The 20th century had hit its exact midpoint. Social upheaval — sexual, social, racial, cultural — was in the air; and the fledgling EC comics line was about to become a vital part of it.
Working within the horror, war, crime, and science fiction genres, publisher William Gaines and editor/writer Al Feldstein combined a deliciously disreputable, envelope-pushing sensibility with moments of genuine, outraged social consciousness, which shone a hard light onto such hot-button topics as racism, anti-Semitism, mob justice, and misogyny and sexism.
The 1950s were also a launching pad for some of the greatest comic book artists in history, many of whom worked for EC — including Wallace Wood, whose hypnotically detailed, lushly expressive brushwork brought to life menacing thugs, ominous cityscapes, and small-town America, as well as Everymen grappling with profound moral issues — not to mention some of the most heart-stoppingly beautiful women ever to sashay across a comic book page.
Came the Dawn collects all 26 Wood-drawn horror and crime stories — including the full baker’s dozen of EC’s most courageous and politically charged dramas.
Taking its title from one of Wood’s all-time classics, the evil little paranoid thriller “Came the Dawn,” this collection features page after page after page of Wood’s sleek and meticulously crafted artwork put in the service of cunning twist-ending stories, most often from the typewriter of EC editor Al Feldstein. These tales range from supernatural shockers from the pages of Tales From the Crypt and The Haunt of Fear (“The Living Corpse,” “Terror Ride,” “Man From the Grave,” “Horror in the Freak Tent”) to often pointedly contemporary crime thrillers from Crime SuspenStories (“The Assault,” “The Whipping,” and “Confession,” which was singled out for specific excoriation in the anti-comics screed Seduction of the Innocent, thus giving it a special cachet), but the breathtaking art and whiplash-inducing shock endings are constants throughout.
Like every book in the Fantagraphics EC line, Came the Dawn features extensive essays and notes on these classic stories by EC experts — but the real “meat” of the matter (sometimes literally, in the grislier stories) is supplied by these ofted lurid, sometimes downright over-the-top, but always compelling and superbly crafted, classic comic-book masterpieces.
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