Tag Archives: ec comics

EC’s Weird Fantasy and More is Being Brought to Life by Hivemind

Hivemind has announced a new partnership with William M. Gaines Agent, Inc., the proprietors of EC Comics, for a number of film and television projects based on the hugely influential – and often controversial – comic book publisher’s groundbreaking legacy and library. One of the first endeavors of the partnership will be Weird Fantasy – a new television show inspired by the shocking and subversive sci-fi/fantasy series that collided visionary genre storytelling with socially conscious themes of racial and gender equality, anti-war advocacy, nuclear disarmament and ecological preservation to create some of the most impactful and hotly debated comic book stories ever produced. This is the first time that WMG Agent Inc. has made Weird Fantasy available for adaptation in more than two decades.

Changing the industry seemingly overnight in the early 1950s under the stewardship of publisher and writer William M. GainesEC Comics quickly became the dominant force of the era’s booming comic book industry, selling tens of millions of copies annually and generating intense, nationwide controversies with taboo-smashing, confrontational stories in series like Tales From the Crypt and MAD Magazine. EC’s unique formula eschewed superheroes in favor of science fiction, fantasy, war, horror, and humor – redefining comics storytelling with a newly sophisticated and artist-driven approach that would pave the way for the ascendancy of both Marvel Comics and the counterculture underground in the decades to come.

Weird Fantasy Judgement Day

A lynchpin of the EC line during the publisher’s creative watershed, Weird Fantasy produced dozens of seminal stories that intersected razor-sharp social commentary with epic science fiction, high adventure and dark fantasy by some of the most celebrated comics creators to ever work in the medium, including Frank FrazettaWally Wood, and Harvey KurtzmanWeird Fantasy‘s defiantly rebellious sensibility is perhaps best exemplified by “Judgment Day” – a history-making story by William M. GainesAl Feldstein, and Joe Orlando that championed the then-burgeoning Civil Rights movement and provoked a showdown with the Comics Code Authority, the pro-censorship organization that policed and sanitized the comic book industry for more than 50 years.

William M. Gaines

The new partnership is also slated to include a feature film based on the life of William M. Gaines, the former EC Comics publisher and self-styled comics provocateur who challenged the rigid moral code of 1950s America with shockingly innovative and deeply subversive tales of fantasy, horror and humor that sold in the millions…only to find his company investigated by Congress and his books burned in the streets in the wake of EC’s staggering success. Chronicling one of the greatest untold chapters in American history, the film will follow Gaines’ transformation from a staid, New York publishing impresario into a counterculture hero, guardian of artistic freedom, and champion of the First Amendment as his darkly humorous journey through the troubled birth of the comic book industry reveals the Red Scare-era witch hunt that nearly doomed an American art form, through the subsequent founding of MAD Magazine and eventual rise of Marvel Comics in EC’s wake.

Both projects will be produced by Gaines’ daughter and grandson, Cathy Mifsud and Corey Mifsud, for EC, alongside Dinesh ShamdasaniSean DanielJason F. Brown, and Hunter Gorinson for Hivemind. The projects will mark Gorinson’s first for Hivemind, where he also has joined as VP Brand & Content Strategy.

Around the Tubes

It’s Thanksgiving here at GP HQ but we’re not slowing down with lots of articles and a few exclusives! Enjoy the turkey and check back often today!

Kotaku – Miss Universe Japan Will Compete As Sailor Moon – This is kind of cool.

Antiques and Arts Online – EC Comic’s 1955 ‘Master Race’ Sells For $600000 At Heritage Auctions – That’s a good chunk of change.

Newsarama – Sony Sets Two Spider-Man Spin-Off Release Dates – Morbius and a Venom sequel?

The Comichron – Green Lantern, mutants lead final pre-Black Friday reorder report – As usual, not too surprising.

The Outhouse – Batman & Outsiders Pushed Back By DC Comics to 2019! – No!!!!!

The Rise And Fall Of Horror Comics

Source: wikipedia

Horror comics have had it rough.

For a few years they were at the forefront of the comic book industry, pushing the envelope with the stories they told, and influencing some of the most recognizable names in horror over the past five decades. From the late 40’s to the mid 50’s, horror comics essentially printed money for their publishers.

It would not, it could not, last.

There is some debate as to the first horror comic; Prize Comics #7 began an eight page feature adapting Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein,  causing some to label it as the first true horror series. There were other adaptations during the early to  mid 40’s, one of which was Gilberton Publications Classic Comics #13. Printing a full adaptation of Robert Louis Stevenson’s The Strange Case Of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde, Classic Comics #13 is the earliest known comic book dedicated purely to horror.

Comic book cover shows a bald, robed man moving toward a frightened woman on the floor in a strapless dress. Her hands and feet are bound. Price of the comic is listed as 10 cents.

Source: wikipedia

However the first horror comic with original content is widely recognized as Eerie Comics #1, by Avon Publications cover dated January of 1947 (but the comic was actually published at the tail end of 1946). This volume of Eerie Comics never had a second issue, but it was relaunched in 1951.

Horror comics enjoyed some popularity on the newsstands, but it wasn’t until 1950 when EC Comics came on the scene that the genre really exploded with EC’s “trifecta of terror”: The Haunt of Fear, The Vault of Horror, and Crypt of Terror – which later became Tales from the Crypt.

The stories in the above comics, and the others that would follow, are bloody, gory, gruesome, macabre, sinister, and, at times, silly. They were truly horrific comics, but for some they were absolutely wonderful, and their influence on game-changing artists and writers can’t be overstated. Stephen King and George Romero, both hugely influential men on their own, created the film Creepshow as a love letter to the comics that influenced them as children. Alan Moore, one of the most acclaimed comic book writers of the past few decades, has a character reading an EC Comics-like story at a newsstand throughout the main story of Watchmen. Years later, HBO would develop a very successful anthology television show that ran from 1989 to 1996 based on the content of many EC stories published in during the 50’s, turning the Cryptkeeper into a household name.

But the golden age of horror comics of the early to mid 50’s would not last.

With the fallout from Fredric Wertham‘s book Seduction of the Innocent, and the Comics Code Authority (CCA) that resulted, horror comics, hit hard than any other genre, were virtually wiped out over night. Jobs were lost, publishers nearly went out of business, and the face of comics changed forever. Horror comics were everywhere, until suddenly they weren’t.

To say horror comics vanished over night isn’t strictly accurate. The essence of the comics stayed alive despite the CCA’s best efforts. James Warren of Warren Publishing would produce black and white horror comics, but published as a magazine, they were exempt from the CCA’s rules. By publishing these stories in a magazine format, Warren paved the way for other publishers to produce horror comics magazines.

Horror comics, like any good villain, wouldn’t stay down forever.

Although the Comics Code Authority spelled the end of horror comics for many years, we are currently experiencing a resurgence in horror comics – in a large part, perhaps, because the CCA has been entirely abandoned by publishers. The  old EC Comics, those classically macabre stories that are finally making their way into reprinted volumes that for fans of the genre are an unparalleled look into the past. Modern comic books like The Walking Dead, American Vampire, and 30 Days of Night are only a handful of the titles that are carrying the torch of influence that can traced back to the golden age of horror of the early 50’s.

While perhaps not as popular as they were 60 years ago, when they accounted for almost a quarter of all comics published, horror comics have been making a steady return to prominence in the comic book world.

That’s not a bad thing.

SDCC 2013: Dark Horse To Publish EC Library: Tales From the Crypt Coming This Halloween!

As announced during the Diamond Retailer Lunch at San Diego Comic-Con 2013, the publishing maverick Dark Horse Comics announced one of its biggest undertakings yet!

Without question, Bill Gaines’s Entertaining Comics produced some of the greatest works in the history of the medium, from the likes of such industry legends as Jack Davis, Wally Wood, and many, many more. EC Comics produced many of the 1950s’ most controversial and talked-about works, including such legendary anthologies as Two-Fisted Tales, Weird Fantasy, and of course, Tales from the Crypt.

Now, Dark Horse will work with comics luminary Russ Cochran, under the careful guidance of Cathy Gaines, to continue this legacy with the release of Tales from the Crypt Volume 4 in October, with Vault of Horror Volume 3 following in January!

Each volume will be digitally recolored, using Marie Severin’s original colors as a guide. Tales from the Crypt Volume 4 collects issues #35–#40, featuring stories drawn by all-star comic artists Jack Davis, Joe Orlando, Jack Kamen, Graham Ingels, George Evans, Reed Crandall, Bill Elder, and Bernie Krigstein!

Tales from the Crypt Volume 4 arrives on sale at finer comic shops everywhere for $49.99 on October 30, 2013, just in time for Halloween!

TFTCV4 CVR

Fantagraphics Books To Publish The EC Comics Library

Official Press Release

FANTAGRAPHICS BOOKS TO PUBLISH THE EC COMICS LIBRARY

Fantagraphics Books President and Co-Publisher Gary Groth announced today at Comic-Con International that it has entered into a publishing agreement with William M. Gaines Agent, Inc. to publish the EC Comics Library, be- ginning in Summer 2012. The announcement teams two of the most storied comics publishers in history and aims to reintroduce the timeless work of EC to contemporary readers.

Fantagraphics will re-package the EC Comics (with the exception of MAD, which is now owned by DC Comics/Time Warner) in a series of handsome hardcovers devoted to specific artists and writers. While virtually all previous EC collections have been published by comic book title, Fantagraphics will collect the comics by artist, allowing fans to finally own single-volume tomes collecting the work of their favorite creators.

“It pleases me greatly to be in partnership with such an influential company as Fantagraphics,” said Cathy Gaines Mifsud, President of William M. Gaines Agent, Inc. “It’s a pleasure to be working with a company that shares similar values, yet retains unique and distinct creativity. I trust them fully to carry on the iconic EC brand.”

Entertaining Comics may have been the greatest mainstream publisher in comics history, with an attention to quality and consistency that has never been rivaled. Under the stewardship of William Gaines (who took over the company from his father, Max Gaines, in 1947), EC’s “New Trend” line employed a Murderer’s Row of writers and artists including Harvey Kurtzman, Wally Wood, Jack Davis, Johnny Craig, Al Feldstein, Reed Crandall, Will Elder, Frank Frazetta, Graham Ingels, Jack Kamen, Bernard Krigstein, John Severin, Al Williamson, Joe Orlando, and many others.

“EC was the most consistently literate and quality-minded publisher in the history of mainstream comics,” said Groth. “Editors Al Feldstein and Harvey Kurtzman were aware that comics was an artistic medium in a way that few editors did, and publisher Bill Gaines was unique in taking a hands-on approach to his comics line, choosing his editors wisely, giving them such editorial freedom and latitude, and taking such personal pride —and responsibility— in his comics. This was simply unheard of in mainstream comics; if more publishers had had Gaines’ integrity, the history of comics would’ve been vastly different.”

Like most of its contemporaries, EC specialized in genre fiction, specifically horror, crime, science-fiction, war, and satire, with several titles that seeped into the public consciousness long after their demise, including Tales from the Crypt, Two-Fisted Tales, Weird Science, and of course MAD. Unlike most of its contemporaries, Gaines and his staff took great pride in crafting socially aware works that transcended their genres. “At a time when comics were consid- ered sub-literate junk by the reading public, Gaines and the EC creators were impressing people like Ray Bradbury with the aesthetic possibilities of the medium. That was no mean feat,” Groth added.

The first four books in the series will be:

• “Corpse on the Imjinand Other Stories by Harvey Kurtzman. This will reprint all the war stories Kurtzman wrote and drew himself in Two-Fisted Tales and Frontline Combat, including all 23 of his covers — each a masterpiece in its own right. This volume will also include all the war stories that Kurtzman wrote and laid out but were drawn by artists who weren’t regularly featured in his war books: Gene Colan, Joe Kubert, Alex Toth, Dave Berg, Ric Estrada, Russ Heath, and others. (The regulars were Jack Davis, John Severin, Wally Wood, and George Evans, each of whom will later be the subject of their own war comics collections). Kurtzman’s war comics are still considered to be the gold standard for the genre, with a devotion not only to historical accuracy but also to resisting any impulse to glamorize wartime; a WWII veteran himself, Kurtzman’s humanistic approach was in stark contrast to the simp- leminded, jingoistic efforts of EC’s rival publishers, and paved the way for other popular media to depict the true face of war.

• “Came the Dawnand Other Stories by Wally Wood: Though often remembered for his science-fiction work, Wood’s heavy, noirish brushstrokes were perfectly suited for EC’s rough-hewn suspense stories in (the appropriately titled) Shock SuspenStories and this volume will collect them all for the first time.

• Jack Davis’s horror stories (exact title t.b.a.): Jack Davis’s gift for caricature has made him an icon in the advertis- ing world and helped define MAD magazine, but he was also one of the most versatile cartoonists of his generation; after “Ghastly” Graham Ingels, Davis was EC’s most prolific horror artist, appearing in all three of EC’s horror titles — Haunt of Fear, Vault of Horror, and Crypt of Terror. This will collect the entirety of Davis’s horror work, all of which was written by Al Feldstein.

• Al Williamson’s science-fiction stories (exact title t.b.a.): EC published two SF comics — Weird Fantasy and Weird Science — and Williamson was one of the stars, with an illustrative style that carried on the tradition of the great adventure comic strips like Alex Raymond’s Flash Gordon. This volume will compile all 174 pages of Williamson’s SF stories.

“EC featured many of the best artists working at the time — innovators like Kurtzman, Bernie Krigstein, and Johnny Craig, illustrators like Al Williamson and Jack Kamen, and renaissance cartoonists like Wally Wood, Will Elder, and Jack Davis,” said Groth. “Many of these artists did the best work of their careers for EC, and that is directly attributable to the creative environment Gaines created.”

Fantagraphics will be publishing four EC collections a year, beginning in Summer 2012.

“Came the Dawn” and Other Stories

By: Wally Wood, Al Feldstein, et al.

Release Date: July 2012

ISBN: 978-1-60699-546-4

Black & White • Hardcover • 7” x 10”

“Corpse on the Imjin” and Other Stories

By: Harvey Kurtzman et al.

Release Date: July 2012

ISBN: 978-1-60699-545-7

Black & White • Hardcover • 7” x 10”

*The EC Comics bullet logo is a trademark of William M. Gaines Agent, Inc.

**Images © 2011 William M. Gaines Agent, Inc.

Classic Horror Reviews: Crime Patrol #15 & #16


Bookmark and Share

Crime Patrol 15 The most famous of the EC horror comics created by Bill Gaines and Al Feldstein is Tales from the Crypt, which was eventually turned into a popular HBO show that lasted for seven seasons. But before they settled on the formula that would make them famous and lead to congressional hearings, Gaines and Feldstein premiered their horror host, the Crypt Keeper in the pages of Crime Patrol. He first appeared in issue #15 in a story called “Return From the Grave.”

This first tale is introduced by the “Keeper of the Crypt of Terror,” a spooky guy who bears little resemblence to the Crypt Keeper of the television series and the story is more a crime tale than a horror tale, but it does contain the seeds of the genre that would take over EC comics. “Return From the Grave” contains nothing supernatural, despite what the title might suggest, it’s mearly the tale of two unscrupulous businessmen outsmarted by their partner who they try to talk into suicide. In a Shakespearean twist, their own guilt does them in, with one guy so scared he falls out an open window to his death while the other shoots himself to prevent the “ghost” of his antagonist from getting him.

Crime Patrol 16 The next issue of Crime Patrol expands its more horror-style tales and continues the presence of the now-labeled Crypt Keeper. Most of the stories here are still crime-oriented, but the twists grow more like what the later EC comics would be known for and elements of the supernatural make their way into the issue. “The Corpse in the Crematorium,” although it has a very horror-oriented title, is really a straight-forward tale of a man who has catalepsy and falls into a fit for three days that makes him appear to be dead and his fiancee’s frantic search for him. It’s really derivative of Edgar Allan Poe’s “The Premature Burial.” Next is “Trapped in the Tomb,” another tales without any twists or supernatural elements, it’s merely the story of one jealous archaeologist trying to kill another over treasure. The third story is a tex-only short, “A Bottle of Murder,” that may be one of the first apocalyptic tales to appear in comics. It describes the journey of a bottle of a material so explosive that simply opening the bottle would level an entire city. The bottle is lost by government agents and winds its way through a path of people, many of whom try to open the bottle to no avail because it has a reverse thread. If anyone figures that out, the town goes nuclear.

The first element of the supernatural in the comic is in the next story, “The Graveyard Feet,” which is one of the long line of stories where a man receives a transplant of a body part and those body parts have a “memory” or connection to their former owner. In this case, the body part is feet and in a ridiculous turn, the feet remember savate from their former owner, turning their new owner into somewhat of a superhero who goes after a evil doctor who is experimenting on people in gruesome ways. The next text-only story, “Voodoo Vendetta,” is the first story in the series that one would think of as a classic Tales from Crypt-style story, in that it has an abusive man being pursued by a living voodoo doll. The final tale, fully narrated by the Crypt Keeper, tells the tale of a many who inherits a castle, which has been moved to the U.S. from Europe, and a large sum of money if he can live through two nights in the castley. As the title suggests, that won’t be easy because of “The Spectre in the Castle.” Rumor has it that the previous master of the castle always comes back to kill one of the new residents of the castle. The new owner and his wife quickly start seeing strange occurances and fear for their lives, but is it really a ghost, or something more, well, crime-oriented?

Art: The art from Al Feldstein and Johnny Craig is quite good and it does a great job of evoking fear (even when the story itself doesn’t), shows a sense of humor and captures an era in time very well. I’m guessing that’s one of the key reason the comics became so successful. Rating: 8

Plot: The two issues of Crime Patrol that deal with what would soon be EC’s signature style (issue 17 of the series would be renamed The Crypt of Terror) are not great reads, as most of the stories are a bit underdeveloped and cliched. It’s distinctly possible that I’m only thinking of them as cliched because I’ve since seen these type of stories a lot, but even if these are the originators of these particular tropes, they aren’t the best-executed versions of the stories, so they still are lacking. Rating: 6

Overall: 7

Recommendation: While these are good to read because they are the start of Tales from the Crypt and the Crypt Keeper, they are far from great stories and I would recommend that if you like the genre, you buy the reprints. The originals aren’t worth what they would cost, except for collectors.

EC Comics Goes Political

It what is shaping up to be one of the more overt political years in comic books, controversial publisher EC Comics has decided to get in on the action.  The publisher of such series as Tales From the Crypt has decided to depict Republican Vice Presidential candidate Sarah Palin on an issue cover for the series.  Issue #8 shows the candidate wielding a hockey stick asking “Didn’t we get rid of you guys in the 1950s?”

In an interior editorial Cathy Gaines Mifsud writes “Tales from the Crypt is not endorsing any political candidates…nor are we attacking any candidates, but Tales does care about freedom and censorship.”

EC Comics and it’s original publisher William Gaines (who also founded Mad Magazine) are not new to politics.  It was EC’s publishing of horror comics that lead to Senate hearings on the comic book industry and it’s “corrupting” influence on the youth.  You can find out more about that part in American history in the book, The Ten-Cent Plague.