Crime Illustrated was a short-lived magazine from 1955-56 which lived in a weird area somewhere between the pulps and comic books. It promised “Adult Suspense Stories” and boldly claimed to have invented “PICTO-FICTION: A New Form of Adult Entertainment.”
It was printed on pulp paper, looked to be about pulp size, and each issue featured four or five crime fiction short stories, some original, some reprints, illustrated with black and white drawings. Its layout and design, which alternated panels of type with panels of illustrations arranged like a comic book but avoiding hand-lettering, balloons, borders and the like, recalled early issues of Mad Magazine. Which isn’t surprising, given that its publisher was EC Comics, the same folks who brought us all those nasty horror and crime stories… and Mad, of course, which they had introduced just a few years earlier.
In fact, many of MAD‘s usual gang of idiots seem to have contributed, including Al Feldstein, who served as editor for both magazines. Supplying stories were folks like Feldstein himself, Jack Oleck, and some guy called Alfred E. Neuman (actually a pen name for Feldstein), and the illustrations were by Jack Davis, Johnny Craig, Joe Orlando and Reed Crandall.
Most of the stories were the typical crime stories of the era–gruesome little morality plays, featuring one spouse carefully plotting the murder of the other, or rivals of one sort or another plotting comeuppance or revenge, usually culminating in a savage twist at the end. But there was at least one reprint of a classic private eye story, “Fall Guy for Murder” by Al Feldstein and originally illustrated by Johnny Craig. It was the kick-off story in the very first issue, reformatted in Crime Illustrated-style as a text story, in a very different layout with illustrations by Reed Crandall. Or at least that was the official story. It turns out that Crandall wasn’t the only artist on that rebooted version of the story. It seems Bernard Krigstein drew most of it, but wasn’t credited. And you can read all about it in “The Comic That Caused Bernard Krigstein to Quit EC Comics!” (August 2019, CBR.com)
It was one of four “Picto-Fiction” titles EC was experimenting with (the others were Confessions Illustrated, Shock Illustrated and Terror Illustrated), but they all lost money, and they were all cancelled. Crime Illustrated, alas, only lasted two issues, and was never seen again…
Except that in 2006, both issues and a long-lost, never published third issue were eventually reprinted in a pricey hardbound boxed set by Gemstone Publishing, as part of their Complete EC Library.
- CRIME ILLUSTRATED
(1955-56, EC Comics)
Editor: Al Feldstein
- THE COMPLETE EC LIBRARY: PICTO-FICTION | Buy this book
Includes the complete run of Crime Illustrated, as well as the complete runs of the other Picto-Fiction titles, plus 18 previously unpublished Picto-Fiction stories