Monday, April 14, 2008

Number 290

Hangman and the Executioner

Correspondent 1506NixNix sent me these scans from Hangman Comics #3 and commented, "Hard to believe this bloody stuff is from the same guys who came up with Archie and Betty and Veronica." For the few of you out there who might be unaware, MLJ, publisher of Hangman Comics, became the Archie Comics publishing company.

The racism is that of its era, typical of American attitudes toward Asians in 1942, and especially our then-enemies, the Japanese. The graphic gore is the sort of thing that got noticed by the bluenoses in the early days of comics. MLJ, showing its pulp origins, didn't have a monopoly on violence, but in this example they did it with flair, that's for sure. Grand Comics Database says the art is by Mort Leav ? and John Cassone ? which I guess means they think it might be, maybe, kinda, probably those artists. Whatever. The art is done skillfully, and is all the more effective for it.


Karswell said...

Bloody beheadings Pappy!!! This has been one of my favorite stories you've posted! First off I LOVE the art so yeah, whoever is actually responsible is awesome. So many cool things about this entry, the ultra violence of course is still shocking even in 2008. It's funny how they have no worries showing the gory decapitations but steer way clear of actually showing the guy get his arm chopped off. The foamy mouth close-up of The Executioner on page 11 looks like Gene Colan imitating Basil Wolverton or something. And by the way, where does The Executioner keep all those axes he's throwing around? Or are they like boomerang axes that come back to him?

I have a few problems with The Hangman, his costume for one is pretty silly, plus he gets knocked out twice in this story and nobody ever thinks to unmask him. And the thing with the gallows shadow, is that something The Hangman projects to frighten his foes?

Every once in awhile I see Tokyo spelled Tokio in old comics, did I miss something in nip history class?

Pappy said...

Tokyo is now the preferred spelling, but Tokio was once used, like Peking is now Beijing.

Mr. Cavin said...

But that's no excuse for spelling it both ways in the very same story.

The Vicar of VHS said...

Yeah, the Hangman is actually pretty lame, isn't he? Easily distracted by a phone call, needs the feisty newspaper girl to go give him a glass of water and rub his head to revive him--and what, he's been lying there on the deck THE WHOLE TIME she's investigating the other stuff?

These wartime stereotypes are definitely shocking to a modern reader, but obviously it's part of the history. I was watching some of the 1940s Batman serials recently and there was an episode where the narrator began, "After a WISE government imprisoned all the shifty-eyed Japs, Asiantown was quiet and mostly deserted..." Wow.

I admit I'd like to see more of Captain Swastika. Is that wrong?