There was also a thriving underdog cult around that actively idolized criminals – especially if they managed to stay free for long and thereby made fun of the police. Many things were pooled together – the crime cult, prurient interest and/or ditto ill will, the will to make a fast buck in a new medium etc – and suddenly the True Crime phenomenon was born.
In a recent tome from mighty Taschen called True Crime: Detective Magazines 1924-1969, we can literally dive into a lurid world of tough men, femme fatales and devious plans to overthrow everything that's good and decent. Whether based in real crime cases or feverishly creative editorial minds, the magazines (and their artwork, often staggeringly brilliant) here become blinking beacons of sordid pleasures and double standards. The esthetics alone signify a very special synthesis of attraction (real) and repellation (imposed).
What made these magazines truly thrive was the intelligent application of "justification": "Sure, mom, the girls almost have no clothes on, but it's not a dirty magazine – it's a detective magazine". So, perfect, millions of men and, I'm sure, a great number of women too could enjoy a world of no rules, rebellion, crime, violence, drugs and damsels in dire (and deserved!) distress. Double standards in a very seductive packaging.
The readers loved these crime "fighting" magazines. The cops did too. J Edgar Hoover wrote for them occasionally. But of course, what sold them were mainly the covers, at first beautifully painted but later, from the 1950s and onwards, using photographs of tied up women and brutal gangsters. Always with screaming sensationalism in haunting headlines and catch phrases: "I was queen of the stag party strippers!", "Human stew in Hell's Kitchen", "COD: Cyanide On Delivery", "Honky Tonk Murders", "I had nothing to lose but my virtue!" etc. Suck on that, contemporary copy cats and kittens.
This book is a phantasmagory-ical trip through a publishing culture long gone. Spread after spread of a colorful cornucopia of crime and carnage. Immorality dressed in morality's best outfits – the best combo ever! Texts by scholarly minds and people who worked with the real mags spice things up even more. I'm perplexed at how much I love this book. It's an active time machine back to a time when men were men, women were women and you couldn't trust a single soul. Those were the days!
True Crime: Detective Magazines 1924-1969. Taschen 2013. Written by Eric Godtland and edited by Dian Hanson.
All material on this blog is copyright © Carl Abrahamsson, unless otherwise stated.
|WWW.EDDA.SE – Great books on subjects that matter and matters that subject!|