It's a common misconception that popular media has always been tamer and much less explicit than it is today. In many ways, movies, advertising, magazines, novels and comic books could be every bit as ribald and offensive as they are today (if not more so).
(1950)Anyway, I was paging through some old pre-code gems and was bitch slapped by some downright sadistic comic panels, generally involving horrific violence against women. I guess I shouldn't be surprised, given the fact that this was prior to the 1954 crackdown, when comics were spayed and neutered. Nonetheless, I was both amused and disturbed by some of these pre-code classics.
Sally the Sleuth, 1940
Surprisingly, I find the crime/adventure comics a lot more extreme than the horror ones. The horror comics like Tales from the Crypt and Vault of Horror would often have a gruesome panel or two - maybe a shrunken head or someone getting wacked with an axe. However, the crime and adventure comics seem much more mean spirited. They were the ones that graphically showed murder each and every week, often with a sado-masochistic twist. Ironically, it was the horror comics that got the spotlight when the shit hit the fan in 1954.
I thought I'd share a few of the particularly nasty ones from these crime/adventure comics. Get ready for some mean spirited debauchery from the era of The Great Depression, WWII and post war America. It's probably safe for work.... but your co-workers may think you're a sociopath. Enjoy!
Dan Turner, Hollywood Detective, 1944
And last but not least. This is from a 1947 cover, and I kid you not, these comics were intended for kids (for the most part). If you look through the comic, you'll find lots of advertising for children This particular comic has ads for a "Dick Tracy 2-Way Radio" and a pine derby race car!
Girl 1: SO!! You couldn't see me because you had a date with the boys! All right, wise guy, you asked for it! I'm gonna have a chat with the Cops! OH!!
Guy: Can I help it if you're too dumb to know when you're gettin' the brush off! GO AHEAD BIG MOUTH, squeal to the Cops! I'd like to see you try it!
Girl 2: Step aside, Frankie!! Let me give her a goin' over, woman style! I'd like to sharpen my nails on that fat face!!