The great Al Feldstein celebrates his 87th birthday today, so what better day to reveal the first all-Feldstein volume in our EC Comics Library series? It gives us great pleasure to be presenting Child of Tomorrow! and Other Stories, coming in Summer 2013, collecting sci-fi stories written and drawn by Feldstein from the pages of Weird Science and Weird Fantasy. Of course, you can experience Feldstein's prolific EC writing in the Wallace Wood-illustrated Came the Dawn and Other Stories and many forthcoming volumes in the EC Comics Library series!
Oh, and in Spring of next year, look for Fall Guy for Murder and Other Stories, collecting Johnny Craig's Crime SuspenStories tales!
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.
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.
Another entertaining evening at Fantagraphics Bookstore & Gallery last Saturday for the launch of our EC Comics Library line. Thanks to series associate editor J. Michael Catron and the enchanting Molly Nilsson for providing a focus to the festivities. If you missed it, you have through October 31 to view the display. No better time than this Saturday, October 20 from 6:00 to 8:00 PM, when the bookstore welcomes the incomparable Charles Burns with special guests Gabrielle Bell and Tom Kaczynski. Pick up brand new graphic novels by Burns and Bell, and preview Kaczynski's forthcoming Fantagraphics title Beta Testing the Apocalypse.
Speaking of the apocalypse, we'll be serving complimentary samples of Elysian Brewing's Black Hole-inspired "12 Beers of the Apocalypse," including "Blight" Pumpkin Ale and a preview tasting of "Omen" - not released to the general public until the following day. This event coincides with Elysian's "Great Pumpkin Brew Festival" up the street at their Georgetown bottling facility. Taste dozens of pumpkin beers from regional boutique breweries. Yummy. All this plus massive Halloween surprises make this another event not to be missed. See you then.
A convincing case can be made that Harvey Kurtzman was as influential as Andy Warhol or the Beatles in shaping youth culture in the last half of the twentieth century. His work with EC comics and MAD magazine emboldened a generation to question authority and employ art in the service of degenerate discourse. American society was never quite the same in his wake. Please join us this Saturday, October 13 from 6:00 to 9:00 PM at Fantagraphics Bookstore & Gallery to celebrate the legacy of Kurtzman and his EC cohorts with "The Horror: Selections from the EC Comics Library."
Visitors to the reception will receive free copies of Tales From the Crypt EC sampler by Jack Davis. A display of pages from the first two EC Comics Library collections by Kurtzman and Wallace Wood will be supplemented by a short slide presentation by series associate editor J. Michael Catron. Complimentary beverages and seasonal snacks will be served. A highlight of the evening is a free concert by Berlin-based recording artist Molly Nilsson. Her lyrical approach and haunting vocal delivery perfectly reflect the EC aesthetic. Here's Molly performing live in Prague earlier this year. Sheesh! Talk about seducing the innocent...
• San Francisco, CA:Daniel Clowes and Dave Eggers take the stage at Litquake, San Francisco's annual literary festival! The two will discuss the vagaries of the creative process, their favorite comics, books, and movies, and anything else that might come up. (more info)
• Seattle, WA: Our latest exhibit The Horror: from the EC Comics Librarydebuts at the Fantagraphics Bookstore & Gallery! Our own Mike Catron will present a short slideshow presentation, and we'll have musical entertainment from Swedish-born, Berlin-based recording artist Molly Nilsson. (more info)
There really is a Great Pumpkin! He's bringing Charles Burns, Gabrielle Bell, and Tom Kaczynski to Fantagraphics Bookstore & Gallery on Saturday, October 20 at 6:00 PM. This event coincides with Elysian Brewing's Great Pumpkin Brew Festival - (just up the street at their Georgetown bottling facility) - featuring dozens of seasonal pumpkin beers from regional boutique breweries. The bookstore will be serving complimentary samples of Blight Pumpkin Ale from Elysian's Black Hole-inspired 12 Beers of the Apocalypse series. Our EC Comics Library exhibition, "The Horror," provides the perfect atmosphere for this festive pre-Halloween function. Don't miss it!
Visitors to "The Horror: Selections from the EC Comics Library" on Saturday, October 13 at Fantagraphics Bookstore & Gallery will have the added pleasure of viewing "Apopalyptic America," an exhibition of new works by Jem Eaton. His postmodern paintings combine pop culture motifs with fine art techniques to create colorful comments on classic cartoon characters. The show is at the One Night Stand Gallery space directly above the bookstore and Georgetown Records, the site of a free concert that evening by Berlin-based recording artist Molly Nilsson. These events coincide with the lively Georgetown Art Attack featuring visual and performing arts presentations throughout the historic arts community. See you all then.
The lurid crime and horror comics of the fifties created nationwide hysteria. Unsubstantiated claims that comic books caused juvenile delinquency, circulated by psychiatrist Dr. Fredric Wertham in his book Seduction of the Innocent, led to sensational Senate hearings and the introduction of the Comics Code Authority – a self-censoring body that ended this age of classic American comics. At the peak of their popularity, crime and horror comics on the EC imprint sold millions of copies each issue despite being demonized by political opportunists. It was only later understood that these disposable publications were arguably the work of the greatest cartoonists of their generation.
Musical entertainment will be provided by Swedish-born, Berlin-based recording artist Molly Nilsson. Her haunting vocal delivery and lyrical approach perfectly complement the EC aesthetic. This event coincides with the colorful Georgetown Art Attack featuring visual and performing arts presentations throughout Seattle’s spookiest neighborhood. Celebrate the beginning of Halloween season in style on this extraordinary evening.
The Horror: Selections from the EC Comics Library Opening reception Saturday, October 13, 6:00 to 9:00 PM Performance by Berlin-based recording artist Molly Nilsson. Exhibition continues through Halloween.