Tuesday, April 16, 2019

The Butcher / The Strangler

--and if you think you need a story about a candlestick maker to round out your trilogy of terror, just click HERE after today's deadly double detective feature! Our first tale fresh off the chopping block is from the August 1952 issue of Suspense Detective #2, with art by Mike Sekowsky, followed by one guaranteed to really choke you up, from the January 1954 issue of Crime Mysteries #11.


Glowworm said...

The first story is a lot of fun--a strong lead newswoman somewhat like Lois Lane and a sophisticated yet insane butcher.
I must admit though--the minute "Mr. Adams" walked in to see Ann, all I could think was "That's him, that's the butcher." It was about as obvious as two weeks ago with the werewolf's identity in that Captain Triumph comic. Also, with that clear description Ann had of the killer, she should have realized that the man who wanted to "help" was actually the killer. Also that fifth panel of Ann on the second page is really cute.
Yet what pulls this one altogether for me is that unlike the previous comic where Margaret had to rely on Mark to save her at the last minute, Ann was smart enough to figure out a way to get Dr. Blake see the true monster in the mirror. Too bad he didn't have any time to reflect upon his past actions before it came crashing down upon him. Yeah, Ann is frickin' awesome.

As for the second tale, I love how the wife actually figured out the killer's motives, yet her husband--who is a cop and should have seen things like this by now, claims she's being hysterical rather than admit that she was right. That slapping was unnecessary. At least he was smart enough to realize what was actually going on before anything really bad happened to his wife. I hope he made it up to her afterwards.

Mr. Cavin said...

Yeah, Big City PD needs to fire that Dick and hire his wife for sure. I see this sort of thing a lot in these fifties stories. Our swaggering hero plays it so sportingly relaxed that he comes off like the very last person to know what the heck's happening. Many movies have four reels of the lead smugly shrugging off whatever doesn't suit; and then quickly coming around in the last act--looks like that last crucial puzzle piece now fits! --looks like it was his idea all along! Think of Dana Andrews in Night of the Demon, for example. That guy was simply wrong for ninety minutes straight, but continued to vector his fallacies at anyone who would listen. What a genius!

Actually, that doesn't even gall me. That kind of Big City PD Dick movie is probably pretty astute characterizing. What kills me is how everybody just plays along. In real life, this jerk would be getting a divorce and some assault changes for good measure.

I really dug those handful of virtuoso panels in the second story (like that badass splash), but my heart belongs to the Sekowsky work in the first one. I really love all the technical pen, and find pages four and five especially beautiful. I don't think the color strategy works particularly well with this kind of drawing, though. At least not without taking a bit of extra care. This use of evenly-weighted lines, as both detail and texture, takes more in the way of color organization to help the reader parse the objects being illustrated.

Mestiere said...

They almost said "bullshit" on the cover. Edgy!

The Butcher

What were the columnist and the psychologist supposed to do if they found the serial killer?

It's an extraordinary coincidence that all the people Blake had a vendetta against had red hair. All thirteen, including Ann Logan. Even in Scotland, the country with the highest percentage of redheads, the chances of getting in trouble with thirteen redheads in a row is less than one in 330 billion.

Ann is the luckiest gal in the world. She found a mirror light enough that she could hold it up with one beam but heavy enough that it could crush a two hundred pound man to death. And she killed him in the same place where evidence of his guilt could be found. Otherwise she would just be seen as a killer.

The Strangler

"Police headquarters of the Bic City." Yes, the city is so Bic. I'm a Bic man myself!

"We want every man with a height of five-five to five-nine!" Fantastic police work! That narrows it down to just 45 percent of all men. Thank God I'm a Bic man!

"His next victim will be another blonde woman..." Wait, how does the killer know that his victims are real blondes? Quick, bring me their hairdresser! What? He's five-ten? Dammit, so close!

"I'm not insane! Everyone makes fun of me! Especially women with blonde hair..." I hear you, brother. The blonde ones are the only mouthy ones(!).

"Why did he want to kill? Why?" asks the abused wife. "We'll never know, honey!" says the abusive cop. "Creation makes some people strange!" That's right, it's God's fault for giving people freedom of will. Like the freedom to be a condescending, violent douche of a husband.

I was entertained.

Grant said...

I always expect these horror stories with the REPORTER as the main character to have a very light final scene, complete with some wisecrack from the reporter. So the final panel of "The Butcher" really surprised me.

JMR777 said...

These stories show The Horrors of humanity, the killers and fiends often overlooked when one discusses horror comics. The horror comics of the fifties dealt with maniacs and mad killers only on occasion, the crime comics dealt with them as common menaces.

I enjoy this detour into horror comic stories via crime comics, variety is the spice of life.

Grant said...

I'm sure countless people will see that slap from Jack to Janet on Page 4 and say "The sexism of the times!"
And that might be true, but of course the "slapping the hysteric" cliche used to be very, very popular, and plenty of times the hysteric was a MALE.
Nevertheless, it annoyed me enough to make me wish for the twist of Jack himself being the killer. So I know what Mestiere means.

Mr. Karswell said...

Great comments as always, glad everyone's enjoying the darker side of the detective horror.

Did anyone re read the candle story I linked in the intro? If my "Butcher, Strangler, Candlestick Maker" joke fell flat and you actually needed a Baker instead, then head over to the 2007 THOIA Archive for a scrumptious Matt Fox classic:


Another one coming up shortly, and be prepared to give it a big hand...

Brian Barnes said...

Late to the party this time so let me cover one of my favorite topics -- coloring. And "The Butcher" is how you do it. I complain about neon coloring but this is a perfect example of making it work to great effect. The slower beginning of the story has more realistic colors, as the suspense and danger ratchet up, the color becomes more neon and the read becomes faster.

Page 6 panel 4 looks like self-censorship, that's the only misstep in my opinion.

It also helps that the art is awesome.

In "The Strangler" is less effective. The use of neon seems to come at random times.

Both are fun tales but The Butcher has much better flow and paneling. The Strangler is fun but the ending is rushed and action happens between panels (especially the roof fight.)

JBM said...

Yes the late bells are ringing, but I'll chime in anyways. I liked the luridness of the "Crime Mysteries" cover. For me it had a Briefer feel to it. Yes more exciting/questionable coloring all around again. Two terrorific horror tales blogged here. The second grisly outing was identified by this old time radio fanatic. ("Dark Shadows" and silver/bronze age comics complete this fool's trifecta of fanaticism.) In my collection of tapes is an episode of the "Molle Mystery Theater" titled "The Creeper". The plot of the "Strangler" is a direct lift. Only difference was redheads not blonds were the victims. A most enjoyable offering, thank you Mr. K.. Coming on 4 months or so, hope all is progressing as it should.