Having caused a moral panic in the 50s, violent pulp comics are preparing for a revival with sharply drawn tales of peep shows, gangsters and neer-do-wells
Sixty-odd years ago, crime comics packed with lurid depictions of violent criminal activity caused a moral panic in the US, with titles such as
Crime Does Not Pay! raising fears of an impressionable generation being warped by sex, drugs and rough justice.
The crime titles, along with the
horror comics published by the likes of EC, were the subject of Dr Frederic Werthams infamous takedown Seduction of the Innocent, which led to the comics industry cleaning up and sanitising its act through the creation of the self-regulating Comics Code Authority.
But now it looks like crime does actually pay as a new stable of comics promising the gritty, sexy, violent world of noir movies and novels is set to launch. Get ready for tales of femme fatales, prohibition-busting gangsters, and lots of the sort of stuff that would have Dr W spinning in his grave.
The new comics line is the result of a team-up between
Hard Case Crime, purveyors of fine crime novels, and Titan Comics, which publishes many monthly titles based on properties such as Doctor Who and Sherlock. Peepland: taking readers back to the sleaze of 80s Times Square. Photograph: Hard Case comics
Theyve got a stellar lineup of talent set to bring comics back down to street level, including
Walter Hill, director of 1979 cult classic gang movie The Warriors writing with collaborator Matz and artist Jef Triggerman, a tale of a convict in Prohibition-era Chicago on a mission to save the girl he left behind.
Thats the first Hard Case Comics title to hit the stands, on 5 October, followed a week later by
Peepland. Written by crime authors Gary Phillips and Christa Faust herself a former peep show employee with art from rising star Andrea Camerini, the comic lifts the lid on the seedy goings-on at 1980s Times Square peep show booths.
And making the move from the Hard Crime novels stable is
Max Allan Collins, whose Quarry series has been a bestseller for the publisher and is in production as a TV show. Collins no stranger to comics, having turned his hand to a certain Dark Knight for DC comics, among many others will be adapting Quarry into comic form for a 2017 release.
Charles Ardai, editor of the Hard Case Crime novel range which has published work by Stephen King, Mickey Spillane, Ed McBain and Donald E Westlake, the move into comics was a no-brainer.
Before I became a mystery reader, I was a comic book fan so the chance to expand Hard Case Crime into the world of comics is a dream come true, he says. The sharp, tough, high-velocity stories we tell are a natural for the medium.
Gun to thea head: a page from Triggerman Photograph: Supplied
Titan Comics, which is based in the UK, will be pushing the new series at the
New York Comic-Con which runs 6 to 9 October, with Ardai of Hard Case and the creators of the comics, including Christa Faust, attending.
As well as its licensed property comics, many based on video games such as Assassins Creed and Dishonored, Titan will also be introducing its forthcoming line of horror comics based on characters from the classic Hammer movies, with the first title,
The Mummy, by veteran comic writer Peter Milligan.
They are also planning a revival of Hook Jaw, a gory shark series modelled on Jaws which was first featured in the controversially violent British weekly comic Action four decades ago.
Between these horror comics and the hook-up with Hard Case Crime, it almost feels as though were entering into a fresh golden age of comics doing the job they were intended to corrupting the innocent minds of young people.
Originally found at