The conscience lesson
In 2006 I clipped a "Crankshaft" Sunday comic by Tom Batiuk and Chuck Ayers. It was a reminder of my own youth. I bought Dick Tracy every month. The character, Jeff, mentions reading his old Dick Tracy comics about the killer Flattop Jr. The cover in the strip is Harvey Comics #129, from 1958, the first of a 4-issue continued story.
Flattop Jr is an inventive guy. He has a tricked-out car with a refrigerator, hot plate, and all the comforts of home. He can live in his car if he needs to, and he needs to after running into Joe Period, a juvenile delinquent on the lam with Dick Tracy on his trail.
For our purposes I'm only showing the last two issues of the story arc, #'s 131 and 132, which are about the girl Skinny, and Flattop Jr, her murderer.
Using artistic license, Chester Gould showed Flattop Jr's conscience in a ghost-like form. Mom told me from an early age about my conscience. I shouldn't do anything bad because my conscience would bother me. While having a conscience might have seemed an abstract concept before reading this, Gould made it something real to me. The images of Skinny passively tormenting Flattop Jr by hanging around his neck were powerful to me. She loved him, he killed her.
Conscience point scored, Mom!
(Some panels from the sequence showing the murder of Skinny. These panels, from August 1 and August 2, 1956, were edited out of the Harvey comic, probably because of the Comics Code. The daily newspaper version seems restrained, also, indicating rather than showing her being thrown off the roof. This might have been a spillover from the comic book controversy just a couple of years earlier. I scanned these black and white strips from the Shel Dorf edited