Black Cat Mystery No. 49 Cover by Lee Elias

January 16, 2023|In General

When I look back at the few examples I’ve seen of what was considered extreme in comics by men like Dr. Fredric Wertham and Senator Estes Kefauver, I’m most often saddened by the energy and vitality I saw in that work versus what came later after the Comics Code Authority was established.

True, some of the material was a bit much for young readers, and American society didn’t see comics as something for adults as well as kids. There was no chance in splitting up the market with some books for young people and some for an adult readership.

Horror comics like Black Cat Mystery had emerged as the super-hero books began to fail, and Lee Elias was a superb artist for the times with great drawing skills and juicy blacks to carry the scariness. And it was horror comics that took the brunt of the blame when it came to muzzling comics to be safe for conservative parents.

While the Code is now history, our conception of horror comics has changed over time. We don’t get quite the lurid depictions anymore. I’ll leave it up to you whether you think we’ve matured or if we’ve lost our taste for blood.

New colour by me.

Black Cat Mystery 49 published by Harvey Comics

As published.

Black Cat Mystery 49 cover art by Lee Alias

Original art scan from Heritage Auctions.

Comic book production art by Scott Dutton

Art made production ready.

Comic book colouring by Scott Dutton

New colour version.

Comic book design and packaging by Scott Dutton

Re-created trade dress added.