Wednesday, December 14, 2016
Number 1985: Crimebuster, anti-Nazi
I believe Gleason did a brilliant thing: he hired Charles Biro and Bob Wood as his editorial team, which put his small list of titles among the top sellers all through the 1940s. Biro had a knack for the sort of attention-getting devices in comics. He created a costumed character called Crimebuster by putting a hockey uniform and cape on a boy, Chuck Chandler, who has plenty of smarts and moxie, but no superhero powers. Because of the strong and dramatic storytelling that character sold comic books throughout the 1940s, and only ended when Gleason closed his company in 1956.
“Crimebuster in the Touch of the Leper” is an anti-Nazi story from Boy Comics #5 (1942). I love the design elements of the splash page. Uncle Sam, the Nazi swastika standing in for the “s” in sabotage, all eye candy for the newsstand looky-loos to induce them to part with a dime.**
*You can read a fascinating 2010 article from The Comics Journal written by Gleason’s nephew. It tells a lot about the publisher and his left-leaning political philosophy.
**Another trick to get the dimes from kids was the continued story. I am sorry to keep you folks hanging. When you get to the end you will find Crimebuster confronted by gorgeous blonde twins, and the promise of Iron Jaw for the next issue. I don’t have that issue, but you can read Boy Comics #6 at the Digital Comics Museum. Unfortunately for me, it is a fiche copy, and I have enough troubles with my aging eyeballs without trying to read a fiche.