2013 Harvey Award Nominee: Best Domestic Reprint Project
SF Site: Nexus Graphica Top Ten selection
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 bakers 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 EC Artists' Library, 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 often lurid, sometimes downright over-the-top, but always compelling and superbly crafted, classic comic-book masterpieces.
23-page excerpt (download 2.4 MB PDF):
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Praise for Wally Wood:
"Wood's work seemed like snapshots of a lush and vibrant reality where even madmen, monsters and mayhem possessed a stately grace. There might be pandemonium but, oddly, the panic never seemed to reach the eyes of Wood's regal heroes." — Geoff Boucher, The Los Angeles Times"Legendary artist [Wally] Wood mastered every comic-book genre — humor (he was one of Mad's first artists), horror, superheroes, war — but is best known for the 1950s science-fiction stories he drew for EC Comics, in which, one commentator noted, he 'began drawing things into panels that no human being seemed capable of before.' His heroic spacemen, intricate rocket ships, and frightening aliens embodied classic space opera, and his influence remains visible in the work of many leading comics artists today." — Gordon Flagg, Booklist