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Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Jack Cole’s True Crime Comics




Mr. Monster's True Crime no. 2 (Mr. Monster's Super-Duper Special no. 4) Nov 1986
Jack Cole was a master craftsman. He was a triple threat of writer, artist, and letterer whose work was as good as any of his Golden Age contemporaries like Will Eisner and Jack Kirby. 

Plastic Man #1, 1943
Though he is most famous for creating and working on Plastic Man for most of the 40’s, he also did other work. One incredible example of his mastery over the comics medium is his work in 1947’s True Crime.
Mr. Monster's True Crime no. 1 (Mr. Monster's Super-Duper Special no. 3) Sep 1986

In the mid 80’s Eclipse Comics and Michael T. Gilbert re-released these books in Mr. Monster’s True Crime #1 and #2. When I first saw these I was blown away by it from beginning to end. The comic starts out with “Murder, Morphine and Me!” a sordid tale of drugs, crime and corrupted youth. 
Murder, Morphine and Me from True Crime # 1 1986. Originally presented in True Crime #3 July 1948


It had the famous “Injury to eye” talked about in Fredrick Wertham’s Seduction Of The Innocent as an example of the kinds of horrors that were corrupting our kids in the comics they read.

from page 2 of Murder Morphine and Me from True Crime #1 1986
In these comics Cole shows a mastery of panel usage that is rivaled only by the best comics creators of all time. People like Eisner, Kirby, and Frank Miller.

His dialog is totally addictive making the pages fly by as you read and making the book something that you can read again and again. It’s dynamic and catchy.


from page 2 of Murder Morphine and Me from True Crime #1 1986

His panels “speak” to you just as much as his dialog does.
He uses the borderless panel to break the 4th wall and candidly talk to the audience. 
from page 2 of Murder Morphine and Me from True Crime #1 1986

He tilts the panel giving it wavy lines creating dynamic tension and trauma. 
from page 8 of Murder Morphine and Me from True Crime #1 1986

He has the symbol laden panels that lets the depicted objects speak for themselves.

from page 6 of Murder Morphine and Me from True Crime #1 1986

from page 12 of Murder Morphine and Me from True Crime #1 1986
He even has the page long, borderless montage leading the reader through the page by the line of the winding road.

from page 8 of Meet the Split Benny Dickson! Public Enemy #1 from True Crime #2 1986. Originally presented in True Crime #3 July 1948
One of my favorite things about Cole’s crime comics is his women. They were the original gun molls settig the stage for modern day ones like Harley Quinn.
There’s Mary Kennedy who was an innocent waitress before she was corrupted by drug kingpin Tony Petrillo. 
from page 5 of Murder Morphine and Me from True Crime #1 1986

from page 6 of Murder Morphine and Me from True Crime #1 1986

And then there was 17 year old Stella Marks Dickson. Wanted in four states for bank robbery.
from page 6 of Meet the Split Benny Dickson! Public Enemy #1 from True Crime #2 1986.

from page 9 of Meet the Split Benny Dickson! Public Enemy #1 from True Crime #2 1986.
Cole's girls are lively, fun, and up for any crime.

If there ever was any genius creators in comics, Jack Cole is at the top of that list and giving all creators a very high benchmark for them to live up to.

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