Thursday, September 28, 2023

Teen-Age Gangsters, 1957

Note:  This is a new version of an older and beloved scan.  The old post had dead images, and I was getting the issue up at the Internet Archive, so I've taken the opportunity to release a higher resolution scan.  I'm happy enough with the editing choices I made back when, so nothing has changed but image quality and resolution.  After my original post, I was contacted by an individual that just had to have this magazine in an endearing and sincere manner.  Despite my love for this little magazine, I let it go in the name of good will and good karma and am happy to report I later found another copy, not as nice, perhaps, but just as dear.  

If anybody wants my new copy, they'll have to get past my switchblade 😎

At Flickr

Get the scan here: Teen-Age Gangsters (1957.Hillman) (Darwin-IA).cbr

or view it online or download in alternate formats at the Internet Archive here.

Just what is the problem with kids these days, anyways? Here's a classic blonde bad girl - pouting, smoking, and sexy in a cheap and downtrodden sort of way. I'm surprised I haven't seen the cover on a fridge magnet or whatnot, the whole pub is classic American kitsch.

Up for your enjoyment this morning is an iconic publication on juvenile delinquency, a pocket-sized magazine from Hillman in 1957, square between The Wild One and West Side Story. And just who do I think the readership for was for this publication? Why, teen-agers of course. Here we are once again riding that fine line that the 50s pulp media mastered of condemning outlaw and unaccepted behavior while simultaneously indulging in it. With echoes of Wertham (who gets a shout-out in the introductory article), the editors give their motivation. The truth must be known! Sincerity? A guilty disclaimer? or just a nice hook?

 At Flickr

The contents. Every vice covered! A mixture of teen sexual fantasy, true crime, and propaganda, no rock goes unturned...

At Flickr

Samples. Violence, Dope, Sex and Liquor. Wasn't High School great?

At Flickr

At Flickr


At Flickr

What sort of twisted and abnormal kid would ever ever write such a thing? Surely a sociopath...

My favorite pic in the whole mag, the inside back cover. I loved just hanging out on the street with my buds as a teen, a gang just waiting to happen!

 At Flickr

Bonus scans. Here's my mediafire folder of pocket magazines. A number of these are from McCoy and other scanners, thanks, guys! I wonder how many collectors there are of pocket magazines. I love em! It seems like sort of offshoot of comics, the small format with more innocent varieties of men's magazine material. When the comics industry started to crumble, perhaps they looked to other products like this. Tucked away easily, I can imagine kids hiding these out of view from their teacher or parents. I guess these only survive today at the checkout as astrology and soap opera publications.

We exit with the back cover as is appropriate.

Saturday, September 9, 2023

Brown v01n01, January 1954 / New York, New York, It's a Hell of a Town

Hot off the presses -

Sara Vaughan graces the cover in a sharply designed orange, black and white design for the first issue of Brown, January 1954.  At Flickr

Brown v01n01 (1954-01.Sepia)

A pocket-sized edition, download it to your phone and you can have it in your pocket, too!

Get the Darwination Edition .cbr live and direct here.

or read it online at the Internet Archive or access alternate formats here.

I'm taking a new approach with some of these pocket magazines.  I absolutely adore them, but the two page splash (essential in how they are designed and read) can make for an intensive edit if executed with seamless joins.  I'm going to go with a fairly roughshod approach where the seam shows on most of these just so I can get through more of them and keep the line moving.  There is always the option to scan them in two page spreads, but the production is so poor that parts of the photos are often meandering to either side of the staple (speaking of, I don't like that staple near my glass).  And on that note, the way the pages line up side to side with the photos and page numbers can kind of be all over the place, even in some of the better produced mags like this one.  A strict archival approach might go with a two page spread, as is, scan (still absolutely beautiful and a great option) to show the printing eccentricities, but I'm going with something in the middle here (versus a presentation like that SHE I did recently or one of my favorite scans that Teen-Age Gangsters one-shot).  

But editing notes aside, let's dig in.


Who published this? is a reasonable first question to ask looking at a v01n01.  My first guess would have been that it is a John Johnson publication, but the New York address rules that out quickly - plus Johnson liked to have his name printed somewhere on his magazine covers 😏 There's a photo inside of the Girl of the Month reading DARE in here which also might be a clue - publishers just love to show pictures of pretty girls reading their magazines:

One of the issues of Dare lists Milt Machlin as editor and publisher, so I'm leaning towards this as a possibility.  More sleuthing required unless one of you gumshoes or knowing readers might clue us in down in the comments.  The publisher is something you like to know about a magazine to put it in context with other magazines, but the indicia shell game can make that hard.  For this magazine, there's the question of whether it was "black owned" or if it was a known publisher aiming at a black audience -  an interesting question but of secondary importance to the content.  A white-owned magazine might genuinely serve a black audience in manner and scope just as black-owned magazine might peddle a profitable and exploitative variety of sleaze.  And my regular readers know I don't mean this as knock on sleaze *cough*

I guess what I'm saying is the best way to know the soul of a magazine is to read a magazine, so let's do.

The opener

The Kinsey Report.  Such a huge phenomenon, all the magazines wanted a piece of this naughty report everyone was talking about. SEX SELLS, and omg we are having it.  What's even more taboo than sex? Interracial sex.  Some frank talk about white boys dreaming of black girls, because, surprise, they do.  Why no data on black respondents in Kinsey?  Brown and the people on the street have some ideas, mostly having to do with modesty.

Or wait. Maybe if Kinsey had black interviewers on his team he could have gotten the lowdown?  Maybe blacks are actually more religious and old-fashioned??  Followers of the faith? (and you have to love how the writer gets the digs in at these womanizing preachers, so good).  And what would an article on sex be without a girl in bikini and heels.  Pay no attention, men, to that graph on the left.  It looks like your wife is more apt to fool around over 30 👿

What a gem, followed by Basie AND Ellington?!

White, Black, and Red all over, you've got to love the look of the magazine here with the neat use of the red ink to accent the photography and layout.  Analog graphic design may have things to teach.  Great pics of The Duke, The Count, and Lockjaw, and if you had a time machine this might be the sort of event you'd pick out to visit. Hell, it's nice just to visit in our magazine time machine.  Ellington is in a class of his own, but Basie is up in that pantheon, too. (Darwination movie recommend, shout out Kansas City, The Last of the Blue Devils (1979)

Next up, a survey of events affecting the black man in the armed forces.  Interesting mention here of narcotics addiction following those who serve overseas home as well as quick mention of racial animosity within the services (swept under the rug?). Followed by an article on blacks captured in Korea - is the black man more vulnerable to enemy brainwashing? 

No doubt the commies like to use race as a divider in propaganda. Hell, both right wing and left wing politicians in the U.S.A. like to do this too.  So these poor fuckers get out of miserable P.O.W. camps AND have to be under suspicion of red influence?  Damn. Beating white COs in front of black prisoners to win them to your side? Damn.

After such depressing reportage, it's a good time to cut to cheesecake - 

A snake charmer at Club Savannah.  Slither and hiss, yikes, mama

One more full story excerpt.  It's not just white and black racial tension in New York, what about this influx of Peurto Ricans?  And if you don't think there are some similar tensions today, you're crazy. Mexican work crews often get jacked on paydays here in Memphis - carrying cash, unlikely to report if illegal, not likely to be packing, but there's a racial component, too.  

With the 50th anniversary of hip-hop, there has been much "birth of hip-hop" docu material, and I am flabbergasted at footage of New York in the 70s.  Of course, I don't know what Harlem looked like at the time compared to the Bronx, but here we see Harlem twenty years earlier.  Today we see new tensions regarding immigration in New York what with a broken border and southern governors sending busloads.  There are no easy answers, but perhaps an immigration bill is in order. Compromise? You know, sausage making and negotiating and the like? Fixing problems instead of stamping feet and taking ridiculous open border or no new immigrants stances?  Just an idea.  The wings have this country tied in knots, all posture and no progress.  (sorry, I try not to get into too much politics here but sheeeeeeeit)

Also in the issue, black fraternities, Milt Campbell, Joe Louis, a Parisian hairdresser perfects hair straightening, Eartha Kitt, and more.  Really a great mag with a fascinating perspective, I've got more of these we may see down the line. But that's true of so many titles, and I do like to stick and move pop pop pop

To the gods of love and the sun, Aissata on the back cover

Thursday, September 7, 2023

Re-run? Re-Edit! The Killers #1, 1947 / L.B. Cole's Rogue Gallery

It's been too long between posts here, but I've been busy, dammit :D 

Getting the kids off to school involved much travel, energy, and anticipation, and the first time with an empty nest in almost 20 years is something else, too.  SO QUIET. Except for the hum of the scanner, whoop whoop.

Also distracting (and fun) has been my first foray into selling on eBay.  Oh, the buying I'm well acquainted with, but this other side of the coin is a different ballgame.  My regular readers have seen me make fun of collectors over the years (lacking a bit of self-awareness on my part, as I've come to realize, I, too, despite my preoccupation with filling out the scan record, am a collector).  Now I've got a better view of what makes up another large part of the market (particularly the comic market) - the speculators.  Flippers, slabbers, dealers that ride their reputation and customer base.  These people deserve to be made fun of, too.  And if you can't beat 'em, join em, eh?  Hustle hustle.  I'd rather sell to a collector than a speculator, but you know who I really like to have all the comics and the mags and the pulps? THE READER.

Anyways, I don't know why I've taken so long to take stock of all the magazines, comics, and newspapers I've collected over the years, but every box I dig into is a surprise.  An absolute wonderland in my closet (a big, overflowing closet, heh heh).  Sure there's junk in there - wonderful junk.  I've got magazines I couldn't sell for five bucks that I'm gripping to more tightly than some golden age and pulp treasures.  It's proof that collecting for me is more of a sentimental thing.  

In previous moves, I've witnessed the peace following a possessions purge.  Do I really need all this shit?  No.  Am I going to part with my favorite girlie pulps? Hell no.  But two kids in college is expensive (FOR REAL, don't get me started) and, by streamlining my collection, I can ease that pain ever so slightly and along the way flip old treasures into new ones, because it's not like I'm gonna stop tracking down scan targets.  Scan hunter for life, baby.

But getting rid of books isn't so simple for a scanner.  Every book I consider selling begs questions.  Has this been scanned?  What does that scan look like?  A beautiful scan by somebody else makes this easy.  I'm often happy to ship a book if I have a nice scan.  No, a scan isn't the same as a book you can touch and feel and smell.  On the other hand, you can read a scan on the toilet with greasy fingers, put a thousand of them on your phone, read them with the lights out, and they don't make your house smell like skunky pulp (a smell I love, my wife not so much) or litter your bed with pulp flakes.  As a READER, scans have a lot to offer.  It's sad in some ways, but I don't buy as many new books in print anymore.  Digital is nice for a lot of things.  Not to mention the paper waste, transportation costs, etc., involved in the analog process might be reduced in our ongoing societal shift. 

Still, the death of the magazine pains me.  I love magazines.  This thing I've studied for decades now and that I cherished before that is gone.  My kids don't know about checking the mailbox for BMX magazines or thumbing through the family Newsweek or reading that issue I got at the record store of MRR for the third time.  I'm going to celebrate all these things for my readers here, but that shit's gone.  And I could type of the vapidity and current state of journalism (TEN THINGS I LIKE ABOUT THIS MOVIE - yeah, that's a title that'll suck me in you Gen Z stooge) but it's best I not go there.  That Vonnegut paperback I read as teen, pages falling out, moisture stains all around? It's more precious to me than 99.9% of the books I own.  Well, today, I'm likely reading a new "paperback" on a screen, never to hold the actual book in my hands.  It's ok, I can do this.  Art books and the like I still buy, and I'll buy physical copies to support authors or publishers (support living artists, yo), but the paper copies of books don't pile up like they used to, that's for sure.  

When I used to travel as a young man - any town worth being in - two sites I'm going to see #1 the local record store (still do that) and #2 used booksellers (my wife learned over the years just to send me on my own during that portion of a trip zzz).  Pre-internet, when I wanted to find books by favorite authors, it's not like you'd hit Google and have a bibliography.  Maybe you'd get a hip recommendation from a friend or professor, more often you're looking at the first page of the book you have and the "books by this author" page trying to discover your next destination.  Looking for more Ishmael Reed?  Maybe a Jim Thomspon you didn't know about?  The place I found that stuff was all over in little secondhand bookstores.  A beautiful treasure hunt.  Would I trade those old experiences for what we can do now and find almost any out of print print paperback dirt cheap, delivered to your door in two days?  Nah.  

Even better, with digital, I can lay hands on a book or magazine seconds after a random thought.  As a historian and even just a reader, this is like a superpower.  The way an agile digital historian can navigate through the golden age of comics right now is unprecedented or wander through covers and indicia of obscure magazines.  Mind you, the record needs to be filled out for all of these publications that will never see the inside of a library, but that's what we are about on Darwination Scans isn't it.  And if you consider yourself a collector and bearer of some of this arcane history (I'm talking to you, pulpsters), IT IS YOUR DUTY TO SEE THE RAREST PARTS OF YOUR COLLECTION SCANNED.  I do not give a fuck if you have the most beautiful pulp collection with high grade covers or runs of magazines I've never even seen a copy of.  I do appreciate your insights into these things, though.  However, I'd appreciate the whole world's insights even more.  These are our texts, and easy access means a wider understanding.  Sure I can pontificate about the wonders of something like Duke magazine. And I will.  But scanning my copy and putting it on the Internet Archive means everybody else can, too.  And somebody else is that way going to write something brilliant about those magazines I'd never even think of.  This paper is going to crumble (pulp and newsprint very quickly).  If three guys have the last copies of a scarce 20s pulp, and that means those three are super valuable and there is hesitation to put it on the scanner glass, I get that. And yet, somebody has to see to it. One of those three guys, specifically.  Sure, microfilm or some atrocious institutional scan might be out there, but we can do better than that.  A photo scan if need be, but do consider that a good scan celebrates the art and legacy and is the best way to get next generations to understand the wonders of a the people's library. 

Wow, did I get off track there *cough* Anyways, before I sell a book, I end up going through my scan or other people's scans and checking what the scan record shows.  If a scan by somebody else can use a cover upgrade, I'll do that (like this one this week, the copy that got scanned was lacking blue inks on the cover).  Maybe if the existing scan is super small or otherwise not what it might be, I'll go ahead and scan my copy before I let it go.  As I look back at my old scans, too, I see improvements that might be made.  In some cases, as I'm upping these books to the Internet Archive (my shelf), I'll go back to the edited .tifs and release a higher resolution version, maybe tweak some colors, fill in pages that were missing, etc.  Today's scan is one of those.  This is a comic that I acquired from the Philippines in rough shape (very) with a big part of the front cover missing.  Fortunately, I was able to use a Heritage image for the cover restore, but unfortunately the excellent two page text story from Gardner Fox was damaged.  Now, with Worthpoint, a nice resource for a scanner these days, a friend was able to locate a low-res but readable image of the damaged page I was able to use to make the page complete.  Looking at older scans can be tough for a self-critic, but this was pretty decent.  I did perform a fresh color edit, though, from the original .tifs (taking some of the yellow out of the page color and tweaking colors and saturation here and there) and while I'm at it, offer higher quality images.  I've done pretty well at staying ahead of the curve in terms of image quality (width people, width) compared to norms but nonetheless welcome higher quality images to go with the rising storage and bandwidth capabilities we have today over 15 years ago.   Some of the earliest scans of rare comic books have to be redone.  Not because of the poor scan but because of the way they were presented (dial-up, anyone?).  Comic collectors have issues 😂 and the need to have small files for the purpose of a large, uniform archive probably wasn't the most forward looking approach to preservation.  A pity when we are talking about valuable or, worse, scarce comics that will need to hit the glass again. Enough already out of me!  Let's get to what you're here for - THE KILLERS

A better look at the cover here.

L.B. Cole, 1947.  A rouges' gallery, bodies stacked high in the foreground.  I don't know if I've talked about Cole here on my blog before, but he was an absolute genius.  What he does with color and composition, man.  I've been working on a gallery (working mainly from auction house images, I can't afford his classics) that you can peep here, more additions to come.

Get the high-res comic scan straight from the horse's mouth (signed with scanner tag) here.

or you can view it online or download alternate formats at the Internet Archive here.

From Magazine Enterprises in 1947, this issue is a notorious example of Pre-code mayhem.  On Overstreet's top ten list of crime issues, this is one of the comics your mama warned you about, violent filth! yassssss

I'll post the Gardner Fox story since that's the reason for the re-edit. Text repair is a bitch (just ask my fellow pulp scanners if you really want to know), but sometimes necessary for completing a story or reconstructing an indicia.  This particular story is a great example of a well-done two pager.  These stories could be horrible, often went unread, and are little appreciated.  However, there's some good ones yet to be "discovered" too.  Gardner Fox was prolific with these and provided thousands of text stories in the comics (and I do wish his wiki I've linked there gave a little more weight to his pulp work).  Sometimes these two pagers would be at the centerfold, sometimes elsewhere.  I really like this approach with the story on the inner front and back cover (prime advertising space, I know).  Hopefully this is easily readable in Blogger's image system, but doubtful, grr.

 The lead story, Mr. Zin - The Hatchet Killer from Paul Parker, a violent take on the Yellow Menace.

A better look here.

A member at the Digital Comics Museum remarked this week on this comic, "Very well done comic, but so violent and racist by today’s standards!"  Yes, indeed.  And I think it was even by then standards, as Dr. Wertham gives it mention in his Seduction of the Innocent. However, we aren't about throwing the baby out with the bathwater when it comes to the comics, pulps, and magazines of  yesteryear, and I'm sure I'll find a much more offensive example than this one to occasion a deep dive on that topic 😅

If a hatchet to the head or running down cops isn't enough, how about a little flagellation, that Dr. Zin is a bad, bad man.

I like the weird villain in the third entry, Poison Claw Killer, artist unknown


A better look here.

And even if there's some racism and stereotyping in this type of comic, check the awareness of the realities. The third entry, from Charles Quinlan (who I dig), in They Tricked the Schoolgirl's Killer! pretty succinctly shows the plight of the black man.

Of course, Black Ace never gets mentioned in the story again after that LMAO, sigh.

And, lastly, there's the fun Ace High, Private Eye story from Vernon Henkel in which a very strange villain meets a loopy end.

Anyways, enjoy the comic.  I know I enjoyed returning to it, and I'm happy to have a new version out with the complete Fox text story.

I'm not going to do this often (and doubt I'll have the occasion to so neatly), but the physical copy I worked from can be yours on eBay in all it's tattered glory right here.

Man, I need to do this more often, as I've enjoyed myself this morning.  Blogging is a funny thing, as the inspiration comes and goes.  Just sitting down at the typewriter is the first and hardest step for me, I don't know why.