I’m back from the comic shop this week and I got 2 new comics plus a hard cover collection:

  • Usagi Yojimbo – 114
  • Supernatural – Rising Son – 6
  • Omega The Unknown HC
  • And now for a review of something I’ve read recently.

  • “It Rhymes With Lust” by Drake Waller and Matt Baker
  • This is a book that has been on my Amazon wish list for about a year. Since I occasionally buy books from them, especially comic collections, their computer picks out other things I might like and displays them on the page for me. All I knew about it was from the quick blurb on the site but it interested me enough to put it on my list. Where it languished.

    Then, as I was reading a book I got for my birthday, “Ten Cent Plague”, a book about the comic book scare of the Forties and Fifties and how it affected society, they mentioned “It Rhymes With Lust”. This book originally came out in 1949 (this volume is a Dark Horse Replica Edition 2007) and was the brain child of writers Arnold Drake and Leslie Waller (hence the Drake Waller writer’s credit). They could see how the popularity of comics had grown and how there were lots of GI’s who read comics in the army who might now want some more adult themed comics. This is a digest sized black and white comic and, unfortunately, in 1949 retailers had no idea where to stock it. With the comics, the magazines, the books? It was too new and only a couple of hundred ever hit the store shelves.

    That’s a shame because this comic really took me by surprise. I didn’t think this level of sophistication in a comic existed in 1949. The drawing and storytelling by artist Matt Baker are first rate and reminiscent of the style found in the adventure comic strips of the day. There is nothing of the Golden Age crudeness that I am so used to in old comics here.

    The plot and script are also clearly written for adults. It’s the story of a town called Copper City and a washed up jaded reporter who rolls into town to find an old girlfriend who’s husband has just died. The husband was a crooked political boss in this crooked town and now his wife “Rust” (our hero’s old girlfriend) wants to take control of her deceased hubby’s rackets.

    It’s written in the style of the not quite film noir crime movies of the time. Lots of sex and violence but none of it is explicit. There is absolutely no talking down to the reader as you are obviously supposed to be an adult to read this. It’s also interesting to note that I have read a few comics written in a similar style but they were made years later. They are usually draped in nostalgia and irony with maybe a little tongue in cheek humor going on. Those books are imitating the pop culture that this book is part of. It’s nice to read the real thing.

    At about 125 pages this book takes a while to get through. It’s got more words that the average comic does today but it’s not overwritten. The style is more like a crime movie or pulp novel with lots of character banter and descriptive narration.

    I’ve read comics my whole life and I really never knew one this sophisticated was made in 1949. It’s a shame that in the 1950’s comics were set back 20 years by Congressional hearings and the Comics Code Authority. If more stuff like this came out back then the whole comic book landscape would be different. Give it a read.