Friday, October 02, 2009

Number 603

Starr of the comics

I love these psychiatric stories. It's not known much outside my family, but I've been under the care of a shrink for so long my head is now the size of a golf ball. Here in the Happy Hours Home the staff let me flail away at a keyboard, allowing me to do this blog. It distracts me, keeps me from becoming dangerous. Nights of the full moon are especially bad. Must...keep...busy...arrrrgh.

Crime Clinic was a Ziff-Davis comic that starred a psychiatrist. In this issue, #10, July-August 1951, Dr. Tom Rogers analyzes one of the most famous American gangland killers, Vincent "Mad Dog" Coll. It's drawn by Leonard Starr, who had a sterling career not only in comic books, but moved on to syndicated comic strips, Mary Perkins On Stage, and even revived Little Orphan Annie in the late '70s. Starr had an excellent and slick illustration style, and it shows in this tale of a machine-gunning madman.

If you'll excuse me, it's time for lunch. Doctor said if I promise not to shoot it back out my nose he'll let me have some chocolate pudding for dessert.


Unknown said...


So you're the one that keeps chasing me out of the computer room with a rolled up copy of Millie the Model...

Wonderful atrwork, just a shame that somebody spoiled it with all those balloons. I'm all for dialog when it's needed but you could probably tell this story with a lot less verbiage.

Still a great find though.

BEMaven said...

I bet Mary Worth could have saved Mad Dog.

Incidentally, Dementia Praecox was the medical term initially used to describe the condition now labeled as Schizophrenia. The phrase fell out of use by the time this comic was published.

And I must quibble with the diagnosis of Dr. Rogers. Schizophrenia is characterized by a gradual breakdown of a patient's mental processes. It doesn't automatically result in criminal behavior.

Clinically speaking, I would classify Mad Dog as a Lug. Sadly, there was no effective treatment for chronic Lugness.

Alexi Frest said...

Wow, schizophrenia is MY specialisation!! I'm the schizoid/borderline here! And I dare say it comes in handy when you write something like horror.

** Congratulations anyway. Fine comics!

Pappy said...

BEM, I should be more sensitive about the condition known as schizophrenia, which is widely misunderstood. I have a family member who is schizophrenic and still manages to live a (mostly) normal life when he is on his medication. It's a story many families share, unfortunately.

Tamfos said...

Starr was amazing! Not only could he draw anything, and from any perspective, but look at all the info he gets into a single panel! I don't know if people who don't draw realize how impossible it is to do what Starr is doing here on a 6 panel page.

BEMaven said...

It wasn't my intention to make fun of real-life mental illness. I have a cousin who is currently on disability due to bipolar disorder. And my employer's extended family includes someone who is being treated for schizophrenia.

I was merely commenting on the trend towards armchair psychology by comic book publishers in the Fifties.