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.