The Best Of The Worst
This entire issue can be downloaded here
I thought this one looked familiar.
You can find it here;
“In the late 1940s and early 1950s, Lait, with co-author Lee Mortimer, wrote a series of four controversial books detailing the seamy underside of America and three of its main cities. Each of the four books had the word “confidential” in its title.” The first one was “New York: Confidential” (1948).
I’ve been wondering for years: why does the boy have no clothes on?
There could be many reasons for this, but what strikes me is that in the 1950s, no one blinked an eye at nude kids in illustrations. These days your sci fi magazine publisher would have a fit!
Ed Emshwiller made a “nudie” too: a cover for Fantasy & Science Fiction for the December 1960 issue, “Christmas In Modernia”.
You see on the magazine cover a father in a futuristic coverall and boots decorating the Christmas tree. A domestic robot and his little daughter look on. The girl is nude, like she just had her bath. (her mother is not featured)
But the nudity is not arbitrary, it has a function, I read in a review. You can see in the painting that the father has robotized arms. It’s the trend, in their Moon or Mars colony (to expand their organic lives?). The little girl will be come a cyborg too, eventually, she’s still too young.
That was Emshwillers message. A clever find, but also a controversial one.
And it still is: Etsy has a Christmas in Modernia print up for sale, but it only shows the father and the robot, the figure of the child is removed…
Welcome to our Space Age…
In the Amazing Stories picture above, I’m only guessing that the old man, the woman and the child are pariahs and hiding from the government. Maybe the cover illustration isn’t even related to the main short-story “Mars Confidential”, I read only snippets of it and found no references to “renegades” in caves. So what did Baryé Phillips try to tell with HIS cover illustration? Is it the intention that the soldiers, or cops, see the boy and will come to the cave where the pariahs are hiding? Only the woman has a weapon; a knife. The soldiers have laser guns.
I don’t feel comfy with that message anyway– the pariahs use a naked boy as bait?? Fishy!
But it’s a fact that nude children in illustrations were not shunned at all in the ’50s. While “Doctor” Fredric Wertham screamed wolf over “immoral” American comics, (Batman and his toyboy Robin, lol), the Emshwiller AS cover didn’t cause a scandal.
I find this quite remarkable.
But I’m afraid the Amazing Stories cover will always remain a mystery…
“the Emshwiller AS cover didn’t cause a scandal”
update: I mean Baryé Phillips, of course…
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