Friday, July 24, 2015

Number 1765: Biker gang, fifties style

This vintage look at outlaws on motorcycles comes to us from I’m a Cop #2 (1954), a title from ME. The motorcycle gang phenomenon was not unknown in those days. Life magazine showed this picture in 1947, when bikers took over a California town.

The Hollister incident was the basis for the movie, The Wild One, starring Marlon Brando, released in February, 1954. My impression from the look of the stick-up men is that the story was influenced by what Brando wore in the movie.

There were no cell phone videos in those days to document how the cop got the confession from the butcher, although we are given a silhouette so we can imagine the carnage.

Bob Powell and his gang did the artwork.


Brian Barnes said...

If you get Bob Powell to illustrate your story, why fill it with a wall of text? Most of it just explaining what's going on in the picture or obvious from the flow? I love Pappy's Crime Wave but this is always the most frustrating thing about crime comics, they are perfect for medium but so poorly represented of the art form in the 50s with text, text, text, text, and more text. And a little text on the side!

BTW, jumping through a plate glass window is not only probably going to kill you but it's going to make you a sitting duck for 4 armed dudes. That was a little hard to suspend disbelief there!

This story is like "The Boys from Brazil" is they used Brando's DNA!

J_D_La_Rue_67 said...

Nice procedural police story. Can't say I'm impressed by the art, but the writer's style reminds me of "Dragnet".
I checked wiki and found out biker's gangs started soon after the war. I always had a feeling that it was just another aspect of the veterans' uneasiness.
Anyway, those "onepercenter" bad bikers became an American icon. I can't picture Dennis Burkley having dinner in the suit and tie in a fancy restaurant.

Pappy said...

Brian, don't forget love comics, which also tend to be caption heavy. I am of the opinion that this style had something to do with radio. Everything had to be explained, and I think it spilled over into comics. Years after the crime comics, when The Untouchables was popular on TV, Walter Winchell narrated it, radio style. Besides having an annoying, staccato vocal style, Winchell's comments were superfluous.

Pappy said...

J D, I'm A Cop may have been an attempt to publish crime comics (still a genre that sold well) and deflect criticism by writing them from law enforcement's point of view. In this story it showed law enforcement cutting corners by beating up the bad guy.

As a young man I worked on a couple of different jobs with members of biker gangs. I found that individually they could be friendly and approachable, but when they were with their gangs they tended to take on the wolf pack mentality.

A lot of that biker image was invented by the movies.

Kirk said...

It's more than what they're wearing. Those stick-up men all look like Brando--or caricatures of Brando. Pappy, ever see the Mad comic book parody of The Wild One, called Wild 1/2? Wally Wood's Brando looks a lot like the stickup man in the first panel of Powell's story. And the other stickup men look a bit like Wood's Brando, too. Not saying one was copying off the other--there's only so many ways you can caricature Brando--but it's interesting that though one story's a parody and the one's not doesn't seem to matter.

Pappy said...

Kirk, certainly The Wild One was a very popular movie, and probably influenced more than one artist of the day.

As for the Mad parody, I read not long ago that Brando saw it and loved it. His friends took to calling him "Branflakes" after the name Kurtzman gave him in the story.