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, beginning 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 Imjin” and 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 Dawn” and 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 / Color • Hardcover • 7” x 10”
Fantagraphics Books President and Co-Publisher Gary Groth announced today at Comic-Con International that the Seattle-based publisher has entered into an agreement to publish The Complete ZAP Comix in Fall of 2012.
ZAP remains the best-known and most influential underground comic of all-time, and in many ways is Ground Zero for the entire field of underground, alternative, literary and art comics that exists today. Created by Robert Crumb, it was one of the defining events in the counterculture of the 1960s and singlehandedly launched the “underground comix” era.
“ZAP took comics from children to adults, crushing The Comics Code Authority in the process,” proclaimed ZAP artist Victor Moscoso.
The Complete ZAP Comix will be published as a two-volume, slipcased hardcover set, printed slightly larger than the original comics, and shot from the original negatives to the comic books, ensuring the finest reproduction ever seen of the material. It will also include the rarely-seen ZAM, a one-shot mini-comic/jam spinoff of ZAP from 1974, as well as other supplementary features, interviews with the artists, and other surprises.
“ZAP may be the most significant series in the history of American comics,” said Fantagraphics President and Co-Publisher Gary Groth. “Its cultural preeminence is the result of artistic merit, not collectibility or economics and that sets it apart from most comics series that have achieved this level of public awareness or notoriety. The artists that Crumb invited into ZAP each proved to be a stylistic virtuoso with a unique point of view and an uncompromising vision. ZAP was the vanguard of a movement that segued into the alternative comics of the ’80s and the graphic novels of the ’00s. We couldn’t be prouder to collect this landmark series in its entirety in a beautifully packaged two-volume set.”
Originally printed by Beat writer Charles Plymell in an edition of around 3,500 copies, ZAP #1 was the first title published by the late Don Donahue under the Apex Novelties imprint, and was infamously sold on the streets of Haight-Ashbury out of a baby stroller pushed by Crumb’s ex-wife, Dana. Over time, the series’ 16 issues have sold millions of copies.
Although R. Crumb had initially created ZAP as a showcase for his own work, the success of the first issue led him to open up the pages of subsequent issues to several other artists. He invited his peers S. Clay Wilson, Robert Williams, “Spain” Rodriguez, Gilbert Shelton, Victor Moscoso and Rick Griffin to join him, effectively creating an artists’ collective that has remained mostly constant in the subsequent decades; when Rick Griffin died in 1991, the artist Paul Mavrides was invited to join the group.
“Fantagraphics’ The Complete ZAP Comix, as designed by Victor Moscoso, will be a classy item for the bookshelves of underground comics fans — those who can afford it, that is,” said ZAP artist Gilbert Shelton. “I imagine most of the original readers wish they still had their copy of the first edition of ZAP #1, which sells for over ten thousand dollars now, if in perfect condition. But part of the secret of the success of underground comix was that they were cheaply produced and turned yellow and fell apart quickly, and also that they were borrowed and never returned by one’s friends, thereby forcing you to buy another copy. This will not happen with the new collected edition, which will be produced under the most rigorous of quality control.”
“Much as the effect EC’s MAD had on the mid-20th Century, ZAP was equally influential and disruptive to cultural mores at the end of the 20th Century, but without the hindrance of the old comic book code that cramped graphic novel expression for 40 years,” said ZAP artist Robert Williams. “I’m very pleased that Fantagraphics will release this long-awaited compendium of ZAP Comix.”
“When Robert Crumb started ZAP in 1968, no one had any idea that it would still be alive 45 years later,” Shelton added. “This exercise in anarchy — there were never any rules, restrictions, or editorial policy — is still the flagship of the underground comics movement. I tried, and failed, to get my fellow ZAPsters to correct their spelling errors, but they would not be subjected to such editorial tyranny. I also wanted to let other artists into the group, but it was decided to restrict the number of contributors to seven. So be it. Spell free or die, I now say.”
Fantagraphics will be publishing the The Complete ZAP Comix in Fall of 2012.
The Complete ZAP Comix By: R. Crumb, S. Clay Wilson, Robert Williams, Spain Rodriguez, Gilbert Shelton, Victor Moscoso, Rick Griffin, & Paul Mavrides Release Date: Fall 2012 Page Count: 800 PP Black & White • Two-Volume, Slipcased Hardcover Set
At Forbes magazine's Booked blog, Vanna Le shares a slideshow of images from Flannery O'Connor: The Cartoons, our collection of the great writer's early graphic work coming in December, saying "The entire collection has just the right amount of charm you would expect from a young and witty O’Connor. But it’s more than just a book for laughs — it offers some insight into O’Connor’s personal life as well as her mockery towards the pretensions of her social environment."
Ten words I got to use in my translation of the upcoming second Adèle Blanc-Sec book (trying valiantly for an SPX premiere!): bollix, bolster (as a noun), deucedly, dingus, harridan, insensate, pied-à-terre, pithecanthropus, plinth, and thoroughfare.
"Cut from linoleum with oil-based ink applied to the ridges, the drawings are rudimentary but charming, a stripped down version of what Marjane Satrapi did in Persepolis. What's clear, though, is the perspective of the outsider, which O'Connor refined in her debut novel Wise Blood and stories such as 'A Good Man is Hard to Find.' ... Even though the cartoons are largely comic, and lack the richness of detail that a short story affords, it would be wrong to dismiss them as juvenilia…. The darkness she would make her own is already showing its teeth…. The cartoons, then, remain a glimpse of what might have been. And for fans, this is that all-too-rare commodity: a 'new' Flannery O'Connor book to slip on the shelf besides the scant few books she left us with."
"O’Connor’s funny drawings are distinguished both by the author’s morbid sense of humor and surprisingly sharp and memorable visual sense. Nearly a half-century after her death, O’Connor continues to surprise."
For those wondering whether there would be a follow-up to our well-received 2010 anthology Newave! The Underground Mini-Comix of the 1980s, good news! Editor Michael Dowers is now seeking submissions for two more volumes with a wider chronological reach. Here's the announcement, as posted at the mini-comics community site Poopsheet Foundation:
This series will cover mini comics from the dawn of time (early 70's) to the present. Since Newave has already been covered, the main focus will be on the 1990's to the present although earlier minis will be covered too. The books will be the same size (only more like 700 pages each) but will only reproduce mini comics that are 5 1/2 X 4 1/4 or smaller just like the Newave book. The two volumes are to be simply titled "Treasury of Mini Comics" Volumes one & two.
I am looking for contributors. I am looking for the best of the best. Any creator can send me their mini comics, disks, or photocopies to be considered for publication for this project. Or email me and send low-res jpegs to:
Please send titles to: Michael Dowers, 361 E. Birnie Slough Rd., Cathlamet, WA 98612.
If they want their material returned it is important to enclose return postage. Any mini comics that are kept will be placed in the Fantagraphics collection after the books are published. Also anybody sending actual mini comics will receive comics in trade from Brownfield press.
The new Diamond Previews catalog is out today and in it you'll find our usual 2-page spread with our releases scheduled to arrive in your local comic shop in September 2011 (give or take — some release dates have changed since the issue went to press). We're pleased to offer additional and updated information about these upcoming releases here on our website, to help shops and customers alike make more informed ordering decisions.
You'll find hotly-anticipated titles like the next volume of Walt Disney's Mickey Mouse by Floyd Gottfredson (a Diamond "Staff Pick"!), Pogo Vol. 1 (yes, Pogo!); The Art of Joe Kubert ("Certified Cool"!); the new Prison Pit; the Golden Age cover collection Action! Mystery! Thrills!; and our next prose book, Alexander Theroux's Estonia. See them all here!
Gary Panter's collected Dal Tokyo is on our spring list and production on the book is proceeding apace. Here, courtesy of Raymond Sohn, who is working on the book with Gary P., is a sneak peek at the new, much much improved (from the "horrible protocover" — Gary's words — that we used for our catalogs last time) cover.
If we publish the first Pogo book, the Joost Swarte collection, and this one all within about six months of each other, then, dear readers, what will you have left to complain about in terms of superlate books from Fantagraphics by next summer?
Don't answer that; we know there's a bunch. (B. Krigstein Vol. 2, for one.) Allow us our moment of relative triumph here.
Kevin Huizenga has revealed the cover art for Ganges #4 over on his blog — there will be a few tweaks before it goes to press, but this is pretty close to the final version. The issue makes its debut at Comic-Con next month and it's in the Previews catalog this month (with the old cover art) for shipping to comic shops in August! (Hats off to Sean T. Collins at Robot 6 for scooping us with the reveal.)