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Monday, July 29, 2013

Number 1410: Baby Face, you've got the deadest little baby face...

Lester Gillis, AKA Baby Face Nelson, died after a shootout with FBI agents in November, 1934. I heard the story of Baby Face early in my life from my father. It helped form my fascination with the early ’30s motor-gangsters who robbed banks and ran wild. The best account I’ve read of this lawless era is Public Enemies by Bryan Burrough. The book was made into a movie but focused mostly on John Dillinger (and got a lot of details wrong, including Baby Face’s death).

This particular version of the death of Baby Face, drawn by Jack Kirby for Headline Comics #23 (1947), is also loose with the details, editing the story considerably. But the thing that makes this particular crime comic so desirable is it is all Simon and Kirby, full of action, guns and gangsters,









6 comments:

Brian Barnes said...

Wikipedia says he died later, in a bed, in his hideout. Not nearly as dramatic!

I always wonder about the slang in these things; we know that movies and comics most of the time had strange notions of what slang was really in use. It certainly "reads" gangster, though it might not be precise at all.

Keir said...

This post got me looking up Nelson on Wikipedia, and then Chase to see if he'd really existed. Then Dillinger which led me to reinvestigate whether or not that had been him killed which then led me to watch Discovery Channel's Death asks where they use computer animation to bring life to these masks and then... it's getting on to 23.00 and I'm still going...

Daniel [oeconomist.com] said...

A couple of deviations that I note are referring to “John Paul Chase” as “John Paul Case”, and taking-away the man's hair.

Pappy said...

Here's something I didn't mention in the post...Nelson died after a gun battle in which he killed my mother's cousin, FBI special agent Sam Cowley. He died along with a fellow agent at Nelson's hand. The mortally wounded Nelson lived long enough to die in bed, at which time his widow and an accomplice threw him into a ditch, where his body was found.

My mother, about 13 years old at the time, attended Cowley's funeral with my grandmother in Salt Lake City.

Pappy said...

Brian, both Simon and Kirby grew up in that era and I believe they would have known the slang of the day.

James Kirk said...

All I have to say is....we need to see more of this Simon and Kirby material. The minute I saw this was drawn by Kirby, I wanted to read it. Kirby's non-super-hero work was just as good. Any chance of us seeing more Simon and Kirby, Crime Does Not Pay, comics?