Rick's Reviews > Crime Does Not Pay Archives, Vol. 1

Crime Does Not Pay Archives, Vol. 1 by Charles Biro
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's review
Jun 01, 2012

really liked it
bookshelves: comics, anthologies

Collecting the first four issues of the infamous pre-code crime comic, this full color hardcover collection of lurid tales features work by some the era's finest artists including Charles Biro, Woody Hamilton, Harry Lucey, Carl Hubbell, Bob Montana, George Tuska, Dick Wood, Dick Briefer, Frank Giacoia, Bob Wood, and Dan Barry. Most importantly, the volume contains Biro's grotesque covers that even today would be considered disturbing. One such illustration features a man forcing a woman's head onto a lit stove, igniting her hair. For the most part, the unflinching true crime stories themselves read well and are magnificently illustrated. The book's main flaw lies not with the original Crime Does Not Pay comics but rather the Dark Horse presentation. Beyond the brief Matt Fraction foreword, the archive offers little in the way of background material. The back cover and Fraction allude to the series being "partially responsible for the creation of the stifling Comics Code Authority," but not the hows and whys. No backgrounds or biographies of any of the creators are included. Nor the origin of the title or concept. Also, the series started with issue #22. Why? What title preceded it? (For the completist out there, it bore the title Silver Streak Comics for the first 21 issues.) Establishing historical context elevates any collection of older works and in a $50 volume, these facts often justify the price.
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