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Corpse on the Imjin! and Other Stories
The creation of MAD would have been enough to cement Harvey Kurtzman’s
reputation as one of the titans of American comics, but Kurtzman also created
two other comics landmarks: the scrupulously-researched and superbly-crafted
war comics Two-Fisted Tales and Frontline Combat. Here were finally war comics
without heroic, cigar-chomping sergeants, wisecracking privates from Brooklyn, or cartoon Nazis and “Japs” to be mowed down by the Yank heroes, but
an unflinching look at the horror and madness of combat throughout history.
Kurtzman employed some of the finest of the EC artists including Jack Davis,
John Severin, and Wallace Wood, but his vision came through clearest in the
dozen or so stories he both wrote and drew himself, in his uniquely bold, slashing, cartoony-but-dead-serious style
(“Stonewall Jackson,” “Iwo Jima,” “Rubble,” “Big ‘If ’,” and Kurtzman’s own favorite, “Air Burst”) — as well as his vividly
colored, narratively-dense covers, all 23 of which are reproduced here in full color in a special portfolio.
Corpse on the Imjin! is rounded off with a dozen or so stories written and laid out by Kurtzman and drawn by
“short-timers,” i.e. cartoonists whose contributions to his war books only comprised a story or two — including such
giants as designer extraordinaire Alex Toth, Marvel comics stalwart Gene Colan, and a pre-Sgt. Rock Joe Kubert... and
such unexpected guests as “The Lighter Side of...” MAD artist Dave Berg and DC comics veteran Ric Estrada — as well
as a rarity: a story by EC regular John Severin inked by Kurtzman.
Like every book in the Fantagraphics EC line, Corpse on the Imjin! features extensive essays and notes on these
classic stories by EC experts — but Kurtzman’s stories, as vital, powerful, affecting, and even, yes, modern today as when
they were created 60 years ago, are what makes this collection a must-have for any comics reader.
Came the Dawn and Other Stories
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