Cruel and unusual punishment.
We’ve already shared a couple of issues of Myron Fass’s true crime magazine Crime Does Not Pay. You can see those here and here. This issue is from October 1970 and features yet another hapless victim of diabolical torture. This is probably the most extreme piece we’ve seen from this magazine (notice the two women in the rear awaiting the same treatment) and of course it’s uncredited, but it does resemble Fass’s own work, actually. Crime Does Not Pay had featured regular tabloid-style covers since its launch in 1968, but sometime in late 1969 Fass decided to use the same sort of violent, painted covers that had been appearing on his other imprints like Weird and Terror Tales. These painted issues of Crime Does Not Pay are incredibly rare—so far we’ve seen four. But we’ll keep looking.
This is the last time she tries to tackle a problem head-on.
Here's an amazing cover of Master Detective published this month in 1962 featuring a woman being menaced by a giant disembodied head. Design-wise, we think this is inspired stuff. There are more than one hundred true crime magazine covers inside Pulp Int., and you can see them in chronological order by clicking here.
Six murders, scarce leads, and a city gripped by fear.
This two-color cover from Headquarters Detective appeared in March 1958 and features a pose that you see quite a bit on vintage crime magazines—the man standing above a terrorized woman, often with a phallic symbol in hand. We’ve been gathering up some covers in this style and we’ll share what we’ve found pretty soon. This cover is also noteworthy because it reports at bottom left on the last of six murders that occurred in the Chicago area between October 1955 and August 1957. Three boys and three girls ranging from ages eleven to fifteen were stripped, battered, strangled, and in the cases of two of the girls, raped.
But it was the sixth murder that truly horrified already shaken Chicago residents. The killer—and if it was the same killer his violent tendencies were growing—dismembered Judith Anderson and set the body parts afloat in Montrose Harbor in two metal drums. The smaller drum contained the girl’s head, right arm and left hand, the second the rest of her. The head had four bullets in it. Police followed many leads—according to at least one account they investigated 109,000 homes, 40,000 to 50,000 garages and basements, 900 businesses, and 200 boats. They heard countless confessions, all of which turned out to be false—save for possibly one.
Some local fishermen told police that several nights before Anderson’s remains turned up they saw a car on the opposite shore of the harbor. They knew it had backed up to the water because they could see its brake lights. A person they described as well-built got out, opened the trunk of the car and threw something—or several somethings—into the water. When he drove away they noticed that one of his brake lights was out. The detail of the broken light helped generate a suspect, someone with a criminal record and a history of sexual violence, but police were never able to pin the killing on him even though at least one investigator claimed he had confessed. Ultimately police never solved Anderson's murder, or the other five.
It’s the color that says you refuse to go unnoticed.
In fashion they say it takes a confident woman to wear a red dress. In pulp, it takes a woman with a death wish. Below are fourteen pulp, adventure, and detective magazine covers illustrating that point, with art by Bud Parke, George Gross, Barye Phillips and others, as well as a couple of photo-illustrations.
, Manhunt Detective Story Monthly
, Master Detective
, Police Detective Cases
, Terror Detective Story Magazine
, Daring Magazine
, Dime Detective Magazine
, True Detective
, True Crime Exposé
, Man’s Story
, True Magazine
, Timely Detective Cases
, Bud Parke
, George Gross
, Barye Phillips
, magazine art
, true crime magazine
If ever anyone was born under a bad sign it was surely him.
Crime always raises difficult social questions, and it seems to be the belief of each generation that the crimes are ever worse. But this issue of Official Detective Stories from fifty-one years ago details crimes, a criminal, and an entire set of circumstances that could have appeared on today’s front pages. It was the case of Michael Andrew Olds, a troubled Walla Walla, Washington youth who caused all of America to wonder, at least briefly, what had happened to the country they thought they knew.
Michael Olds was conceived via rape. His mother was fourteen when it happened, fifteen when she gave birth. Disowned by her relatives, she and her infant son lived wherever they could, and she fed him by stealing milk from front porches. By the time Michael was six months old he was suffering from profound malnourishment. Eventually he was wrested from the girl by state authorities, who placed him in foster care. He was shuttled from home to home, and constantly ran away to search for his mother. He would track her down occasionally, but she had her own difficulties—a series of failed relationships, and three failed marriages—and mother and son were never together for long.
Over the years, Michael developed dangerously violent tendencies. Once, when he was sixteen, he choked a four-year-old girl into unconsciousness. One of the psychologists who profiled him summed him up this way: “I am doubtful that Mike will ever make more than a marginal adjustment, for he has been damaged more than the human personality can stand without permanent scarring.” Nevertheless, he was released from foster care at age eighteen. Months later, on the night of March 28, 1961, he robbed a grocery in Seattle, Washington. On the way out the door he fired two shots, both of which struck a woman named Blossom Braham, who died at the scene. One week later he robbed and held hostage a cab driver. He was arrested later that night, and confessed to Braham’s killing.
Olds was convicted of murder and sentenced to life in prison. His mother was in court the day of sentencing, at right, and while she sounded a note of regret that her and her son’s lives had turned out so badly, Michael was philosophical. He blamed only himself for his predicament. But the American public, as well as many behavioral experts, felt there was blame to go around. One of Michael Olds’ state-appointed psychiatrists said: “In a day when we are thinking about shooting rockets to the moon, we should not allow conditions to exist where a child is starved emotionally and shuttled about.” A local juvenile authority said: “The boy pulled the trigger, but the background of the whole sordid mess began the moment he was brought into the world.”
Sixteen years later Michael Olds was released into the world again. Newly paroled, he went on a violent nationwide rampage, and when it was all done he’d kidnapped five people and shot dead a seventy-five-year-old woman and a cab driver. It was the late 1970s now, and this time through the courts there was not much sympathy for him, yet none of the questions surrounding this murderous child of rape had changed. What hadchanged was that most Americans had hardened toward crime to the extent that they considered the questions immaterial. All that mattered was to make sure Michael Olds preyed on no more innocent people. And that’s exactly what happened. He received two life sentences with no possibility of parole.
Hey, Boss, am I the only one this is putting in the mood for crème brûlée flambé?
Today we have another copy of Myron Fass’s true crime magazine Crime Does Not Pay, with one of its infamous torture covers. We thought the last one was bad, but this time the uncredited artist opts to depict the dreaded blowtorch treatment. This issue is from September 1969, and inside you get stories on Vito Genovese, Elliot Ness, Bugsy Siegel, Abe Hummel, Charles Ponzi, and various other crooks, cops, feds, crooked cops, and crooked feds. Twenty-one scans below, and you can see more gory goodness from Crime Does Not Pay here.
Qui? Police is modern pulp with a very vintage look.
It’s amazing how fertile France is for vintage pulp. It’s by far the best hunting ground after the U.S., and that’s true even in smaller cities like Bayonne. For example, Bayonne is a town that we made time to go to for one reason—because we knew of a restaurant that specialized in duck hearts. Afterward, feeling strong like a duck, we strolled the cobbled side streets and stumbled into two vintage bookshops straightaway. Actually, one was a bookshop. The other was an African handicrafts store with two big shelves of printed matter. See what we mean? Even a handicrafts store might have something great. Qui? Police has a vintage feel, but this issue actually dates from 1979, so that makes it modern pulp, the way we categorize things. So what do we know about this mag? Not much. We saw an issue published in February 1947 that was numbered 33, so on a weekly schedule that gives an inception year of 1946, with the first issue hitting newsstands in June. And that’s pretty much the extent of our knowledge. But we’ll find out more. In the meantime check out the inside of this thing. It’s a black, white, and red amalgam of true crime reportage, grainy photography, excellent courtroom art, cartoon humor, and cheesecake. Paging through it conjures all our favorite French words—crime, vengeance, rage, menace, lurid, voyeur. Did you know those were all French words? Well, there you go. You’re well on way to having the tools you need to survive a trip to France. Eighteen scans below.
She’s picking up hood vibrations.
Nice cover art by Brendan J. Lynch for the September 1958 cover of True Detective. True crime magazines, unlike men’s and tabloid publications, generally didn’t feature high-quality art inside, however we’ve scanned a few pages and posted them below.
Everybody get back or my hairdresser dies!
The above Special Detective-Crime from August 1972 promises tales of thrill-seeking wives and more, but how can we possibly get past the cover? Look at this poor guy. He told his hairstylist to turn him into Rod Stewart but instead she turned him into a Ukrainian field hockey player. The cops are screaming at him to let the woman go, and he’s screaming back that he wants his bangs redone. It’s not going to end well.
A little ingenuity goes a long way.
Above, a cover of Master Detective from July 1949, inside of which is a story on Ruth Snyder. In March 1927 Snyder garroted her husband with the help of her lover, a corset salesman named Henry Judd Gray. The couple had been after insurance money, but instead they were caught, tried, and sentenced to death by means of electrocution. On the day of the event, which took place at Sing Sing Prison, a photographer named Tom Howard entered the execution chamber as a witness. He was under assignment for the New York Daily News, but was actually based in Chicago, which meant he was unknown to prison authorities in the New York area. That was important, because Howard’s assignment was to illegally take a photo of Ruth Snyder’s execution, which had considerable tabloid value because she would be the first woman put to death at Sing Sing since 1899. Howard was ingeniously prepared—he had strapped a camera to his ankle, and had fed a shutter release up one pant leg to an accessible point inside his suit jacket. At the moment the executioner threw the switch, Howard lifted his pant leg and snapped the blurry photo below, which appeared the next day in the New York Daily News under a huge header that read simply: Dead! The issue was a sensation, the image became iconic, and Howard became nationally famous.
The headlines that mattered yesteryear.
1933—The Gestapo Is Formed
The Geheime Staatspolizei, aka Gestapo, the official secret police force of Nazi Germany, is established. It begins under the administration of SS leader Heinrich Himmler in his position as Chief of German Police, but by 1939 is administered by the Reichssicherheitshauptamt, or Reich Main Security Office, and is a feared entity in every corner of Germany and beyond.
1937—Guernica Is Bombed
In Spain during the Spanish Civil War, the Basque town of Guernica is bombed by the German Luftwaffe, resulting in widespread destruction and casualties. The Basque government reports 1,654 people killed, while later research suggests far fewer deaths, but regardless, Guernica is viewed as an example of terror bombing and other countries learn that Nazi Germany is committed to that tactic. The bombing also becomes inspiration for Pablo Picasso, resulting in a protest painting that is not only his most famous work, but one the most important pieces of art ever produced.
In Detective Comics #27, DC Comics publishes its second major superhero, Batman, who becomes one of the most popular comic book characters of all time, and then a popular camp television series starring Adam West, and lastly a multi-million dollar movie franchise starring Michael Keaton, then George Clooney, and finally Christian Bale.
1953—Crick and Watson Publish DNA Results
British scientists James D Watson and Francis Crick publish an article detailing their discovery of the existence and structure of deoxyribonucleic acid, or DNA, in Nature magazine. Their findings answer one of the oldest and most fundamental questions of biology, that of how living things reproduce themselves.
1967—First Space Program Casualty Occurs
Soviet cosmonaut Vladimir Komarov dies in Soyuz 1 when, during re-entry into Earth's atmosphere after more than ten successful orbits, the capsule's main parachute fails to deploy properly, and the backup chute becomes entangled in the first. The capsule's descent is slowed, but it still hits the ground at about 90 mph, at which point it bursts into flames. Komarov is the first human to die during a space mission.
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