Tuesday, May 15, 2018

The Widow of Death

If you're feeling like THOIA hasn't been particularly vicious enough lately, then feast your eyes on this cat burnin', child killin', multiple meat cleaverin' blows to the head classic from the June - July 1948 issue of Underworld Vol. 1 #3! This story really does prove that 40's-50's crime comics could sometimes be even more horrific than the horror ones, and on top of that-- this tale is based on the TRUE story of Belle Gunness, aka The Lonely Hearts Killer!

(Click HERE after the story to read more about her.)

*Extra big thanks to our good pal, Tommy "El Diablo" Stanziola for hooking us up with this one!


Morbid said...

My jaw dropped less than half-way through and I started using expletives soon after and all the way through to the end. Absolutely brutal and unhinged pre-code horror-crime comic! A classic of the genre. Thank you Tommy "El Diablo" and Karswell. I will long remember this one. She even plants a clever in her adopted son's head in the last page! Damn, this is nuts! Wow.

Mestiere said...

"Why do we want these people from all these shithole countries here? We should have more people from places like Norway." — Donald Trump, January 11, 2018.

How things change.

Serial killing was most common and successful—higher body counts—in areas of rapid population growth where people didn't know each other and there was plenty of opportunity to get rid of the bodies. Like the U.S. during the 19th century. Its population grew 14-fold while remaining predominantly rural. Many rural areas had practically no policing and the homicide rates were incredible. Cumberland County, Kentucky, averaged 150 homicides per hundred thousand people per year from 1880 to 1930. That's an average. In bad times it could peak at 600. Remember all those Westerns? The Far West was extraordinarily violent. Dodge City had 165 homicides per hundred thousand people. With homicide rates like that, serial killers can hide. By comparison the U.S. homicide rate today is about 4.6 per hundred thousand people per year.

Apart from serial killers the 19th century also had tremendous amounts of infanticide—mostly committed by women—and incest families. Here is a modern example from Australia. I'm sure they used to be much more common in the past. Because of the rapid population increase in rural areas during the 19th century (high birth rate) entire counties ended up with populations of related people.

As populations become more demographically stable, urbanized and older the number of serial killers go down. But a new kind of killer is replacing them. Mass killers don't want to remain anonymous in the time of social media. Using Norway as an example, compare Belle Gunness with Anders Breivik, the Norwegian psychopath who gunned down 77 people, mostly children, in Ut√łya, an island in a lake where the ruling Norwegian Labour Party had organized a summer camp. He left a 1500 page manifesto in English and wouldn't commit suicide. He wanted everyone to know it was him. Instead of remaining anonymous these killers want to become famous.

Brian Barnes said...

What's a really bad ending for a crime comic? The killer getting away, as Belle Gunness really did!

That fire that burned down her house contained the bodies of her children and "her" body, a headless corpse, actually Belle's house keeper designed to try to throw off the cops. She was never found. Kind of weird they didn't mention that little fact!

She also looks a whole lot better in this story then she did in real life.

Aside from that, she did kill and butcher many bodies. Her work was probably more grisly than this comic! This is truly a horror comic!

glowworm2 said...

I was going to say that the real Belle Gunness definitely was no buxom blonde, that's for sure.
Wow--this pre-code comic's got everything--a child sociopath, a cat frantically running around on fire, a runaway baby stroller--complete with a baby still in it, a dead father (gee, I wonder who planted that knife in daddy dearest?) tons of dead men--and to top it off, dead adoptive children. Although I must admit, the children lasted longer than I expected them too.

Guy Callaway said...

After reading this, I almost believe Wertham wasn't too far off the mark. Insane!

Mr. Cavin said...

I really loved the sort of two-panel comic strip format they've used for most of this--a set-up then a punch line, row after row. It's like reading a story composed of evil Bazooka Joe wrappers. As a matter of fact, you should totally print this story out, wrap it around pieces of gum, and hand it out for Halloween.

My favorite wrapper is the bottom of page two. I love that panel where mom and her fifteen-year-old patricide are dancing a grass-skirt hula down at the old Tropicana or wherever. Belle's first husband is the only audience member who has been colored, but he looks a lot like the other men in the crowd. I like to imagine the art board for that, with a blue pencil circle around Meryl: This guy. I also like to imagine this panel painted on the fuselage of a B-52 bomber, but then I assume everybody does.

Mr. Karswell said...

Most surprisingly to me seems to be the sound a meat clever makes going into a child’s noggin...

CRACK! —??!!

Diablo666 said...

Extremely pleased that dear Mr. Karswell's delinquent audience adores the same kinda warped, gore-soaked stories that I do!....It's always harder to locate the real "Killer"-type stories in Crime comics, instead of Horror comics, but when ya do, the 'pay-off' is astoundingly horrific....it warms Diablo's bleeding heart that, like Craig Yoe, my comic "Archaeology" is not in VEIN...hehee...there's definitely more of these "Corroded Needles in the Haystack", so I'll keep an eye, poppin' out for 'em!

Rick said...

one of the best horror stories. I loved every panel. ahh...the good ol' pre-code politically incorrect 10 cent comic book days. What happened?