The Unfunnies: Time Was, A Prison Was a Place For Laughter.

I've mentioned the legal-system themed cartoons that ran in the various Batman comics before, with their light-hearted looks at crime and punishment and strange interconnectedness. Here's Warden Willis, head of the prison featured in Jail Jests. Presumably Lefty Looie is somewhere in the background.

Aside from the general thematic strangeness of these comics, I recently realized that they are all from the late 50s/early 60s, which is also the time period that the Shawshank Redemption, Cool Hand Luke... basically most of the classic prison movies are set in, and it's messing with my perceptions. I keep picturing 2143 putting fishhooks in his enemies' food or 2130 getting throttled with his own tether because he back-talked a guard.

The Morgan Freeman narration does add a certain class, though.

- From Detective Comics no 261

Unfunnies: Jail Jests

As I've mentioned before, a lot of these comics were themed according to the book that they were appearing in - Aquaman comics, for instance, were well-stocked with one-pagers about skin-divers. Batman comics took things a bit further by featuring a whole family of comics themed around crime and punishment: "Casey the Cop" chased "Lefty Looie" the thief and threw him into a prison (setting of "Jail Jests") administered by "Warden Willis". And they all crossed over: Casey sometimes worked at the jail; Warden Willis and Lefty Looie showed up in "Jail Jests", etc. For throwaway gag comics, there was a surprising amount of backstory.

Here's Lefty Looie:

Yup, that's a painted-on outfit, years ahead of its time. Might need a bit more thought, though.

Mostly, though, I keep on thinking about how sad Looie must have been once he realized just how hot a layer of paint can get. Poor doofus.

- from Batman no. 137