Sunday, February 24, 2013

Number 1321: Pappy’s Crime Wave shot down!

A few months ago I had an idea. I have a lot of crime comics, with a lot of stories to show. I noticed there were no blogs specifically showing crime comics*, so I thought I’d be the one to do it. I got to a certain point in my plan, but then, like a lot of things, I ran out of steam. I’ve got about all I can handle with this blog, folks, and some other projects I work on that aren’t comics related. So the idea for a crime comics blog ended up in my almost-but-not-quite-completed file. However, during a flurry of energy I worked up a masthead. I'm not one to waste anything so I’ve decided this week we’ll have a theme week, Pappy’s Crime Wave, where I’ll show the first week's postings that were scheduled for the blog that never was.

First up, the introductory story for the newspaper comic strip, Kerry Drake by Alfred Andriola. Andriola, once an assistant to Milton Caniff, was given the Charlie Chan comic strip to do, then he took over the Dan Dunn comic strip as competition for Dick Tracy. That led to Kerry Drake, which debuted during the war year of 1943. A-1 Comics from Magazine Enterprises (ME) reprinted the initial continuity in this unnumbered comic under the masthead of A-1 Comics in 1944.

I first read the story in the mid-1980s in Blackthorne’s exceptional squarebound trade paperbacks, which went five issues. I take them out every once in a while and re-read some of the stories. If you get a chance to pick up this series I recommend it.

Kerry Drake is the good guy, but we know we're more interested in the bad guy, Fingers. He's a prison escapee who holds a young farm couple hostage. It’s the same type of storytelling (the strip was written by an uncredited Allen Saunders) that later brought down heat on Crime Does Not Pay and other crime comic books. For the sensitive, there is a scene of Fingers killing a dog with his bare hands; there is the near-rape of the pretty young farm wife, Zella, and there is torture by acid. You’ve been warned!

*Not that I was aware of at the time, that is. See the comments section for a note on a couple of blogs covering the subject.


Keir said...

Wow, that was a long, convoluted story. Having to upload all that, it's no wonder you've no time for anything else. The masking of Drake's face was a bit weird (yet reminiscent of Lazenby's Bond in OHMSS) as if "My God- he's got grey hair!"

BrittReid said...

With all due respect...
"I noticed there were no blogs specifically showing crime comics..."
How about Crime & Punishment™?
Seduction of the Innocent™
(which does some horror along with the crime comics)? ;-)

Kirk said...

Great art, exciting story. Almost forgot about Kerry Drake. Thanks for reminding me.

Pappy said...

Britt Reid, I'll amend my text to read "...that I was aware of." I had not seen those two blogs you mention, but I now have added them to my links column.

Tedley said...

Thanks for introducing me to Kerry Drake. This story was as convoluted and unpredictable as a Dick Tracy story. It was a lot of fun to read!

I'll have to look into more Kerry Drake. Thanks for a great blog!

darkmark said...

I'm hoping you won't stop your blog. And would there be any way you could lend the Digital Comics Museum any crime books we don't have, for scanning?

Pappy said...

Darkmark, I'd have to go through my comics (groan), but it's my impression I don't have anything the DCM doesn't have. If I do I'll help out.