Cover image of book


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Sample video

  • "This book is a glorious celebration of relics from the days when people weren't afraid to maim each other in the name of humor."
    --Cory Doctorow, Co-editor of BoingBoing
  • "You couldn't make this stuff up. I wish I had!"
    --Michael Kupperman, creator, Snake'N'Bacon and Tales Designed to Thrizzle
  • "Julia Suits opens a window into a disturbing yet wonderful time of secret societies, initiation rituals, and generally strange behavior. Little did I realize what incredible comic potential there was in missiles and explosives."
    --William Gurstelle, author of Backyard Ballistics and The Practical Pyromaniac
  • "To quote L. P. Hartley, "The past is a foreign country: they do things differently there." Never has the truth of this been so evident as in this fantastical book."
    --Michael Kupperman, comic artist, New Yorker and Saturday Night Live

See a Sample of the Book

link to pdf sample

Today, secret societies seem like the stuff of fiction, but in the early twentieth century 40 percent of American men belonged to fraternal lodges.  Complete with secret handshakes, signs and passwords, these lodges were central to the economic and social well-being of their communities.  Their success depended on membership, however, and part of keeping up demand was maintaining exclusivity...and making it fun.  Not just anyone was invited to join and, once invited, initiates had to survive hazing, which also provided entertainment for current lodge members.

Pranks may be something most of us leave behind in childhood, but in these early twentieth century lodges, new members were hazed with elaborate devices most of us could hardly dream up.  In fact, most of the lodge members couldn’t come up with them either.  Instead they relied on the DeMoulin Brothers & Co. catalogs of peculiar inventions.  From water-squirting telephones and cigar-smoking camels to fake guillotines and carpets that gave off electric shocks, the DeMoulin Brothers had thought of everything.

About Julia Suits