Gangs of New York

The top illustration is something i found on ebay in an unfortunately expensive issue of True Gang Life, 1937.

I’m not sure when I first heard about the book The Gangs of New York by Herbert Asbury. It might have been from Mike Royer, who gave me very good advice about keeping a reference file and and knowing about some of the real-life topics like history and current events that influence comics.

I’m remembering specifically he liked the Time-Life books about cowboys and cavemen for their great art, and i’m thinking for some reason he may have showed me the Gangs book or possibly one of the Chicago Exposed books by Lait and Mortimer.

I had read a lot of pre-code crime comics and realized that some were better than others. Some were the worst kind of garbage, but some had a weird specificity of time and place and detail that indicated a more literate source.

a couple of times i found stories about the same criminal and it was interesting to see the differences in the stories, and I kept noticing that some stories just had more structure and detail than they should have without a non-comics source.

My friend John Hammond was a native New Yorker and knew the city well; he gave walking tours professionally. One day he took me through the oldest alleyways of Chinatown that you could still get to and showed me where the girl was killed and left in the well, and lower broadway where the civil-war era theater eventually fell, and along Canal, when you could still drink beer and smoke pot, he showed me where the canal had been and Five Points.  And he told me the early history of the city and about the draft riots.

I’m not much of a movie goer, but i like Martin Scorsese, so i saw The Gangs of New York.

I got the book and realized it was probably the source for a lot of the crime comics i’d read. So i pulled out a stack of Fox books and found a couple. I’m going to continue to attach stories here as i find them.


Since i’m scanning Fox comics i’m attaching this nice Jules Feiffer page from an unknown Fox crime comic i also lifted off ebay.