The Black Gang and their hoods

I mentioned Sapper’s The Black Gang recently, and suggested that its hooded vigilantes might have reminded early readers not only of Mussolini’s black-shirted Fascists, but of the Ku Klux Klan whose vigilante heroes had recently become fashionable, thanks to D.W.Griffith’s The Birth of a Nation. Jessica questioned the word “hoods”, noting that the text usually referred to “masks”.

Today I took a look at the Sovereign Magazine for 1922, where The Black Gang first appeared, and found pictures like the one above, and this one:

So unless the illustrator was on a totally different wavelength from Sapper, hoods were definitely part of the uniform.

Leafing through the 1922 copies of the Sovereign magazine, I was interested to find, among the stories in an issue containing a Black Gang instalment, Monkey Nuts by D.H.Lawrence.

Sapper and D.H. Lawrence – not a pair of authors that one usually sees as appealing to the same audience. The pairing is a nice bit of evidence for a favourite thesis of mine – that the literary world in the twenties was far less neatly stratified into highbrow, middlebrow and popular than is conventionally assumed today, that the story magazines encouraged a catholic taste, and that their readers crossed over as easily between various types of writing as we do between different genres of T.V. programme today.

One Comment

  1. Jessica
    Posted July 2, 2008 at 6:19 am | Permalink

    Oh, wow! Thanks for this. It is completely different from the image I formed in my mind from reading the text. I wonder how they moved silently in such a get-up? Very interesting indeed.


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