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A sharp-eyed shop assistant spots the $500 bills Fogelman uses to pay for “redhead’s” expensive clothes. The manager calls the police and Clay gets twenty years in prison. Three years later he and another criminal he has befriended in prison escape by slamming a guard over the head with a hefty shovel.

Shortly thereafter, the prison escapees steal a car, hold up a gas station, and shoot the elderly man who owns it. The proprietor’s wife, on hearing the shot, runs in and Clay shoots her too.

Her face contorts with pain as the bullet hits her...Tuska was very good at drawing people in pain, he’d had plenty of practice with Biro’s stories. Though she wasn’t meant to, the woman survives to identify the killers who, not sure whether they had killed her or not, went to hide out with Clay’s cousin Margie and her husband.

Ultimately, Clay orders Margie to take off his shoes. “That’s my first order,” he says. Her husband cries “Don’t do it Margie,” and is rewarded by Clay’s friend who hits him over the head with a blackjack. “Shut up you louse,” yells the accomplice, “or I’ll split your skull open!” The next frame shows him asking Margie: “Do I kick his teeth in or do you take Clay’s shoes off?”

Later, Margie overhears Clay and his accomplice discussing robbing a public school the next day. “They get paid monthly and tomorrow’s the first,” says Jimmy. “I’m calling the police the second they leave this house,” whispers Margie to Sam. Taking what little money Margie has in her purse, Clay goes to town to buy bullets, “You can’t point and empty gun at a guy and expect his to drop dead, you know!”

Margie sees Clay go to get the car and instead of waiting a minute, rushes to phone the police. Unfortunately, Clay and Jimmy see her silhouette reaching for the phone through the window. They go inside and Clay tells Jimmy to heat up a poker. “I think we’ll get serious,” he tells Margie. Her husband tries to intervene but Jimmy knocks him cold and Clay twists Margie’s arm behind her back. Margie is terrified. She screams “Don’t touch me with that thing!” Clay laughs and is about to apply the poker to her neck when she passes out. The hoods go out and buy a hundred cartridges.

Murder Incorporated #9Clay and Jimmy go to the school. It is Sunday and there’s only a janitor in attendance. Clay asks him where the money is but the janitor says he doesn’t know. “I know how to fix a bad memory,” grimaces Clay. “Stick your fingers on the table.” The janitor does as he is told and Clay brings his gun butt down hard on the hapless janitor’s fingers. The janitor screams in pain. “Get me now,” snarls Clay. “You’d better or I’ll break every bone in your seedy body!” Whereupon he smashes the man’s hand once more. The janitor tells them the money is in the principal’s office. “Oh, my fingers,” he whimpers, “You’ve ruined my hand!” To which Clay replies as he hits him in the jaw with his gun butt: “Now ain’t that sad!”

Finally the police arrest Clay who blubbers about his obvious date with the chair “N...No!! Nyaahh!! I don’t want to die!! Sob! Ee!! Don’t pull me! I don’t want to go! Stop! Stop! Ee!!” So ended Clay Fogelman.

Mr. Crime ends by saying: “So you see? You never know--a tough guy can shoot off a big mouth and wield a big fist, like Clay Fogelman, and then wind up like a wriggling, squealing rat under the foot of the law. A lotta people don’t know that there aren’t any brave criminals! There are only two kinds--yellow ones and dumb ones! Won’t the saps ever learn that CRIME DOES NOT PAY!”

This was not the worst story by any means. Crime Does Not Pay had many more that served up gratuitous brutality to women. In issue #54 a hoodlum forces a frightened young girl to drive him out of town into the country. On the way he realizes the girl could identify him for his crimes so he suggests they would be a good team, even get married some day. The girl replies with a question, asking what will happen if she doesn’t agree to his ideas. The thug tells her to pull over, slaps her hard on the face and tells her to get out of the car. She screams that she is engaged and that she loves her boyfriend. She understands what he is going to do to her and cries out that yes, she’ll marry him. “It’s too late now, sister,” he tells the sobbing girl. “You had your chance--you’d turn me in the first chance you got--and that’s how it is--this is the end, pretty baby!” The girl is petrified. She begs him not to kill her. A close up panel shows the crook shooting her in the side of the head with the girl’s face contorting in pain.

In issue #62, a close up shows a pretty blonde being shot in the neck. The excellent art in both cases was by George Tuska.

There is no doubt that Biro was a good writer, his tales were rich with characterization, plenty of action, and massive amounts of text.

But whether or not the youthful Biro and Wood worried about the effect their stories might have on children has never been documented.


Fox Features Syndicate
If Crime Does Not Pay was infamous as the bloodiest and most realistic of the crime comics, some of the other publishers gave the title a run for its money. Competing well the “most sexy, sadistic, and violent” category, Victor Fox’s Murder Incorporated and Blue Beetle are noteworthy, historic, and very collectible titles. As many CBM readers know, Fox Features comics were printed on poor quality paper which didn’t do much for the reproduction (and makes surviving high grade copies very scarce and sought after in today’s comic book marketplace). When historians describe sleaze, sex, and violence as Fox’s obsession, they are masters of understatement. His best artists, Jack Kamen and Matt Baker, are much revered and collected for their good girl art. (Of special note is the company’s breasty crime-fighter-in-bedroom-lingerie, Phantom Lady...along with the wild and scantily attired Rulah, Jungle Goddess.)

In Victor Fox’s early years, Blue Beetle was a superhero in the familiar mold. In the late ’40s, Fox added liberal helpings of sex combined with violence so that the title would sell at newsstands flooded with crime books.

In Blue Beetle #56 (May 1948), is a classic example of sex and crime. The book begins “‘Deliver me from crazy women,’ So said Dan Garret, alias Blue Beetle, many a time in jest. Then he tangled with a paranoiac female to end all females...and she was doing just that...ending all females...until the greatest crook killer of all solved the case of the ‘Sinister Sphinx.’”

Crime Must Pay The Penalty #3First, a panel shows a sexily attired blonde looking through a window where we see a bosomy girl in silhouette undressing. “Murder on stealthy feet stalks the Debutante of the Year”...says the opening caption. Next we see the girl at her mirror saying goodnight to the maid. Once the maid has gone, the blonde leaps through the window. “It’s goodbye Miss Marsh, not goodnight!” snaps the blonde. “Ooh! Help!”

Then the blonde with the naked midriff grabs the luckless debutante and stabs her in the throat. Blood oozes over her ample breasts and the blonde places a tiny sphinx on her chest. The killer is described as “paranoiac” because she leaves the sphinx models on the bodies.

Later, the blonde killer drives through the night in an expensive roadster on her way to kill a strip teaser. (Yes, even strip teasers got into Fox comics.) The Sphinx killer, replete in her Frederick’s of Hollywood costume, eventually arrives at the strip club.

In her skimpy costume with 5” heels, she plunges her knife into the stripper’s chest who cries out uselessly, “Help! No! Don’t!” To which our maniac replies “Got to, sister! You’ll make headlines...for the last time.” There’s plenty of headlight art here...even on the dead girl...pouring from her chest wound.

Another girl gets a knife in her throat, and eventually Blue Beetle catches the Sphinx, beating her to a pulp in the final panels.


Paying the Penalty
Another interesting title was Crime Must Pay the Penalty from Ace. Top heavy with violence, issue #3 contains a bloody tale called “Johnny Lazia King of Kansas City.” The final panel is full of gore. Lazia lies on his back, blood pouring from everywhere, and his girlfriend lies dead on top of him.

Then there’s a vicious tale called “Frisco Mary.” A fetching brunette newlywed in tight sweater and skirt is introduced by her husband to his crooked buddies. “So these were the hotshots you were telling me about? They ain’t nothin’ but two bit punks!” she sneers, cigarette in hand. One of the men replies: “What’s that? I oughta slap them pretty teeth outta that loud mouth! Breeze, sister! Blow!” Mary naturally takes umbrage and smashes the guy with a left hook saying “Don’t talk to me like that, you mangy little rat!”

Mary virtually takes over the gang and leads them on a series of robberies peppered with violence. Later there’s a panel which has become quite notorious: it shows “Frisco” Mary machine gunning a cop who got in her way. The expression on the cop’s face is full of agony as “Frisco” pumps him full of lead. “We could have got twice as much if it wasn’t for this frog-headed rat! I’ll show him!”

After more killings and robberies, the police finally get the gang and “Frisco” Mary Fenner “...breathed out her life in a California gas chamber, discovering, but too late, that Crime Must Pay the Penalty.”

Crime flourished at the turn of the decade. Anything depraved, sadistic and violent found a home in the lurid, cheaply printed pages of Crime Smashers, Crime & Punishment, Justice Traps the Guilty and Real Clue Crime Stories. (Actually, the latter pair were not quite as bad as they often had reasonable stories with far less emphasis on violence). Remember, also, that Prize Comics’ Justice Traps the Guilty was a Joe Simon and Jack Kirby creation and was brim full of many beautifully illustrated stories. Simon and Kirby claimed they eschewed too much blood ’n’ guts gore but Kirby wasn’t shy of the occasional girl beating or slapping in some tales.


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