

I've been pickin' up from the airport for maybe ten years. I can spot an out-of-town killer by the way he carries his suitcase.

FRELAINE:

Uh, you wouldn't be working as a spotter, would ya?

DRIVER:

Oh, no, no, no. The hack bureau don't like it. (BEAT) This isn't your first kill, I can tell.

FRELAINE:

Yeah?

DRIVER:

Yeah, guys on their first kill get too anxious. They wanna drive right to the Victim's address, walk right into an ambush. I'd say you had maybe five, six--

FRELAINE:

Seven.

DRIVER:

Seven? Well, you haven't got too long to go before you get into the Tens Club.

FRELAINE:

You ever been hunting?

DRIVER:

Nah, I can't afford it.

FRELAINE:

Look, I tell you what. If you can just drive me around the Chelsea area, I'd just like to look at the streets.

DRIVER:

Aha! That's where your Victim hangs out, huh? Sure, sure. Be glad to. (BEAT) You know what you oughta do, mac?

FRELAINE:

Hm?

DRIVER:

You oughta drop in at the Hunter-Hunting Show at the Coliseum. They got everything. Bulletproof vests for Victims, hats with bulletproof crowns. I seen an ad for a Malvern Strait-shot, ECB-approved. Carried a load of twelve shots with a deviation of less than a thousandth inch per thousand feet.

FRELAINE:

Oh, it sounds like a fine gun.

DRIVER:

And they got all kinds of trick things. You know, canes with four-shot magazines, forty-five caliber flashlights -- all kinds of things.

FRELAINE:

Well, those kind of novelties are all right for the first time but the - the old-fashioned ways are the best.

SOUND:

VOLLEY OF GUNSHOTS, SLIGHTLY OFF

DRIVER:

Hey, look at that! Somebody got it!

FRELAINE:

(DISAPPOINTED) Aw, I missed it.

DRIVER:

Eh, nothin' to see now.

FRELAINE:

Mm.

DRIVER:

In about four minutes, the guys from the Department of Sanitation'll carry away the corpse.

FRELAINE:

Yeah.

DRIVER:

Well, this is the neighborhood, chief. You wanna gimme the address?

FRELAINE:

No, no, I'll just drive around.

DRIVER:

Okay. You're payin' the meter.

MUSIC:

BRIDGE

SOUND:

TAXICAB ENGINE CRUISING, THEN IN BG

FRELAINE:

Hey, wait a minute!

DRIVER:

What is it, chief?

FRELAINE:

There. That sidewalk café. You see?

DRIVER:

Yeah. Shall I stop?

FRELAINE:

No. No, just drive slowly.

SOUND:

ENGINE SLOWS ... THEN IN BG

FRELAINE:

There she is. Sitting at a table.

DRIVER:

Ya mean the Victim is a dame?

FRELAINE:

Yeah. She's just sitting there. (PAUSE) She crazy, exposing herself in the open?

DRIVER:

Boy, that's sure no way to stay healthy. Not when you're a Victim.

FRELAINE:

Drive around the block.

DRIVER:

Okay.

SOUND:

ENGINE SPEEDS UP ... FOR A DRIVE AROUND THE BLOCK ... THEN IN BG

FRELAINE:

She looks - younger than her pictures. She looks sad. Wonder if she's been notified?

DRIVER:

Ah, she's gotta be notified, chief. They can't send you your notice until her signed receipt gets back to the office. It's automatic.

FRELAINE:

Yeah, that's right. Isn't she even going to try to defend herself?

DRIVER:

Doesn't look like it. Here we come again. She's still there.

FRELAINE:

Well, all I have to do is just ride by in a cab and pump a bullet into her.

DRIVER:

Okay, chief, I'll go real slow. You be sure to allow for the motion of the car.

FRELAINE:

No, no, no. Park across the street.

DRIVER:

Sure, sure.

SOUND:

CAB PULLS TO CURB ... ENGINE SLOWS TO A STOP

FRELAINE:

Huh. Both her hands are on top of the table. An easy, stationary target. All I got a do is--

SOUND:

CLACK! MECHANISM ACTUATED

DRIVER:

(IMPRESSED) Say! That's some gadget. Hey, er, remember to roll down the window before you shoot that gun, huh?

FRELAINE:

(BEAT, DISAPPOINTED) Naw. Naw, it's an easy shot. It's too easy.

DRIVER:

Uh, look, mister, hurry up, will ya? If a cop comes along and finds you shootin' out of my cab, he'll give me a ticket for double parking.

FRELAINE:

Naw, naw, naw. It's too easy.

SOUND:

CLACK! OF REHOLSTERED GUN

FRELAINE:

All my other six kills have been hard; my Victims have tried every dodge. One of them hired a dozen spotters. I got 'em all; I dressed as a milkman.

DRIVER:

Hey, that's pretty clever.

FRELAINE:

Nah, this wouldn't be a trophy. Here, put your flag up; I'm getting out.

DRIVER:

Okay.

SOUND:

CLICK! OF METER

FRELAINE:

I'm going over to talk to her.

DRIVER:

(AMAZED) She's your Victim!

FRELAINE:

I know, I know. It's too easy this way.

MUSIC:

BRIDGE

SOUND:

CITY TRAFFIC ... THEN IN BG

FRELAINE:

Hello.

JANET:

What?

FRELAINE:

Hey, look. If I'm being fresh, just tell me and I'll go. I'm an out-of-towner here on a convention. I'd just like to talk to somebody. If you'd rather I didn't--

JANET: (UNEMOTIONAL) Oh, I don't care.

FRELAINE:

May I, uh, sit down?

SOUND:

FRELAINE PULLS OUT A CHAIR AND SITS

FRELAINE:

Like to buy you a drink, if I can.

JANET:

I don't care.

FRELAINE: My name is Stanton Frelaine.

JANET:

I'm Janet.

FRELAINE:

Janet what?

JANET:

Janet Patzig.

FRELAINE:

Well, nice to know ya. Are you, uh, doing anything tonight, Janet?

JANET:

I'm probably being killed tonight.

FRELAINE:

Ohhhh. Are - are you a Victim?

JANET: You guessed it. If I were you, I'd stay out of the way. No sense getting hit by mistake.

FRELAINE:

Well, you're - awfully calm about it. Don't you care? Haven't you got any spotters?

JANET:

No. Mr. Frelaine, I'm a bad, bad girl.

FRELAINE:

Yeah?

JANET:

I got the idea I'd like to commit a murder, so I signed for ECB. Then I couldn't do it.

FRELAINE:

(SYMPATHETIC) Oh, I am sorry.

JANET:

But I'm still in, of course, even though I didn't shoot. I still have to be a Victim.

FRELAINE:

Well, why don't you hire some spotters?

JANET:

I couldn't kill anyone. I just couldn't. I don't even have a gun.

FRELAINE:

You've got a lot of courage coming out in the open this way.

JANET:

What can I do? You can't hide from a Hunter. Not a real one. I don't have enough money to make a disappearance.

FRELAINE:

Well, since it's your own defense, I should think that--

JANET:

No. No, I've made up my mind about that. (EMOTIONAL) This whole thing is wrong, this whole system. When I had my Victim in the sights, I saw how easily I could-- I could-- Oh-- (SIGHS) Let's forget it. (WARMLY) I'm glad you talked to me. At least it'll pass the time.

MUSIC:

BRIDGE

SOUND:

RESTAURANT BACKGROUND ... DINERS, UTENSILS, ET CETERA

JANET:

It's been a lovely dinner. Just lovely.

FRELAINE:

Well, I'm glad you liked it. I usually stop at this little place when I'm in New York.

JANET:

Do you come in often?

FRELAINE:

Oh, on business. I'm in clothing, you know. What do you do?

JANET:

Oh, I'm an actress. (SHORT LAUGH) Well, that's a laugh. I'm not really an actress. I'd like to be an actress but none of the producers seem to see it that way.

FRELAINE:

How old are ya?

JANET:

Twenty-two. I've only been in New York for a year.

FRELAINE:

Uh, you know, you're - you're really being very foolish just sitting out in the open that way. Why, your Hunter could come along and just pump a bullet into you.

JANET:

I know, I know. But, somehow, I feel safe with you.

FRELAINE:

(BEAT, DOWN) Oh. (UP) Say, er, Janet, would you like to go the Gladiatorials with me tonight? We've got about twenty minutes. We'd only miss the opening numbers.

JANET:

Well -- I suppose so. Might as well, huh? "Eat, drink and be merry..."

MUSIC:

BRIDGE

SOUND:

STADIUM CROWD BACKGROUND

FRELAINE:

You know, I'm a little disappointed.

JANET:

Why?

FRELAINE:

Oh, I thought the New York Gladiatorials would be something special. It's about the same as Cleveland -- historical events, swordsmen and netmen, duels with sabers and foil.

JANET:

Isn't there any difference?

FRELAINE:

Well, the Duel to the Death is the same in Cleveland as it is in New York.

JANET:

You know, that's funny. I used to think the Gladiatorials were very exciting. Now they just make me a little sick.

FRELAINE:

Well, you can get tired of the best of shows. Frankly, I think it was a mistake starting to televise the Gladiatorials. It cut down on the box office, for one thing, and, for another, it isn't the same as being right there in the stadium, you know?

JANET:

No. No, it isn't.

FRELAINE:

Well, uh, want to stay for the second half? Let me see, they've got, um -- hm! -- bull fighting, lion fighting, bow and arrow, and dueling on the high wire.

JANET:

No. I've had about enough.

FRELAINE:

All right. Shall I take you home?

JANET:

Would you, please?

MUSIC:

BRIDGE

JANET:

Sit down. I'll fix you a drink.

FRELAINE:

(BEAT) Janet?

JANET:

What?

FRELAINE:

You're crying, aren't you?

JANET:

Oh. No, no, not really. It's just the thought that any minute, from anywhere, a bullet can come crashing into me. It makes me feel so - so soft and helpless.

FRELAINE:

(TENDERLY) You are soft. (PASSIONATE, WHISPERS) Oh, Janet.

JANET:

You - you're leaving New York soon?

FRELAINE:

I suppose so. Convention's only lasting another day.

JANET:

I'll be sorry to see you go. Send roses to my funeral.

FRELAINE:

(DECISIVE) Janet--

JANET:

What?

FRELAINE:

Janet, I don't want you to be killed.

JANET:

There's not anything you can do about it, is there?

FRELAINE:

Janet, I love you.

JANET:

(OVERCOME) Oh, Stan!

FRELAINE:

What is it? What is it? Please, darling--

JANET:

(TEARFUL) But you - you can't. You can't love me. I'm a Victim. I won't live long enough to--

FRELAINE:

You won't be killed, Janet. Listen to me, Janet darling. I'm your Hunter.

JANET:

(STUNNED) Are you - are you going to kill me?

FRELAINE:

Don't be ridiculous. Darling, I'm going to marry you.

JANET:

Oh, Stan, Stan, my darling--! All the waiting-- I've been so frightened--

FRELAINE: It's all over, it's all over. Think what a story it'll make for our kids, huh?

JANET:

Oh, darling--

FRELAINE:

How I came to - to murder you, and left marrying you.

JANET:

Oh, Stan, kiss me. (LONG DEEP KISS, THEN EXHALES HAPPILY) Oh. Oh, I - I think I'd better have a cigarette.

FRELAINE:

Uh uh. Let's start packing. I want to get--

JANET:

No, wait. You haven't asked if - I love you.

FRELAINE:

What?

JANET:

(SWEETLY) You haven't admired my cigarette lighter.

FRELAINE:

(AMUSED) What are you talking about?

JANET:

It's a lovely lighter, isn't it? With a small hole in the bottom. Just large enough for a thirty-eight caliber bullet.

FRELAINE:

Now, now, now, don't--

JANET:

I'm not being funny, darling.

FRELAINE:

But, Janet-- (QUICKLY) Janet, Janet, I love you. I told you I love you. What's the matter with you?

JANET:

I don't love you, Stanton. (CHUCKLES) I am a good actress, aren't I? Even though the producers don't think so.

FRELAINE:

(REALIZES) You - you knew all along.

JANET:

Yes, of course. (QUICK, HARD) Don't reach for that.

SOUND:

BANG! POINT BLANK GUNSHOT

FRELAINE:

(GROANS)

SOUND:

FRELAINE'S BODY FALLS HARD TO THE FLOOR

FRELAINE:

(IN PAIN) Janet--? Janet--?

JANET:

(SWEETLY) Yes, darling?

SOUND:

BANG! BANG! TWO FINAL GUNSHOTS -- THE COUP DE GRACE

JANET:

(LAUGHS MERRILY) Well, now I can join the Tens Club!

MUSIC:

TO A FINISH

ANNOUNCER:

You have just heard "X Minus One," presented by the National Broadcasting Company in cooperation with Galaxy Science Fiction Magazine which this month features "Once a Greech" by Evelyn E. Smith. The mildest of men, Iversen, was capable of murder ... to disprove Harkaway's hypothesis that in the midst of life, we are in life. Galaxy Magazine, on your newsstand today.

MUSIC:

CLOSING THEME SNEAKS IN BEHIND--

ANNOUNCER:

Tonight, "X Minus One" has brought you "The Seventh Victim," a story from the pages of Galaxy written by Robert Sheckley and adapted for radio by Ernest Kinoy. Featured in the cast -- Lawson Zerbe as Frelaine, Teri Keane as Janet, his killer; Frank Maxwell as the cab driver; Ian Martin as Immanuel Gale of the Emotional Catharsis Bureau; Irv West as Frelaine's spotter and Arthur Hughes as his business partner. Your announcer, Fred Collins. "X Minus One" was directed by Kenneth MacGregor and is an NBC Radio Network production.

MUSIC:

TO A FINISH ... NBC CHIMES


X Minus One's "How 2"...old time radio offering #1

X Minus One's "Student Body"...old time radio offering #2

X Minus One's "A Gun for Dinosaur"...old time radio offering #3

X Minus One's "Tunnel Under the World"...old time radio offering #4

X Minus One's "Junkyard"...old time radio offering #5

X Minus One's "Marionettes, Inc."...old time radio offering #6

X Minus One's "Skulking Permit"...old time radio offering #7

X Minus One's "Something for Nothing"...old time radio offering #8

X Minus One's "Project Mastodon"...old time radio offering #9

X Minus One's "The Veldt"...old time radio offering #10

X Minus One's "The Coffin Cure"...old time radio offering #11

X Minus One's "The Defenders"...old time radio offering #12


X Minus One's "Knock"...old time radio offering #13

X Minus One's "Protection"...old time radio offering #14

X Minus One's "The Snowball Effect"...old time radio offering #15

X Minus One's "First Contact"...old time radio offering #16