Barney Bailey

Created by Arthur Peddy (art)

One and done.

Like so many cookie cutter comic book private eye characters in the fifties, BARNEY BAILEY was pretty much instant toast–barely even there, and then he was gone.

He appeared in exactly one (count ’em, one!) story in Crime Clinic, a crime comic that set itself apart from the horde of blood-splattered rivals. This was a crime comic with a difference. It didn’t star some Spillane-like avenger, or some gang-busting FBI agent, Nope. The recurring hero was Dr. Tom Rogers, an idealistic prison psychiatrist out to save the world. He truly believed in reform and redemption, even with the hardest cases, and the comic–I kid you not–focused on “returning convicts to society by treating their mental and sometimes physical ailments.”

Mind you, this was the stick-up-their-ass fifties, when any notion of “social justice” was immediately dubbed suspicious and definitely un-American, so it’s probably no surprise that any comic that dared to even suggest compassion, mercy or understanding might be a tad out of step with the times. And it was. It lasted  five issues.

Crime Clinic also ran a couple of stories featuring a character known as “The Padre”–a Catholic priest whose parish was a rough-and-tumble slum, and whose mission was to keep the local at-risk boys and older men out of trouble. Gumshoe Barney Bailey appeared once, in “Nobody Cheats a Hangman.”

Barney’s your regular neatly scrubbed dick–he tools around some unnamed American city in a snazzy yellow convertible, he rocks a purple suit, and he’s on buddy-buddy terms with Detective-Sergeant Jim Duffy who for some reason sports a bowler. In Barney’s one big story, the “white-haired sleuth” is hired by Mr. and Mrs. Grayson to investigate the murder of which their beloved son, “clean-cut lad” (and state rifle champion) Don, has already been found guilty. Bailey is initially reluctant, but after one panel (in which Mrs. Grayson pulls out a hankie and sobs a little), he decides to take the case, which involves a couple of carny sharpshooters, a brother and sister who are no longer close, a dissolved partnership, and Barney going undercover at the fairgrounds as a “big spender” from Texas (he wears a Stetson). In the end, Barney prevents a “grave miscarriage of justice,” and everyone–except for the killer–goes home happy. Not exactly an EC crime classic.

It’s just a simple little tale, jumping logically from A to B to C, which no surprises. Typical filler for the time, but it got the job done. Not well enough, though, to earn a repeat performance.

Although the covers–all by pulp illustrator legend Norman Saunders–were worth the price of admission alone.


    (1951-52, Approved Comics)
    Writers: Carl Wessler and others (unknown)
    Artists: Leonard Starr, John Prentice, Al McWilliams, Irv Novick, Nick Cardy, Mike Suchorsky, Arthur Peddy, Gerald McCann, Frank Kramer
    Covers by Norman Saunders

    • “Nobody Cheats a Hangman” (Spring 1952, #4)  Buy the comic
      Art by Arthur Peddy
Respectfully submitted by Kevin Burton Smith.

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