Hello and sorry I got this up late.
As the post title says, this is the third time I forgot to get off of my ass last night. In an unrelated move, I figured I'd post something a little different. Here we see an image from Boy Illustories #25. This isn't the cover,; the cover has a guy in a devil suit throwing knives at Crimebuster while a lady watches. Like, Crimebuster interrupted the devil's knife-throwing act and the lady was the assistant.
This comic was printed in December 1945, written and drawn by Charles Biro and the comic-buying audience at that time was more than ready for images like this. An image like this says "You're going to see this guy try to hang himself, and then Crimebuster's gonna bust in with an axe and try to save him!" In other words, Charles Biro was trying to give the audience their money's worth.
It's the moralizing in the caption that strikes me. Charles Biro was publishing another comic at the time called "Crime Does Not Pay". In that comic, Charles Biro told true crime stories and showed how petty, stupid, and brutish criminals regularly were.
Above these paragraphs, in that little orange circle where the dialog is, Charles Biro rails against the common criminal's missing sense of honor. Later on in Boy Illustories, this sense of anger against crime kinda disappears. I believe this is because Charles Biro and Lev Gleason publishing were another casualty of the Dr. Frederic Wertham thing, and the comics code that the US imposed on comic creators.
Part of the comics code (adopted in full in 1954, nine years after this guy tried to hang himself) was
The letters of the word “crime” on a comics-magazine cover shall never be appreciably greater in dimension than the other words contained in the title. The word “crime” shall never appear alone on a cover.
There's a good piece here that presents the complete comics code if you're interested, but I think Biro had to stop publishing "Crime does not pay" because of this stuff. Either that, or people lost interest in a comic where no one hanged themselves.
Obviously, I disagree with the comics code. My comic contains several elements that the comics code does not approve of, specifically
General Standards, Part B
- (2) All scenes of horror, excessive bloodshed, gory or gruesome crimes, depravity, lust, sadism, masochism shall not be permitted.
Marriage and Sex
- (1) Profanity, obscenity, smut, vulgarity, or words or symbols which have acquired undesirable meanings are forbidden.
- (2) Illicit sex relations are neither to be hinted at nor portrayed. Violent love scenes as well as sexual abnormalities are unacceptable.
- (5) Passion or romantic interest shall never be treated in such a way as to stimulate the lower and baser emotions.
- (6) Seduction and rape shall never be shown or suggested.
...as well as basically everything in General Standards Part A. The thing is, I didn't set out to intentionally violate any of these standards: they were all part of the story I wanted to tell. If I adopted these standards, the story would be impossible to tell. (Well, not impossible. But that stuff about never even suggesting rape, I don't see any easy paths to fudge my way through that one.)
That's why I'm pretty much a free-speech absolutist, especially when it comes to fictional stories. Especially comics! As Robert Crumb said, they're just lines on paper, folks! Stories give us a chance to look at ourselves and our behavior from another plane, almost like we're gods looking down on a bunch of foolish mortals, and that's an important psychological exercise. Who'd want to censor that?
Did you know you can buy my book, which doesn't have any of this foolish ranting in it? Go ahead, you can order a copy of my comic book today!