Thursday, March 27, 2014

Crime and the City Solution

Poking around the comics/graphic novel section at work the other day, I found CRIME, a big bound volume of '50s crime comics. With a title like that, you gotta take a look.

The library has a few bound collections like this - big color reprints of horror and crime comics that caused a stink in the '50s. Enough of a stink that there were Senate hearings and comic burnings.
They're not even storing them in plastic sleeves before burning them!
Soon rock and roll would take the heat for juvenile delinquency and fun, and comics were off the hook for a while.

As a librarian and a fan of entertainment with no redeeming social value, I've always been against the censors and banners of the world. And who the hell gets that worked up over some comic books, anyway?

Well, uh...maybe those squares from the '50s had a point. Holy crap, were those things gory. You've probably seen stuff from the horror comics, where bad people get their ironic comeuppance, like a greedy guy gets drowned in molten gold or whatever. The funny thing is, a lot of the 'bad' people didn't really deserve their fates. Like, for the crime of dancing with another man a woman gets mummified by her jealous husband, or a guy who is rude to waiters gets eaten by vampires. Kinda makes getting your hand cut off for stealing seem quaint.

That's to be expected in horror comics. What I didn't expect was how gory the crime comics were. Everybody's getting machine gunned or stabbed or shot on just about every page, all in beautiful detail. As in the horror comics, there is a moral at the end, where the criminal is either shot or led to the electric chair or noose. All of this is illustrated with lots of bright red blood, popping eyeballs and jumping tears of sweat.

I suppose the publishers could say that by demonstrating that crime doesn't pay, the comics were actually moral instruction. Possibly, although the only instruction I've gotten out of them so far is some cool slang, like, "Aw, go peddle a herring," and "Wot a night, baby! Dancin' wit you is like wrasslin' with a feather!" Which is answered with "Yeah, Slug! Ain't that music the nuts?" Look for me to drop those phrases in conversation the next time we run into each other. It'll be the nuts.

So with all this gore, violence, and outdated slang, I have to give CRIME Googoomuck's highest recommendation. Five stars, two thumbs up, 12 tommy guns blazing. Seriously, it's the nuts.

No comments: