Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Number 1659: The ha-ha he-he laughing giggling sadist killer!

Herman Duker was one bad guy: a psychopath who committed cruel acts to animals and fellow humans. He eventually went to the electric chair. His story was told in Crime Does Not Pay #57 (1947), drawn by Fred Guardineer, reprinted in Blackjacked and Pistol Whipped: Crime Does Not Pay, a trade paperback still available from Dark Horse Comics.*

A few months after the Crime Does Not Pay story another version of the Duker story was published, the one I am showing you today. It is from Exposed #2 (1948). The character is given another name, John Hirsh, but it is based on Duker’s story. I’m giving an advance warning that it contains panels with graphic blood, cruelty to animals, and one helluva injury to the eye panel. If you are sensitive don’t say I didn’t warn you.

Comic art spotter Jim Vadeboncoeur Jr gives credit for the artwork to Joe Orlando. It would have been very early in Orlando’s career. As you may know, Joe worked for EC Comics in the fifties, and hung around the comic book field long enough to become an editor at DC Comics, then DC’s vice president, eventually even associate publisher of Mad magazine. He died in 1998 at age 71.

*You can also read the story presented in 2008 by Karswell at The Horrors Of It All. Just click on the thumbnail.


Ryan Anthony said...

Well, you warned us, Pappy. That was unrelentingly brutal. I'm surprised they didn't show "John" frying.

Pappy said...

Ryan, it is interesting to me when looking at such fare as this that in the age of The Walking Dead (or any number of modern other violent entertainments) a story from a 65-year-old comic book can still seem over the top.

Alicia American said...

OMG Pappy theze days tha lettererer culd like save lots of work w/that charactar by just writering "LOL" LOL!

Daniel [] said...

As I noted at Karswell's 'blog, in real life, Duker was sentenced to be hanged, but that sentence was commuted by the governor.

A real brutality might have had the drop of a hanging be too short, so that John were conscious and kicking at the outset of his strangulation.

Attitudes in the 1940s towards capital punishment in general and towards use of the electric chair in particular are very interesting. In the fiction of that era, the heroes seem quite keen to see pretty much every murderer electrocuted, and the love interests of the heroes give nary a shudder. I don't discern quite such enthusiasm for execution in the fiction of the '30s. Perhaps the '40s readiness to kill was entangled with war-time as such.

Brian Barnes said...

Not a lot of information about Duker out there, but I always love how every tell has to end with the criminal being a blubbering baby on the electric chair.

Sure, I would, and most of us would, but I think psychopaths aren't exactly normal people, a lot of them probably believe their life will be short and brutal, and I suspect many of them went to their deaths cursing everybody around them. But, it's "Crime Does Not Pay" so you've got to get some kind of comeuppance in the end.

I do see a bit of Orlando in there, but that just might be because I was told that. It's interesting, it shows a lot of talent and obviously just a little later Orlando would show brilliant talent.

Pappy said...

Daniel, one of the differences in putting convicted folks to death in those days was the speed at which executions could be completed. The appeals process now can take years, at which time the public can begin to wonder if "justice" will ever be served. I guess that is why a life sentence with no chance of parole has become more prevalent.

Maybe someday a jury will just convict a guy to death and via drone-strike a bomb can be flown down his chimney.

P.S., I am not a fan of capital punishment in any form.

Pappy said...

Alicia, I am old-fashioned, I know...but I just cannot get into LOL. Maybe we could adopt one, HHHHHH, which would stand for Ha Ha, Ho-Ho, Hee-Hee. No? I thought not.

Pappy said...

Brian, yes, dammit, always believe everything you read, especially from Pappy's. I will not steer you wrong. Seriously, I am going by the notes of a guy I trust, Jim Vadeboncoeur, Jr. He has been at this art-spotting business for many years. It is obviously not a slick art job, which points to a young artist, but there are little tells as to Orlando's style, and that is what JVJ has picked up on.

It was in Wertham's book that I read how phony he thought that last panel was in most crime stories. When at the point of execution the criminal suddenly realizes where he went wrong and expresses remorse. In the real world probably the only thing they regret is getting caught.