Sunday, August 28, 2005

A criminal in a cowboy hat is still a criminal, crime still kills the cows

The problem of the effect of crime comic books is like a combined clinical and laboratory problem in infectious diseases. You not only have to study the possibly affected individuals; you have to investigate the potentially injurious agents themselves, their varieties, their lives, their habitat. There is a considerable distance from the pure culture of the bacillus to the clinical case.

What about the "wholesome" adventure stories, the "Westerns," for example? The vast majority, if not all Western comic books are crime comic books. They describe all kinds of crime and brutality. For example, one marked on the cover as "YOUR FAVORITE WESTERN STAR" has an "arsenal advertisement" on the inside cover with the endorsement of ———— M.D., psychiatrist, on the page facing it. On the back cover is a full-page gun advertisement with a gun pictured across the whole page. This book is especially badly printed, and shows, among other things, the close-up of a dying man with blood streaming from his mouth.

In another Western, one man has gold dust thrown in his eyes (an example of what I call the injury-to-the-eye motif, this being a very frequent feature in comic books).

Another comic book expresses the whole philosophy: "Since when do we worry about killin' people?"