Monday, October 05, 2015

Number 1796: Who’s got the button?

I don’t know how many stories artist Bill Everett did for Charles Biro, but this is the only one I have seen. I scanned it from my copy of Crime and Punishment #31 (1950). I have shown this story before, but these are new scans.

“The Button” falls into the category of a story as a primer in crime. The writer is telling the reader that details are important, that a successful criminal should beware of leaving any evidence, no matter how small, at the scene of the crime. When the story is set, 1947, they didn’t know about DNA, or scientific advances that have been made in the past few decades, but in this case they wouldn’t need that. A piece of clothing found at the scene of the crime that matches something a suspect is wearing would do the cops’ job for them.


J_D_La_Rue_67 said...

Ah-ah! Norda's button made me think of Poe's "The Tell-tale Heart".
A murderer becomes obsessed with a small detail that could frame him, but maybe what he really wants is to get caught. I guess it's just a literary thing.
Now, I'm pretty sure there was an E.C. story where a man kills another man, and obsessed with the fear of having left his fingerprints on the crime scene begins to clean the floor, the walls, every little object in the house... when the cops find him, he's a raving madman... :D
I know it was the original title, but that "Obey the Law" slogan on top of the page is very Ingsoc.

7f7f3e2a-4856-11e4-900a-bb8e57f8828f said...

Boy howdies, another story where the character(s) is both too smart and too dumb. Another story that shows you have to have just the right kind of intelligence or ignorance or luck. It's tough when the author takes aim at a character and have his nemesis, in this case a policeman, tell him the ironic forecast of Destiny, "You'd forget your head at the scene of a crime." Wouldn't a lot of us? Jinxed right there. We all secretly hope we don't find ourselves at the butt end of an ironic moral tale. But if we do so end up, it'd be consolation if it was drawn as well as this one. Thanks, Pappy.

Pappy said...

J D, "Touch and Go" is from the story by Ray Bradbury, and was published in Crime Suspenstorise #17. That story reminds me a lot of Poe, but then Poe was an inspiration for many writers.

Pappy said...

7f7, yes, "forget my head." I've never been to jail, never arrested...interactions with police are very limited (a traffic ticket or two), but I have an absolute paranoid fear of being in a police interrogation, and accused of something I didn't do. I watch too many of those true crime shows on television, I guess.

It has something to do with how they expect everyone to have an alibi. Ever notice that? "The man had no alibi." Think about it. Do you have an alibi? I have no alibi. Anything happens the only thing I can tell them I'm doing is sitting home working on my comic book blog. Wouldn't I sound silly? ("Comic books, eh? This guy just has to be guilty!")

"Read me my rights, officer, because I have no freaking alibi."

Brrrrr. Shudder.

Ryan Anthony said...

Very nice art from Everett. Some of the panels look like what might have shown up in Marvel Comics of the 60s. But the story itself, along with some of the compositions, appears quite Eisneresque to me. It would have made a perfect Spirit story (after the Spirit had been worked into it somehow).

Regarding Everett's working with Charles Biro and/or his boss, Lev Gleason, writer Blake Bell posted some info on his blog in December 2012. Everett did a little work for Gleason's Silver Streak Comics in 1942, but that was through the packager Funnies Inc. When the Marvel superheroes were put out to pasture around '49, Everett took assignments from several publishers, apparently including Gleason. Biro tossed him today's story, but that seems to have been it. Bell surmises that Everett, who had enjoyed the freedom he had under Stan Lee, may have only done the one job for Gleason because Biro was a very hands-on editor.

Daniel [] said...

I recently observed someone who, having come into the apartment complex in which I live, to take things from the ordinary dumpster and from the recycling dumpster, began obsessively sweeping in the general area. (He didn't threaten anyone, so I just kept an eye on him. Eventually, he became aware of my presence, and left.)

The cops are also suspicious of people who have alibis; because, well, who but a criminal has an alibi prepared? And, now-a-days, they're criminalizing efforts to avoid coming under suspicion, whether those efforts are driven by guilt or otherwise. Let's just hope that we can make arrangements to get comic books to you in stir. (Unfortunately, I no longer have a good connection to a prison guard. But, at one time, if we'd got you sent to a particular supermax prison, I could have made some sort of arrangement on your behalf.)

Pappy said...

Ryan, I think Blake's assessment is probably correct. Several artists did odd jobs for Biro, including Alex Toth, and usually reported that Biro was very particular. To those artists used to relative freedom from editors (Toth, for one, liked to use silhouettes, and both Kurtzman and Biro said "no" to that) Biro must have seemed very constricting.

Pappy said...

Thanks for the offer, Daniel, but hopefully I'll never be in prison. I believe in the old cliché, "Don't do the crime if you can't do the time."

If your apartment complex visitor was just taking from dumpsters and then sweeping, at least he wasn't there to make a mess for someone else to clean. He didn't leave any bodies, either. That's always good.