Wednesday, September 06, 2017

Number 2098: The Terrible Gennas

The Genna Brothers were prohibition-era gangsters operating in Chicago in the early 1920s. It was a violent era and each of the brothers came to a violent end. Despite their reputations at the time, after death the “Terrible Gennas,” as newspapers of the day called them, have been mostly forgotten. Especially after Al Capone took over the rackets.

The Gennas, from Sicily, had the American entrepreneurial spirit for their criminal enterprise. While other gangs owned breweries, the Gennas set up stills in the apartments of fellow immigrants. While a centralized brewery could be shut down, a whole lot of home-brewers could not. The Gennas paid the people $15 a load, not a bad payday for the times. Of course, the Gennas were reaping much greater financial rewards. And by having other people do their manufacturing, the Gennas did not face the risks of the folks making the illegal brew. Sometimes the stills would explode, sending shrapnel into hapless amateur brewers. It reminds me of the meth cooks of today, some of whom blow themselves up. “No risk, no reward,” I have heard.

Rudy Palais drew the story for Ace Comics’ Crime Must Pay the Penalty #4 (1948).



On a personal note, Steven Thompson, known as Booksteve, has closed his Four-Color Shadows blog. Since 2010 Steve has kept a steady stream of Golden Age material popping up in his blog. Steve is leaving his blog’s archive online for the time being.

I want to wish Steve the best of luck on his future projects, one of which is Steve’s current book compiled from his pop culture blog, The Best of Booksteve’s Library, available now. Check his website for details.


Daniel [] said...

The reference to a depression in 1922 is off-the-mark, but not so much as one might think. Following upon the inflationary finance used for World War I, there was an economic downturn beginning in 1920 and lasting into 1921. The Secretary of Commerce was sure that government action could turn things around quickly, but the President was unconvinced, and the depression lasted about a year.

(When the Depression of 1929 hit, the man who had been Secretary of Commerce had a chance to demonstrate how government action could more quickly set things right. Now President, Herbert Clark Hoover embarked on a programme of price supports, unionization, and cartelization of industry, to reverse the competitive forces that he blamed for the downturn. This programme was pursued with still greater intensity under the next President, until 1937, when it was replaced by a different scheme.)

Without huge globs of oily sweat coming off the characters, how are we to believe that this story were drawn by Rudy Palais?

Brian Barnes said...

The one thing about these gangster stories -- they are all based on the concept that quantity of life is better than quality of life. I'm not disagreeing, but some people might like to live fast and die young; to roll in the dough and the "chippies" for a couple years and check out.

I hope you continue on! I've read four-color shadows here and there and have had it bookmarked, sorry to see it go!

Pappy said...

Daniel, interesting history lesson. Thanks!

Pappy said...

Brian, my philosophy is different. Live slow, die old, leave an ugly corpse everyone is glad to bury. So far I am achieving that goal right on schedule.