Monday, August 24, 2009
Case of the Counterfeit Cigs
Two things make this short story interesting: Madman Mort Drucker's artwork, and the subject matter, cigarettes.
Yes, folks, there was a time when cigarette smoking was not viewed with utter disdain and loathing. For my international readers, in America smoking is still a legal activity, up to a point. When I started smoking in 1967 I could go anywhere, walk into a retail establishment, store or restaurant, and be able to pull out a cigarette and start puffing away. That began to change, and by the time I quit in 1977 the road to pariahdom for smokers was being paved with clean air ordinances, health warnings, and the dirty looks of passersby.
When I see working folks taking a smoke break, outside under awnings or in doorways as it rains or snows, I cringe. I remember my own cigarette jones very well.
I have only one word for the miserable huddled masses, having to go outdoors to puff: QUIT. The writing on the wall, or should I say the smoke signals, tell you that society has decreed that in the social pecking order smokers are only slightly above criminals.
This story is from DC Comics' Gang Busters #51, a Comics Code-approved story from 1956. In "The Case of the Counterfeit Cigarettes" the fictional cigarette company is not the villain, but the innocent victim of counterfeiting.
By coincidence, the Vanity Fair magazine web site currently has an article on North Korea's government sanctioned program of counterfeiting, both U.S. currency (called supernotes) and cigarettes. You can read the article here.