Monday, April 10, 2017

Number 2034: Sal was quite a gal

Sally the Sleuth was created for the sexy pulp, Spicy Detective magazine, in 1934 by Adolphe Barreaux. Barreaux was in business with Harry Donenfield, who later became the publisher of DC Comics. Barreaux and Donenfield were partners in an art service, and later partners in Trojan Magazines, which published much cleaned up versions of what the Spicy pulps had published in the thirties. When Sally was a pulp magazine comic feature she usually lost her clothes. In Crime Smashers, where she later appeared, she kept her clothes on, but still got in fights. Her boss, the Chief, sent Sally where she was usually in deadly peril, but with some good moves (like the skirt-pulling in this episode), she came out on top. They weren’t having the conversation in 1951 about equal pay for equal work when Crime Smashers #3 appeared with the story, “Dirty Politics,” a subject still on the public mind all these decades later. Considering what Sally went through for her paycheck, she probably did not get what she was worth.

The Grand Comics Database gives Adolphe Barreaux credit for writing and drawing the story using the name Charles Barr.


Brian Barnes said...

The art is ... kind of weird. It has the heavy, muddy 40s inking that'd you see sometimes but has some more modern touches and it's not all that stilted. It seems like an artist who had an older style and was transitioning. It's interesting!

Why is Sally even a sleuth? First bar she walks into, first woman in that bar she runs into, leads her right to the photographer! She's the luckiest sleuth ever!

Ryan Anthony said...

Sally Nosurname is a much better detective in Crime Smashers than she was in Spicy Detective Stories. I have the Pulp Tales Press book The Best of Sally the Sleuth and so am well acquainted with her black-and-white activities. Because of the brevity of those early strips, there was little time for actual detective work because they had to get Sal out of her fashionable duds. She'd go undercover and almost immediately get found out. Some detective; more like bait. Despite being a good shot and trained in Judo, she pretty much always got captured and had to be rescued by the Chief. I know Barreaux meant for the pulp strips to be light-hearted, but there was something rather uncomfortable about the whole thing, especially since it involved brutal violence, bondage, and breasts. Anyway, this color story is a much better detective yarn, but it's not without its minor faults. Would the people really have returned their support to Mayor Gray after the trumped-up evidence turned them against him? Did voters get past all the fake news about Hillary? Well, maybe she just needed Sally the Sleuth on her side!

Gene Phillips said...

I like how the story managed to work in some fairly tame examples of "spicy staples" like the catfight. And even if Sally doesn't lose her clothes, the scene with her virtually draping herself over the judge accomplishes a similar purpose.

Did Frederic W. actually attack any GENUINE spicies?

Neil Hansen said...

Thanks for the pulp information which really adds to the blog article quite a bit.

Pappy said...

Brian, I believe Adolphe Barreaux, although credited, at this time jobbed off the artwork to other artists. Somewhere in my posts are two stories supposedly by Barreaux that are far apart in art styles. I believe the "true Barreaux" can be found in those lovely, corny, sexist, yet sexy original Sally strips (and strip she did!)

Pappy said...

Ryan, I believe you are right about Sally being more bait than actual detective. I visualize the chief sitting back smoking a cigar until the villain is about to violate Sally and then stepping in to close the case.

I couldn't find my examples of the original Sally the Sleuth two-pagers to show my wife, also named Sally. I described them to her: "In two pages Sally sheds her clothes, is threatened with rape or being murdered, and then rescued." My Sally said, "That Sally was a busy girl."

If any women read Spicy Detective or any others of that salacious (for the thirties) line of pulps, they probably didn't admit it. I had a customer in a book store where I worked in the seventies who was always after those old Spicy magazines, mainly for the illustrations. The poor guy was a psychiatric casualty of World War II (now long deceased) who would get visibly excited talking about pictures he had seen in his dad's Spicy magazines, hidden in a closet or sock drawer. He'd get so loud other customers would start pulling away and I often had to caution him about getting overly excited. He would say, "And in this one picture a guy has a .45 and he's blasting a naked woman in the guts. IN THE GUTS!" I always dreaded seeing that guy walk through the door, and even when we had any Spicy pulps to sell he just wanted to look, not buy.

Pappy said...

Neil, I live to serve up this kind of junk and be pedantic and hopefully not boring! Thanks for your thanks!