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The Great Comic Book Detectives: A Nearly 70-Year Old Mystery SOLVED!

Here’s the bit. You, the readers, send in descriptions of comics that you remember vague details from the past and either I, or one of the readers of the piece will use detective work to figure out what comic you’re talking about!

A while back, a reader gave us a mystery that was nearly 70 years old. Thanks to some helpful readers, we solved his mystery! Read on for the details of the mystery and find out which comic book he was looking for.

Here was the request from a fellow named Malcolm:

Having been evacuated from London during the bombing raids of the last war, my uncle (who lived in Washington) used to send me a small selection of American Comics. I was away for about five years until my eleventh birthday in 1945. I very much enjoyed these comics, although some of them were pretty horrific to my young eyes. Later I developed a long career in Social Work where the most often asked question was ‘Why?’. Although I had worked out many answers to that question it occurred to me one day that part of my motivation lay in a comic that I had read in those early years.

The comic in question was an adventure comic of that time, full of brave wartime heroes but in the middle pages was a story with a ‘moral message’. That was probably in black and white although I think the rest was in colour. The one that came so dramatically into my memory went as follows:

The first scenes showed a regular American lad at his high school sports, winning the race and being hailed as a hero. The second sequence went to the other side of the tracks where a lad was caught stealing. As he was challenged by a cop he ran off and was shot dead. The message was that in those seconds he had run faster than the posh boy. The message was clear!

This issue would probably have been published between about 1942 to 1945.

I have searched every comic shop in the United Kingdom. Now that my family live in Brooklyn I am in America frequently and have spent many days in the archives of the New York Public Library searching for the publication but unfortunately to no avail.

Reader Scott Harris took the problem to the Collectors Society Message Boards and they solved it!

The story in question was from 1948’s Daredevil Comics #50, written by Charles Biro and drawn by Norman Maurer…

dd50-1

In it, Daredevil tells the Little Wise Guys the story of two different roads the same young man could go down. One ending in his death…

dd50-2

The other ending in him setting a world record…

dd50-3

All based on his strength of character.

I passed their information along to Malcolm and he replied:

Dear Brian

Many many thanks for finding these pages, sight of familiar pictures after so many years.

Except for the front page it is not quite the layout that I recall but after seventy years I have probably focussed on a false memory rather than a real one. I had remembered them before 1945 and had not thought that I was still receiving comics when I was fourteen, but I guess we were all slower to grow up back then! So unless Charles Biro used the same story in a previous comic this is certainly it. At lease I can now think that my great uncle was sending me more ‘suitable’ reading material. The moral message is pretty clear I think.

So the end of a near twenty year search, I can now write it into my autobiography more truthfully and accurately.

Once again many many thanks for the discovery. What a wonderful resource you run. Keep up the good work.

Very best wishes

Malcolm

Obviously, the real thanks should go to Scott and the good folks at CGC. Thanks, fellas!

11 Comments

Biro just wrote it. Norman Maurer was the artist. And yeah, it definitely is some nice work.

The copper is going to put him in the back seat un-cuffed. Then he fires three warning shots at window level on a city street. Then he shoots a kid twice in the back for boosting a wallet.

I’m not sure I agree with you a hundred percent on your police work, there, Lou.

Mutt, I was going to make the same point.

Well done Brian, Scott et al. It’s always nice to see someone reunited with their past (it reminds me of this video, a similar touching story http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ie3SrjLlcUY&feature=youtu.be)

Ah, I read it too quickly, that makes more sense, Brian!

Biro was a hell of an artist too.

Note the letters in the third panel of the last page shown – did “WUS” stand for anything in 1948? LOL

Given the story a few weeks back about reused stories in the ’40s and Malcom’s recollection of reading this ~1945, I can’t help wondering if this story was stollen from an earlier book.

Michael,

No, this story wasn’t stolen. Biro was one of the greats of the era, a largely forgotten genius in the field. It’s no surprise that this comic was remembered so long after the fact, it’s a great piece of work.

Tom B

That took some clever detective work for a 1948 comic. Congratulations to all involved.

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