Crime SuspenStories #22 Homage Covers
Crime SuspenStories #22 (April/May 1954)
“In Each & Every Package” (8 Page Story)
Writers: Bill Gaines, Al Feldstein
Cover Artist: Johnny Craig
Penciler: Reed Crandall
Inker: Reed Crandall
Note: Inspired by John Collier’s story “Back for Christmas” (1939)
Once called the “most notorious cover illustration” of all time, Johnny Craig’s artwork for E.C. Comics Crime Suspenstories #22 was the centerpiece of the Senate Judiciary Subcommittee to Investigate Juvenile Delinquency, established in 1953 and which conducted public hearings on April 21, April 22, and June 4 in 1954. In 1955, the Subcommittee published an interim report which summarized the purpose of the committee:
“It is firmly believed that the public is entitled to be fully informed on all aspects of [juvenile delinquency] and to know all the facts. It was the consensus that the need existed for a thorough, objective investigation to determine whether, as has been alleged, certain types of mass communication media are to be reckoned with as contributing to the country’s alarming rise in juvenile delinquency. These include ‘crime and horror’ comic books and other types of printed matter, the radio, television, and motion pictures.”
The Committee focused on graphic crime and horror comic books of the period and their potential impact on America’s youth, the primary argument posed by Dr. Frederic Wertham, a psychiatrist, in various magazine and news articles which culminated in the publication of his now-infamous Seducation of the Innocent in April 1954.
A publisher of crime and horror comics, Entertaining Comics (or simply E.C.) fell under close scrutiny during the Subcommittee’s public hearings. The cover of Crime Suspenstories #22 became the focal point of Senator Estes Kefauver’s questioning and William Gaines’ testimony as publisher of E.C.
When asked if he thought the cover was in good taste, Gaines replied:
“Yes, sir, I do…for the cover of a horror comic. A cover in bad taste, for example, might be defined as holding the head a little higher so that blood could be seen dripping from it, and moving the body over a little further so that the neck of the body could be seen to be bloody.”
Testimony during these hearings before the Senate Committee to Investigate Juvenile Delinquency soon led to the establishment of the Comics Code Authority (CCA) as an alternative to government regulation. Essentially, comic publishers in the United States were allowed to voluntarily self-regulate the contents of their comic books. Some publishers, it is interesting to note, such as Dell, Western, and Classics Illustrated, never used it. The CCA, at the height of its influence, acted as the censor for the entire U.S. comic book industry. By the early 2000s, many publishers bypassed the voluntary CCA. Marvel Comics, the publisher of comics featuring popular superheroes such as Spiderman, the Fantastic Four, Captain America and many others, abandoned the code entirely in 2001. The only holdouts — Bongo Comics, DC Comics and Archie Comics — followed suit in 2010 and 2011.
The scrutiny of Johnny Craig’s cover art for Crime Suspenstories #22 and William Gaines’ response to Senator Estes Kefauver’s questioning have made the comic one of the most recognized books in the world and perhaps the most famous decapitation cover of all time.
We hope you enjoy the gallery of homage and parody covers for Crime Suspenstories #22 below!
A wide variety of other decapitation covers are posted on our “Take the Head of Thine Enemy!” Comic Book Cover Gallery.