Monday, August 12, 2019

Number 2374: “Face the wall!” The St Valentine’s Day massacre

When the prohibition of alcohol became the law in 1920 it created a nation of scofflaws unwilling to give up drinking. The act had good intentions, but is a good example of the law of unintended consequences. With the demand for illegal alcohol came the gangsters, and with the gangsters came the wars between gangsters. The Valentine’s Day Massacre was one such incident. Gunmen, dressed as police officers and using Thompson submachine guns killed several rivals in a Chicago garage, and it caught the fancy of the public. Then, as now, the appetite for violent murder stories is strong. Crime comics did their bit to tell the tale.

The Grand Comics Database has no guesses for whom to give credit for story and artwork. This version of the murders is from ME Comics’ Guns of Fact and Fiction, a 1948 one-shot collection of gangster and Western gunmen stories.


Daniel [] said...

Some years ago, I made the point in think-tank circles that, in our present age, the consequences that are often called “unintended” are really unacknowledged consequences; a coherent group of analysts have repeatedly provided explanations in advance of what actually follows. But I don't know that a clear explanation had been made available to the public of what would follow upon the liquor prohibition.

This telling of the story of the St Valentine's Day Massacre is different from others that I've read or seen. For example, most versions have Anselmi, Giunta, and Scalisi personally beaten with a baseball bat by Al Capone and then shot at a staged party, after they were discovered to have conspired against him. And I don't imagine Frank Gusenberg refusing to tell a friend or co-worker who the perpetrators had been, though he refused to tell the police. I'm not sure that he actually knew who shot him.

In the movie Scarface (1932), the analogue to Moran is played by Boris Karloff. That casting might seem decidely odd; but, before he played the Monster in Frankenstein (1931), he had a significant rôle in The Criminal Code (1931), without which rôle he might not have been cast in Frankenstein.

Brian Barnes said...

That was pretty dry for a story where a whole lot of people got shot! Mostly because it was so text heavy and a dense read with all the 'dat' and 'dem' and whatnot.

I loved the splash!

Pappy said...

Daniel, famous crime stories got enough variation in the storytelling that a story of the St Valentine's Day massacre could seem to be almost new depending on the treatment. In today's time of mass killings by psychopaths often just interested in causing high body counts, it seems almost a relief that there were gangsters solving problems by killing other gangsters. Keeping it within the family, so to speak.

Pappy said...

Brian, the old too much speech in the speech balloons. Maybe writers of crime comics and those who wrote love comics were practicing for novels they would like to write. The comic book writers were paid by the page, not by the word like they would have earned had they been writing dense dialogue and description for pulp magazines or paperback originals.