This short serial, a bloody tale of vengeance and guilt, was written by Malcolm Wheeler-Nicholson, the owner of DC Comics. The art is very expressive, to the point of over-wrought, but that really just adds to the story. One thing you can’t help noticing, though, is that in a book where all the strips are one or two pages long, Blood Pearls gets four pages an issue. Being the boss helps.
The story deals with Baslyn, a ruthless American who has come to the Philippines to acquire a string of red pearls with seven rubies on the clasp, known as the Blood Pearls. They are owned by Old Dato, who will only exchange them for a chinese mestiza girl. Baslyn finds one at the Carnival in Manila, drugs her, and brings her to Dato. Dato has no sooner handed over the pearls than he is killed by his young nephew, who takes the girl and runs away.
Baslyn attempts to sell the pearls in Manila, but no buyer will even touch them. Tsao-Chung, the girl’s father, comes to Baslyn’s yacht looking for her, and Baslyn throws him overboard into shark-infested water.
For the rest of the series Baslyn is in flight, believing himself pursued by Tsoa-Chung. He catches a liner back to the US, makes it to Chicago, then Detroit and finally New York, always seeing a chinese man wherever he goes. Entering a pearl dealer’s shop, he is confronted and murdered by his pursuer, the brother of Tsao-Chung.
It’s actually a little disappointing that this quasi-supernatural pursuer has such a rational explanation, though the story does end with them discussing the curse of the pearls, and that the brother was merely the tool, the pearls were the killer. And the line about “smuggled coolies” being left to drown ends it on a creepy note.
Blood Pearls ran from New Comics 8 (Sep 36) – New Adventure Comics 13 (Feb 37)