Charles Biro and Bob Wood rightfully deserve credit for creating – and perfecting – the crime comics format that swept through the latter half of comics’ Golden Age. Jack Cole, however, kicked the genre into another gear altogether with his contributions to Magazine Village’s True Crime Comics title.
Of all of Cole’s crime comics, “Murder, Morphine And Me” from True Crime Comics #2 is easily the best remembered thanks to Dr. Fredric Wertham (there’s that name again) and the infamous “injured eye motif” panel. That selfsame issue, though, contained other tales that were just as outrageously brilliant.
As an example, here’s Cole’s take on the legend of Sawney Bean, a mass murderer and cannibal who led a 48-member clan that reportedly terrorized Scotland in the 1500s. Cole admittedly plays fast and loose with the “facts,” but his characteristically breakneck storytelling skills and genre-bending art that somehow balances out humor and horror creates an unforgettable story that would stand out in any era of comics.
From True Crime Comics #2 (Magazine Village, May 1947), here’s Jack Cole’s “Demons Dance On Galloway Moor.”