Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Number 49

Bonnie Parker

Bonnie Parker and Clyde Barrow were 1930's Depression-era outlaws who earned 15 minutes of fame, which has now lasted over 70 years. This story from Crime Does Not Pay #57, November 1947, tells their story…sort of.

Bonnie wasn't really a cigar smoker. That was a prop she used for a photo. The Barrow Gang took a lot of pictures of themselves, and like most people, sometimes they gagged it up. In the end Bonnie and Clyde were killed by a hail of bullets, but it was in an ambush by lawmen, not because they blundered into a situation where they got killed for opening fire on unsuspecting cops. I suspect that even in 1947 when this story was published the editors didn't think a story with cops lying in wait to assassinate people was appropriate. Not even for a crime comic. After all, the idea of Crime Does Not Pay was to show that crime, well, doesn't pay, not that lawmen could sometimes get as down and dirty as the criminals they were hunting.

Bryan Burrough, who wrote the 2005 book, Public Enemies, didn't think much of Bonnie and Clyde. He said of them: "Murderous children who longed for the big time, Bonnie and Clyde have garnered an artistic and cultural relevance in death they never found or deserved in life."

George Tuska, longtime comic book artist, illustrated the story. Tuska worked for comics from the late '30s until the 1970s when he retired. He had an illustrative style perfect for this type of story. He ended his career drawing superheroes for Marvel Comics. I didn't think that was his forte, but I loved his work in Crime Does Not Pay.

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