Despite best efforts the perpetrator remains unknown.
We’re sharing this hyperviolent true crime magazine front because the art resembles that from yesterday’s post of Tom Palmer covers for The Crime Machine. Crime Does Not Pay has no art credits, so we can’t be sure who painted the covers, but we doubt it’s Tom Palmer because, while similar in mood, Crime Does Not Pay is more cartoonish. Artists' styles evolve, of course, and a couple of years separate the two magazines, but we still doubt it's the same guy. We checked every site online that deals in these sorts of publications and none of them had a name. We also have two full issues of Crime Does Not Pay and there are definitely no art credits anywhere inside, and the pieces are unsigned to boot, so we don’t even have a pair of initials or some illegible scrawl to work from. So the above cover art—brilliant and ingenious—remains uncredited. See the other three examples of Crime Does Not Pay here, here, and here.
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.
Tabloid journalism is all about finding the quickest way from A to B.
We’ve never seen this one before. It’s the American tabloid Limelight, published today in 1966, with someone who looks quite a bit like famed nude model Margaret Nolan on the cover posing as the title story’s jilted lover. This is an example of what we like to think of as editorial economy—i.e., the process of getting from raw material to end story in the most concise way possible. You have a photo of a woman wearing a man’s suit jacket and—voilà!—you write a story that the jacket is all she has left of a boyfriend who (this is where “tabloid” comes in) changed his sex. Ingenious, really. Actually, it might have been even more economical to write that the woman used to be a man and wears the jacket out of sadness and nostalgia: Woman Who Was Once Man Says Sex Change Was a Mistake. We have a feeling sleaze publisher nonpareil Myron Fass was behind this newspaper. Limelight is not listed anywhere as one of his publications, but we doubt those lists are complete. We’ll dig for more info.
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.
Once upon a crime in America.
Myron Fass knew how to sell magazines, especially violent, lurid, depraved magazines. Crime Does Not Pay (not the same as the identically named comic book) is a perfect example. Basically it was just a true crime magazine, but with a focus on iconic American crimes and criminals, with a liberal dose of splatter thrown in. Some of the covers were crime scene photos, but examples we’ve seen from 1969 featured beautiful (if extremely gory) paintings that we suspect appealed to readers younger than those who normally bought crime mags. Above, for example, you see the cover of the December 1969 issue (no artist info appears in the masthead, sadly). Below are twenty-five images, including shots of Charles Starkweather, John Dillinger, Al Capone, Bonnie Parker, Lester Gillis on a slab, and more. You can read a bit more about Myron Fass here.
And the wiener is…
Above, a cover of Myron Fass’s over-the-top tabloid National Mirror, published today in 1969. Our choice for best story: “Crazed Firemen Put Out Fire Naturally.” How much you wanna bet the phrase “weenie roast” pops up in there somewhere? See more National Mirror here and here.
The sixties were largely about sexual liberation, but National Mirror was the other reflection of the times.
Here’s yet another mid-century tabloid, the low-rent National Mirror. This one was published today in 1969, and the paper as a whole was part of the Myron Fass stable, running from 1965 to 1973. Its editorial niche was forced sex, which is to say we’ve never seen a cover that didn’t feature the words “rape,” “molest,” or “assault.” There’s even a well-known cover about an actress being raped by a gorilla. If every good outcome accidentally creates an opposite consequence, then it's easy to see how the long overdue sexual liberation of the sixties that freed women to make their own choices unleashed a backlash of male resentment personified by the audience for these tabloids. If women couldn’t be kept in their place in the real world, at least they could be controlled—indeed abused—in print. Is that assumption about Mirror readers too big of a leap to make? It might seem so, looking at just one cover. But if we posted fifteen, and you saw the rape theme repeated on each one, you’d probably say, “Ah, okay, they’ve got a point there.” The good news is these types of tabloids have all disappeared, which gives us the freedom to enjoy them as historical curiosities. The bad news is today’s sales figures for violent porn teach us that only the medium has changed, not the message. That said, we’re well aware that many people see any reproduction of female nudity as a form of sexual violence, but that’s overreaching, in our opinion. Our rule is simple: Nudity and sex good, nonconsensual nudity and sex bad. Unless you’re crazy, it’s impossible to get confused.
Hush-Hush News publisher Myron Fass was the king of sleaze.
Hush-Hush News is a fresh addition to the Pulp Intl. tabloid collection, and though it’s an obscure imprint, it was owned by Myron Fass, who was one of the kings of American sleaze publishing during the sixties and seventies. He started as a comic book artist in 1946, and worked in that field until the mid 1950s. The satire magazine Lunatickle was his first publishing venture, and he moved into tabloid publishing soon afterward. Fass specialized in one-offs—editions meant to be printed only once. During the height of his empire he published fifty titles a month, covering any subject matter he thought would sell—wrestling, UFOs, punk music, horror movies, conspiracy, psychic phenomena, and so forth. His celebrity mags included Cockeyed, Exposed, The National Mirror, and Pic, all of which we’ll show you later. The above paper hit the streets today in 1971, and it features the usual combination of sexual teasing and race-baiting, but the most interesting thing to us is the shift we see inside from old to new school Hollywood. People like Stacy Keach, Patty Duke, and Steve McQueen are featured, while Hollywood gods like Frank Sinatra and Cary Grant have virtually faded from the scene. But the new school stars perhaps didn’t capture imaginations like the old guard, because in a few more years, a market that had once been glutted with tabloids would feature only a few. We’ll have more issues of Hush-Hush News in the future.
The headlines that mattered yesteryear.
1911—Mona Lisa Disappears
Leonardo da Vinci's masterpiece, the Mona Lisa, aka La Gioconda, is stolen from the Louvre. After many wild theories and false leads, it turns out the painting was snatched by museum employee Vincenzo Peruggia.
1940—Trotsky Iced in Mexico
In Mexico City exiled Russian revolutionary Leon Trotsky is fatally wounded with an ice axe
(not an ice pick) by Soviet agent Ramon Mercader. Trotsky dies the next day.
1968—Prague Spring Ends
200,000 Warsaw Pact troops backed by 5,000 tanks invade Czechoslovakia to end the Prague Spring political liberalization movement.
1986—Sherrill Goes Postal
In Edmond, Oklahoma, United States postal employee Patrick Sherrill shoots and kills fourteen of his co-workers and then commits suicide.
1953—Mohammed Mossadegh Overthrown in Iran
At the instigation of the CIA, Prime Minster of Iran Mohammed Mossadegh is overthrown and the Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi is installed as leader of the country.
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