Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Number 40

Charlie Biro's Hobby Is Boys

Charles Biro was a popular guy in the 1940s. He made publishers a lot of money with his covers, his characters, and his comic books. He's responsible for many, including the original Daredevil, Airboy, and probably his biggest success story, Crime Does Not Pay. He also had a very popular title, Boy Comics, which ran for years,

In Boy Comics #30, co-editor Bob Wood writes of Biro, "Boys are his hobby." Sixty years ago that wasn't the loaded statement it is now. The language has changed, and so descriptions of Biro having "tongue-fests," or "getting the biggest rise" out of boys didn't mean to readers of the era what they look like to readers of ours.

According to some reports I've read about Biro (who died in the early 1970s), he was a guy who had a lot of success with women. On the other hand, Bob Wood, his aforementioned co-editor, was a guy who apparently liked to hit women, and it cost him a prison sentence in the 1950s when he killed one during a drunken binge.

Crimebuster himself was a character I never particularly liked, although I have several issues of the comic in my collection. Any youngster who puts a cape over a hockey uniform and runs around with a monkey named Squeeks, well…I dunno…the whole premise sounded pretty stupid to me. To a lot of kids it must've seemed great, because Boy Comics, starring Crimebuster, was a good-selling comic book.

One thing came out of Boy Comics, and that was one of the all time great comic book villains, Iron Jaw, the guy with the metal dentures. Language has changed enough that nowadays "he'll bite your head off" doesn't mean literally biting a head off, as Iron Jaw was known to do.

1 comment: said...

I don't know where editors and publishers actually got the idea that boys more easily imagined themselves as boy heroes, and thus would rather read about Robin than about the Batman, or about Bucky than about Captain America, but sales figures show that has never been true, and it's easily explained why not — even if the boy hero isn't dressed as Elfie the Wonder-Lad, the problem is that, typically, it's too late to become a boy with such attributes, whereas a boy can still imagine becoming a heroic man.