Precode Horror
Harvey, 9/1952

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Comic Description: Black Cat Mystery Comics 39 Universal
Grade: 8.0
Certification #: 0915526001
Owner: GAM


Custom Sets: Designed for Delinquency
Precode Horror
Sets Competing: Strangest Tales of Fear and Superstition  Score: 202
Seduction Productions  Score: 202
Research: See CGC's Census Report for this Comic

Owner's Description

Black Cat Mystery #39 is referenced in Fredric Wertham’s “Seduction of the Innocent” (SOTI) on pages 386-388. The reference is contained in chapter XIV of the SOTI and this chapter, entitled “The Triumph of Dr. Payn”, takes its name from a character in a story from Black Cat Mystery #39. Wertham begins the chapter with a detailed description of the story “The Body Maker” from Black Cat Mystery #39. The story details the exploits of Dr. Payn, a Frankenstein monster inspired individual, as he goes about murdering and collecting the body parts of beautiful women. After describing the story, Wertham goes on to point out that this gruesome tale is clearly addressed to children by quoting from the letters page of the comic “I enjoy your books very much and read them in bed at night before I go to sleep. I am eleven years old.” Of the many examples that Wertham uses throughout the SOTI, I found “The Body Maker” to be perhaps his best example of a story that is not suited for young children. The story is well crafted but quite graphic in its lust-murder imagery. Although, as he is apt to do, Wertham is error prone is his description of the story. For example, he describes the opening scene as follows “When you first meet Dr. Payn, he is in his laboratory wearing a white coat. On a couch before him lies a blond young woman with conspicuous breasts, bare legs and the lower part of her skirt frazzled and in tatters, as if she had been roughly handled in strenuous but unsuccessful attempts to defend her honor.” I have included a scan of the opening page of the story. I think Wertham missed the point that the woman looks roughly handled not from defending her honor but because she’s been sewn together in a Frankenstein monster like way. In addition to “The Body Maker” another story, “The Witch Killer”, from Black Cat Mystery #39 is referenced on pages 387-388. Wertham quotes a passage from the story to provide an additional example of the age inappropriate material contained in comic books “A young solider ‘keeping watch in his foxhole in Korea’ is exterminated by a ghost: ‘The fangs and talons of the evil witch sank deeper into his jugular vein and then came out, withdrawing rich red blood. The young man sank forward, face up, dead!”

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