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Just Got Back from a Thousand Mile Car Trip

Note: for the next couple of weeks we'll be looking at a classic Crimebuster story written by Charles Biro and drawn by Norman Maurer. If you want to see the Crimebuster story The Case of the Lacrosse Rape Hoax, go on and click! Issue #2 will start up online in February 2017!

Hi, Everyone! I apologize for the late post, but yesterday I had just driven from Lincoln Nebraska to Chicago Illinois, and the day before that, I had just driven from Denver Colorado to Lincoln Nebraska, and I was surprised to find that I was in no mood to post a new page.

But now we find ourselves looking at a man from 1946 imagining the perfect household for a young orphaned boy. We see the circular inset panel in the top row apparently this used to be used a lot in the 1940s comic books, and now, not so much. For myself, the circular panel seems quaint, almost nostalgic. Maybe that has something to do with my experience as a comics reader, but the circular inset panel is like watching the circular spot transition on a movie it was used so often in the early black and white films that it can't be used unironically. Here, though, the circle panel is un-ironic.

Something else, too, in third row bottom left, we see another Norman Maurer silhouette. Take a gander - you will see the oddness. First, the policeman's shadow doesn't appear at all, which means he wants us to look at the boy's shadow. Second, it's like the silhouettes Norman Maurer uses, he picks their shape because they can disorient the reader, their shapes can suggest things that the "real" human beings in the panel do not. I don't know, it's like here, the boy's shadow suggests he's floating, or maybe that his back is arched in a weird way.

Comic transcript

Mr. Nelson, Tommy's new father through adoption from the Bright Hills Orphanage, takes Tommy to his new house in a residential neighborhood. Tommy exclaims "Gee, this is swell! Imagine living in a real house! There are lots of things I can do for you around here, Mr. N..." Tommy stops himself, remembering that Mr. Nelson had asked him to call him "Dad". Tommy completes the sentence "..I mean, Dad! I'm good at gardening and I learned a lot about carpentry!"

Mr. Nelson, an older man with white hair, smiles and replies, "Now, son, I didn't adopt you to work for me! I wanted a boy around so I could feel as if I had a family! All I want you to do is have a good time!"

Inside a circular panel, Tommy sees a bed and smiles broadly. "A bedroom all my own! This is really wonderful!" he says.

Mr. Nelson, indulgently looking on, says "Glad you feel like that, Tom! Get some sleep and I'll show you more tomorrow! I have to go to work now, but I'll be back by the time you wake up in the morning!" Strangely, Mr. Nelson adds, "And don't worry, you're good and safe here! Goodnight, son!"

Mr. Nelson departs to change his clothes for work, and Tommy goes to bed. Through an open doorway, Tommy sees Mr. Nelson hang a holstered pistol from a doorknob.

In Tommy's head, he imagines Mr. Nelson in a dark alley, pointing the gun at a man in a green suit and snarling "Empty your pockets!"

Mr. Nelson goes down a darkened staircase into a dark room. Turning back, he calls out to Tommy "Goodnight, Tommy! I'm leaving now!"

Tommy leaps out of bed yelling "No! No! Wait!" He catches up with Mr. Nelson in the darkened hallway. Tommy implores "Please! Don't do it, Dad! Please don't! If the home finds out they'll take me away from you, and I don't want to leave you! I'll go to work or anything if you'll only go straight!" Mr. Nelson raises an eyebrow and says "What on earth..."

Mr. Nelson turns on the light with a loud "Click", creating a startling shadow on the wall for Tommy, and Tommy says "Wh... Oh, Dad! I saw the gun and I thought..."

Tommy hugs the man wearing the solid blue uniform with the badge. "Gee, you're a policeman!" says Tommy, "Oh, gee willikers! I should have known a guy as swell as you couldn't be bad!"

Smiling indulgently, Mr. Nelson says "There now, Tommy. I should have told you in the first place! You poor kid, seeing my gun and thinking I was a gangster! C'mon now, I'll walk you up to bed!"

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