World premiere of a cult classic

Noir comic book stories brought to life on stage

Photo by Tim Nguyen/Citrus Photography of Crime Does Not Pay

In the world premiere of one of the most critically acclaimed comic book stories from the age of noir American fiction, comes the tale of Crime Does Not Pay.

Authors Kris Demeanor and David Rhymer have taken the task of turning a gruesome and realistic composition of the mid 20th century comic book, and converting it into a choreographed musical play.

“The thing about Crime Does Not Pay, which made it so provocative for the authorities, is that it actually took it from the criminal’s perspective, and in a sense, glorified the anti-hero,” said Rhymer.

Rhymer plays a hard-nosed, but very sensitive publisher, who is the main character of the play. 

Demeanor would continue the dialogue detailing the correlation of the original comic book’s theme and the events that take place in their anticipated play.

“It’s based on a true story of this fellow who actually worked on the Crime Does Not Pay comic book. The story itself is rooted in historical fact and the truth of the crime is not fake comic,” said Demeanor, who is also taking an active role as the anti-conscious character of Mr. Crime.

The antagonist is none other than the unusual artist of the popular 1940’s comic, Bob Wood.

He played a crucial role in the success of the comic, as he and fellow co-author Charles Biro, capitalized on the dwindling superhero themes of post-war pulp and created the age of the crime genre, which became the ethos of the decade. 

The eccentric artist, was innovative in creating action-packed scenes, while depicting a constant splash of red ink throughout the pages, leaving the reader eager for the next page and anticipating the next issue. 

The comic was instantly a hit and flew off the shelves of local drug stores. Costing 10 cents an issue, it began to influence American society in a perilous way.

The comic would eventually be subjected to censorship as many were re-enacting the crimes committed within the comic, and subsequently it would lose its popularity and fold in 1955. 

Demeanour, when describing the themes of the play, insists that many are still current in every day life and should be looked at in retrospect.

“The main theme of the piece would be around artistic censorship. At what point do you ban violent images because you’re worried it would affect the population? There’s also a strong theme of relationship dynamics and domestic violence,” said Demeanor. 

The play has been in the works for five years, and has been acclaimed internationally as incisive, heart-wrenching and darkly funny. 

Demeanor proclaimed it as prophetic given the period in time.

He finished off by saying the play was inspired by the music, it’s diverse pallets of instrumentation, rhyme, voice and how the songs tell the story.

The premiere is to be staged at the Engineered Air Theatre from March 2-5, and on March 7-11.

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