Joe (also called Jack) Slade has either a bad reputation as a Western outlaw, or he wasn’t that bad, depending on who you listen to or what you read. If you google the name you get a couple of versions of the life and career of Slade. The story about Slade I’m showing today is strictly in the bad man camp. But that isn’t the reason I’m showing this story from Desperado #1 (1948). It has to do with the declaration by publisher Lev Gleason, shown here, as to an internal self-censorship code for their line of comic books.
As you can see, there are specific instructions to follow, like number 10, “blood must not be seen flowing from the face or mouth. . .” Then you turn to page 3 of the story and what do you see? Blood flowing from a face. The story is excessively violent; killings pile up, and despite instruction number 2, “sadism or torture . . . will not be accepted,” on the final page a panel shows a half-nude man tied to a tree in a snowstorm, kept alive “in the freezing air” while pleading for death. In the history of comic books and the late forties-early fifties response to calls for censorship or outright banning of crime comics altogether this response from a publisher, with its “much needed form of self-imposed censorship,” may be the most extreme fubar in evidence. Had Dr. Wertham seen this story and the attendant message he may have devoted a chapter of Seduction of the Innocent to the hypocrisy.
Oh yeah...one more thing as long as I’m complaining. I hate the gimmick of the gun telling the story. Anthropomorphizing an inanimate object — another outrage!