Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Number 2056: So beautiful, so psycho

“What mysterious psychological quirk motivated her crimes?” asks the splash panel blurb. To answer the question I would guess Laura, the focus of “The She-Wolf Killer,” is a psychopath. Nowadays psychiatrists would say she has an antisocial personality disorder, but yeah, to me she’s a stone-cold psychopath. In a six page story it takes nearly three before she commits her first killing, but it is easy for her, so she keeps it up until she is shot dead.

This is not a particularly well-written crime story, but it is prettied up considerably by Matt Baker’s artwork. He could turn an evil psychopath into a blonde cheesecake model, so young fellows reading might fantasize about Laura. Nice trick getting her skirt to billow above her knees. It reminds me of his work on Sky Girl in Jumbo Comics. This story is from Weird Adventures #1 (1951), from the small publisher, P.L. Publishing Co., also known as X.L. Publishing. In one of the weirdest things about Weird Adventures, it has two indicias, one for X.L., and one for P.L.


Ryan Anthony said...

Is "The She-Wolf Killer" supposed to be based on or inspired by a real person? That second panel has a date and an unexplained backstory you usually wouldn't see in such tales. In fact, this thing is so badly structured, with each successive panel skipping over a lot of time and action ("Eight years later," "The following year," "A few years later"), that it feels like little pieces of a much longer narrative were plucked out and thrown onto the page. The writer committed a crime himself by excising an interesting dramatic sequence from the top of Page Four; one of the major rules of fiction writing is "Begin in the middle," whereas this scripter included only the beginning and end! And on Page Five, he goes from "I'm going to Miami" to ""That's the Queen of Miami" in two panels! Then, at the bottom, we're told that Laura bites the cop instead of being shown that action, which would've been much cooler. I'd love to get a look at the script for this mess. There's so little narrative continuity, I wonder what kind of directions Baker was actually given. Since most of the dramatic action was left in the gutters, the artist got little more to do than draw pretty, static poses. Too bad he hadn't more like that penultimate silent panel to work with.

Brian Barnes said...

This crime comic shows one of the murders off panel, and monologues it in a thought balloon. We've got enough pin-up shots of her, we need more bloody murder to turn all the kids into dope fiends or whatever happened to them (I remember somewhere in the history books the great children uprising of the 50s.)

Come on, folks, comic writing 101! Show, don't tell! Pappy, you're being kind to say "not a particularly well-written crime story!" The arts great, as expected from Baker. Crime stories are always fun, even though the beats are well known.

Pappy said...

Ryan, Brian, yeah, what you both said...I agree.

It would be handy in a 5, 6, or 7 page story not to try to crowd in too much history. Maybe take one incident in a long criminal life, perhaps the ultimate act or showdown with police, with allusions to past crimes.

I don't believe the story was based on a real person, although, who knows.

You ever watch the ID Discover channel? Twenty-four hours a day, murder stories in documentary form. I never realized until I could not get off the couch one day, and after watching several hours of these true crime stories how many gruesome murders and mysteries go on in the U.S., almost routinely, that I never hear about. So maybe the She-Wolf was a real person. I'll bet if she was she wasn't a Marilyn Monroe lookalike.