In 1942, Silver Streak comics changed its name to Crime Does Not Pay Comics. It was the first comic series to focus on crime, and to be aimed at the adult market rather than children. The issues featured lurid colours and strong violence, and helped spark a backlash against comic books in the 1950s by those who feared that they were a negative influence.
Noël Coward (1899-1973) was an English playwright known for his trademark wit and flamboyance. He published more than 50 plays, composed hundreds of songs, wrote dozens of musicals, and published short stories, poetry, a novel and autobiographical works.
During the Second World War, Coward ran the British propaganda office in Paris. He also worked with the Secret Service and tried to rally American support for the war effort. He won an honorary Academy Award in 1943 and was knighted in 1969.
Roger's dislike of Coward's work appears to reflect Pynchon's own view; a similarly disparaging reference to the playwright is found in his story 'Lowlands'.
This equation is similar to the probability density function of a normal distribution (Little sigma, times P of s equals one over the square root of two pi, times e to the minus s squared over two little-sigma squared). Here however, the equation has been multiplied by little sigma, possibly as a deliberate error on Pynchon's part to emphasise things not being quite right.