February 15, 2010
A cover from Issue #24 of "Crime Does Not Pay," a 1940s crime comic published by Lev Gleason Publications. Yes, that is a woman getting her head shoved into the flames of a gas stove by a psychotic criminal. Yes, this cover graced the newsstands of 1940s America.
These were the days when comic books were more than just superhero stories. They were also the days when comic books sold in the millions of copies and were hugely popular (unlike today, where a few big name titles only sell in the hundreds of thousands, if that).
From the mid-1940s up into the mid-1950s, romance, crime, horror, and war comics were often more popular with readers than superhero comics. Certain politicians, opinion makers, religious leaders, law enforcement types, and busybodies made claims that "Crime Does Not Pay" and other true crime comics contributed to juvenile delinquency and lobbied to get these types of comics banned. Eventually all this hysteria over comics led to the institution of the "Comics Code" in 1954 and it was safe, sterile superheroes from then on out on the newsstands of America.
"Crime Does Not Pay" was known for its provocative and violent covers and Issue #24 does not disappoint!