Sunday, January 31, 2010

Number 676

Hangman hung up

"Gallows Ghoul," expertly illustrated by Bob ("Fuje") Fujitani for the Fall 1943 issue of Hangman Comics #8, is a morbid murder tale partially rewritten, probably because it was too morbid. The clumsy re-lettering in certain captions and speech balloons looks like a last minute attempt to mitigate the horrors of a man killing his wife and then throwing his young son out the window of a tall building. I'm reading between the lines, but changing the murdered woman to a "half-sister" of killer Ed Jennings, and the boy into the half-sister's son doesn't make sense. Just do what I did and substitute the word "wife" for "half-sister." I don't think killing one's half-sister is any more acceptable than one's wife, but it appears that somebody had second thoughts about this story and made the changes before this issue went to press.

The stereotype of mental illness is pretty sickening, also, but it isn't untypical of the era in which it was published.

Hard to believe that MLJ Comics, which published some of the more lurid and sensational comic books of its era, did an about-face and went with the much less objectionable Archie characters. I'm sure a character like Hangman, and stories like "Gallows Ghoul," put the company under scrutiny by censorious types. MLJ made the right choice, since Archie has sustained them to this day.


Lysdexicuss said...

Frank Miller Daredevil work bears a strong resemblance to Fuje's Hangman; whether he was influenced or not. It is also more advanced in many ways than Will Eisner's stuff from this same period.

Pappy said...

Fujitani's artwork of this era looks influenced by Lou Fine and Eisner.

He made some style changes over a couple of decades. This Hangman story doesn't look anything like his 1962 work on Doctor Solar for Gold Key.

Nicholas Burns said...

I believe Fujitani was working in Eisner's shop, along with Lou Fine, at the time this story was drawn. Fujitani was a huge admirer of Lou Fine's work.


I've never seen his work in the
60's, but everything I've ever seen by him from the golden age is darn good! I loved the art on this one!

prof. grewbeard said...

that splash page is horrifying! how did they get away with that?!? love the art, though.

Mark said...

I would guess that the editor who had the villain changed thought that a kid reading the story (or a parent looking at junior's comic books) would be more disturbed by the thought of daddy murdering the family than having the family murdered by a creepy uncle.

Jeff Overturf said...

The linework in this is incredibly beautiful.

Thanks as always for spotlighting some gorgeous stuff that's much overlooked!

Kirk Jusko said...

Forget wife, why a half-sister and not a full-sister? That's another morally acceptable death?

Rhetorical question, unless you actually know the answer.