CRIME DOES NOT PAY ARCHIVES VOL. 4 (Dark Horse, First Printing, 2013; Hardcover)
Collects Crime Does Not Pay #34-37 (cover dates July, 1944- January, 1945)
Writers: Dick Wood, Dick Briefer, and other, unidentified writers.
Artists: Robert Q. Sale, “Irving” (identity unknown), Dick Briefer, Rudy Palais, R.W. Hall, Art Gates, C.L. Hartman (as Art Mann), Alan Mandel, and other, unidentified artists, with cover art for all issues by Charles Biro.
The title is still climbing the mountain in this book. The writing and artwork all vary wildly in terms of quality, with some of it being brilliant while other stories are about as interesting as watching paint dry. I've read the Crime Does Not Pay Primer trade years ago and know that there is some great stuff on the horizon.
Mister Crime is the host of the series, breaking the fourth wall and talking to the reader while the characters in the stories remain unaware of his existence. All of the stories in this book are based on true stories.
This title was a precursor to our current day sensationalist culture which thrives on watching trainwrecks and car accidents. The criminals were the “stars” of the series, although they always receive their due at the end of each story. The title spawned so many imitators that by 1950 that by the end of the decade one in seven titles on the stands were crime comics.
Lev Gleason and Bob Wood were both characters in real life. Do a bit of research on them. Gleason was a Progressive fanatic, spending his fortune as quickly as he made it. Bob Wood wound up committing a crime as gruesome as any found within the pages of the comic. Life imitating art.
Dark Horse has scuttled this line of Archives, canceling the solicited Volume 11 and never soliciting the announced Volume 12. They weren't big sellers, which is a shame. Gwandanaland Comics, a company which uses scans of public domain comics found on the Internet and publishes them via Amazon's CreateSpace platform, has finished the series across fourteen softcovers. I have seen one of them at a friend's house and am considering picking them up at some point.
This was a good if uneven read. The better material is still in the future of the title. It's just a damn shame that sales weren't enough to support this line of books to see it through to the end.
Junk Food For Thought rating: 3.5 out of 5.
The OCD zone- The Dark Horse Archives are narrower than the original comic books.
Linework and Color restoration: Solid “frame up” restoration done off of scans of the original comics.
Paper stock: Thick uncoated stock. It has a creamy off-white color, being close to Mint condition pulp paper in appearance while being of sufficient thickness that it feels like 'Archival' quality paper.
Binding: Sewn binding which is stiff and does not lay flat. This book is light and small enough where it is not an issue.
Dustjacket and Hardback cover notes: Nice faux leather casewrap with die foil stamping. Dustjacket has a decent lamination.