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Wednesday, June 17, 2009


Number 542



Kirby's Kansas City Massacre


Since Jack Kirby was great at everything he drew it's no surprise that his crime comics stories are great, also. Maybe it's because he grew up in Hell's Kitchen, but he seemed to really know bad guys. His action-filled drawings were perfect for tales of killers and outlaws. He drew many crime stories in the 1940s at the peak of the crime comics craze, and he also probably felt the heat from a dismayed public, led by Fredric Wertham, M.D., who thought crime comics were contributing to juvenile delinquency.

What the hell. Wertham could've admitted some crime comics were well drawn, at least.

The Kansas City Massacre is famous in the history of the FBI and that lawless era of the early 1930s. The crime comics all covered it extensively. I read up on the K.C. Massacre and Kirby's version is fairly accurate, hitting the high points of the incident. Verne Miller actually didn't end up dead in a bathtub, but in a ditch. These "true" stories always use some artistic license.

The scans are from Headline Comics #26, 1947.








3 comments:

Tamfos said...

My, God! This is beautiful! From the little details, to the big in- your-face action, to the constantly varying page layouts that keep the energy building! It's beyond redundant to say this, but Kirby was a genius.

Oh, and if there's anybody out there who can't appreciate a line like "Stop the fuss..." from a man addressing the guy whom he's beating to death in a bathtub, well then, there's something wrong with all of us.

Pappy said...

I like this type of Kirby story as much as his super-hero stuff. Jack was at home in gritty reality as well as cosmic fantasy. Kirby did storyboards for animation near the end of his career. This story could be used as a storyboard for live action. His work was very cinematic and he made it look so easy.

darkmark90 said...

An hellaciously good Kirby story. He was always good at just about everything, as you noted, and his crime stories are a treat. More, please. (Wouldn't mind seeing some Bull's-Eye, either.)