Sunday, July 04, 2010
King of Crime
Happy Independence Day, mah fellow Americans...
Will Eisner's Uncle Sam character seemed like a natural for a nation anxious about going to war, as America was before Pearl Harbor. Uncle Sam, a symbol of patriotism, was in Eisner's hands a mystical character, a soldier from America's Revolutionary War who, quoting Don Markstein's Toonopedia, "...envisioned American freedom so strongly, his soul, instead of moving on, merged with the Spirit of Liberty, and remained on Earth to fight for that cause. As history sped by, Uncle Sam manifest himself repeatedly, lending his strength whenever his country needed him."
As a character Uncle Sam comics didn't last through World War II. Maybe it had something to do with the stories which, even for comic books, seem over the top. In Uncle Sam #1, where this story originated, the first story, shown in Pappy's #625, there's a plot to replace government officials, including the president, with doubles...that's after selling America's children into slavery. In this story the King of Crime founds the "State of Rex", where all the crooks go to hide.
In my opinion, crooks don't really need to hide; they just need effective camouflage. Put on a tie, look like regular guys, go to work in a bank or on Wall Street!
Yes, as through this world I've wandered
I've seen lots of funny men;
Some will rob you with a six-gun,
And some with a fountain pen.
--Woody Guthrie, "The Ballad of Pretty Boy Floyd"
According to the Grand Comics Database Will Eisner did the splash page and Lou Fine inked it; the GCD doesn't know who did pages 2-14.