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.
Join Fantagraphics this weekend for the 2012 Small Press Expo in Bethesda, Maryland! On September 15th & 16th, we'll be filling the Marriott Betheseda Conference Center with some dazzling debuts, panels, and signings! Come meet your favorite artists and get your books signed:
Heh, heh! Got a real chiller-diller this time fiends! Join me, The Crypt-Keeper, your host of howls, along with Jack Davis and Al Feldstein as we creep our way through four spine-tingling, hair-standing, blood-curdling tales of terror! We'll scare you silly! Trick or treat? Treat!!
Jack Davis's Tales from the Crypt is one of TWO special mini-comics we produced as a special Halloween 2012 give-away for participating comic shops (stay tuned for our announcement of the second one... here's a hint: rhymes with "Grasil Molverton"). Contact your local shop for availability.
We're like Navin Johnson on new phone book day over here!
Advance copies of these two highly-anticipated beauties arrived at the office yesterday: the first two volumes in our EC Comics Library series, Came the Dawn and Other Stories illustrated by Wallace Wood and Corpse on the Imjin! and Other Stories by Harvey Kurtzman et al. Came the Dawn features thrilling crime and suspense stories drawn by Wood (written mostly by Al Feldstein), and Corpse on the Imjin! contains Kurtzman's masterful and influential war stories illustrated by himself and others. If you didn't know and hadn't gathered, the volumes in this new series collect stories by genre and creator, in glorious black and white. (And don't they look handsome? Series design & art direction by good ol' Jacob Covey.) This classic material has never been collected this way before, and we're honored and proud to be doing it!
We've already posted excerpts from each book on its respective page with several full stories you can read (plus the tables of contents for your reference), and, of course, stay tuned for further previews. We also have a special deal for our mail-order customers where you can buy both books together for 20% off! Yes, we will have advance copies for sale at SPX next week and at our EC exhibit at Fantagraphics Bookstore & Gallery next month (stay tuned for more about that), and the books are due to hit the shelves in November.
The sing-song-i-est new Online Commentaries & Diversions:
• Review:Drawn Blog features a review of Steven Weissman's Barack Hussein Obama. Dustin Harbin says, "[the comics] seem less humorous and more like the slow aggregation of a large portrait, maybe not of the man, but of the time the man is living in."
• Review:The Comics Reporter confirms that Dal Tokyo by Gary Panter is THE book to buy this week. Tom Spurgeon states, "This is really the only book you need this week . . . I've been wanting to read a collected version of Gary Panter's strip for a time longer than all about a dozen personal relationships I currently have."
• Plug: Lots of book lust on the Collected Comics Library for the EC Library editions coming out soon featuring work from like Came the Dawn by Wally Wood,Corpse on the Imjin! by Harvey Kurtzman and future reprints from Al Williamson and Jack Davis. Chris Marshall says, "EC Archives are Dead! Long Live the EC Library!"
• Plug: The sweet people over at Robot 6 on Comic Book Resources started flipping through Previews and flipped out over some of our new releases. John Parkin on Walt Disney's Donald Duck: A Christmas for Shacktown by Carl Barks: "Fantagraphics continues its series of high-end collections of the best of Carl Barks’ duck stories, with the Christmas-themed third volume arriving just in time to be stuffed in somebody’s stocking." Graeme McMillan on The Love and Rockets Reader: From Hoppers to Palomar by Marc Sobel: "As a latecomer to this classic series, I’m looking forward to Marc Sobel’s look back at the first three decades of the work of Los Bros Hernandez to help me get caught up on what I missed the first time around and really need to get in collected edition. I suspect this may end up being an expensive project."
You won't believe how many debuts we're bringing with us to Bethesda for the 2012 Small Press Expo on September 15th & 16th! Here's your SPX shopping list -- bring extra bags to carry everything:
• The Lost Art of Ah Pook Is Here: Images from the Graphic Novel by Malcolm McNeill (not officially out 'til October!) In 1970, William S. Burroughs and artist Malcolm McNeill agreed to collaborate on a book-length meditation on time, power, control, and corruption that evoked the Mayan codices and specifically, the Mayan god of death, Ah Pook. McNeill created nearly a hundred paintings, illustrations, and sketches for the book, and these, finally, are seeing the light of day in The Lost Art of Ah Pook.
• Observed While Falling: Bill Burroughs, Ah Pook, and Me by Malcolm McNeill (not officially out 'til October!)Observed While Falling is an account of the personal and creative interaction that defined the collaboration between the writer William S. Burroughs and the artist Malcolm McNeill on the graphic novel Ah Pook Is Here. The memoir chronicles the events that surrounded it, the reasons it was abandoned and the unusual circumstances that brought it back to life.
• Barack Hussein Obama by Steven WeissmanIt’s neither a biography nor an experiment, but a whole, fully-realized parallel America, a dada-esque, surrealistic satirical vision that is no more cockeyed than the real thing, its weirdness no more weird, its vision of the world no more terrifying, where the zombie-esque simulacra of Joe Biden and Hillary and Newt and Obama wander, if not exactly through the corridors of power, through an America they made and have to live in, like it or not. NOTE: Steven Weissman will be signing at SPX!
• Blacklung by Chris Wright (not officially out until October!) Chris Wright’s Blacklung is unquestionably one of the most impressive graphic novel debuts in recent years, a sweeping, magisterially conceived, visually startling tale of violence, amorality, fortitude, and redemption, one part Melville, one part Peckinpah. Blacklung is a story that lives up to the term graphic novel, that could only exist in sequential pictures — densely textured, highly stylized, delicately and boldly rendered drawings that is, taken together, wholly original. NOTE: Chris Wright will be signing at SPX!
• Came the Dawn and Other Stories (The EC Comics Library) by author: Illustrated by Wallace Wood; written by Al Feldstein et al.; edited by Gary Groth (not officially out until October!) 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 Cartoon Utopia by Ron Rege, Jr.(not officially out until October!) Ron Regé, Jr. is a very unusual yet accomplished storyteller whose work exudes a passionate moral, idealistic core that sets him apart from his peers. The Cartoon Utopia is his Magnum Opus, a unique work of comic art that, in the words of its author, "focuses on ideas that I've become intrigued by that stem from magical, alchemical, ancient ideas & mystery schools." It's part sci-fi, part philosophy, part visual poetry, and part social manifesto. Regé's work exudes psychedelia, outsider rawness, and pure cartoonish joy.
• Corpse on the Imjin! and Other Stories (The EC Comics Library) by Harvey Kurtzman, et al.; edited by Gary Groth(not officially out until October!) 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.
• Naked Cartoonists: Drawers Drawing Themselves Without Drawers by Various Artists; edited by Gary GrothIn an irreverent twist to the fine art tradition of The Nude, this unique and original collection presents a “stripped” down version of the infamous “Gallery of Rogues” exhibit of cartoonist self-portraits at Ohio State University. Here you’ll find a cornucopia of cartoonists’ nude self-portraits from the collection of Mark J. Cohen and Rose Marie McDaniel.
• Heads or Tails by Lilli Carré(not officially out until November!) The creator of 2008’s acclaimed graphic novel The Lagoon — named to many annual critics’ lists including Publishers Weekly and USA Today’s Pop Candy — is back with a stunningly designed and packaged collection of some of the most poetic and confident short fiction being produced in comics today. These stories, created over a period of five years, touch on ideas of flip sides, choices, and extreme ambivalence. NOTE: Lilli Carré will be signing at SPX!
• The Hypo by Noah Van Sciver The debut graphic novel from Noah Van Sciver follows the twentysomething Abraham Lincoln as he loses everything, long before becoming our most beloved president. Lincoln is a rising Whig in the state’s legislature as he arrives in Springfield, IL to practice law. As time passes and uncertainty creeps in, young Lincoln is forced to battle a dark cloud of depression brought on by a chain of defeats and failures culminating into a nervous breakdown that threatens his life and sanity. This cloud of dark depression Lincoln calls “The Hypo.” NOTE: Noah Van Sciver will be signing at SPX!
• Is That All There Is? by Joost Swarte[softcover & hardcover 2nd edition debut] Under Swarte’s own exacting supervision, Is That All There Is? will collect virtually all of his alternative comics work from 1972 to date, including the RAW magazine stories that brought him fame among American comics aficionados in the 1980s.
• Love and Rockets: New Stories #5 by Gilbert & Jaime HernandezIn Jaime's story “Crime Raiders International Mobsters and Executioners,” Tonta comes to visit for a weekend and sees what kind of life the Frog Princess is living with Reno and Borneo. On the other-brother side, Gilbert celebrates the 30th anniversary by bringing one of his current characters (“Killer,” granddaughter to the legendary Luba) into the Palomar milieu. NOTE: Gilbert & Jaime Hernandez will be signing at SPX!
• Prison Pit: Book 4 by Johnny Ryan(not officially out until November!) “Cannibal F***face discovers the only way to escape the Caligulon is to brainf*** the Slorge and create a giant, brainless oafchild that only knows how to annihilate everything in its path. And what happens when the Slugstaxx show up and use their nightj*** to turn this mindless monster against CF? Total F***ing Mayhem.”
• Ralph Azham Vol. 1: Why Would You Lie to Someone You Love? by Lewis Trondheim(not officially out until October!) Within his tiny village, Ralph Azham is considered an insolent good-for-nothing layabout, a virtual pariah — particularly since he was supposed to be a Chosen One. (Things didn’t work out.) Yet his odd azure coloration and a few unique abilities (he can predict births and deaths) suggest that there may be more to him than meets the eye.
• Walt Disney's Mickey Mouse Vol. 4: House of the Seven Haunts by Floyd Gottfredson(not officially out until October!) Who says dead men tell no tales? When grim grinning ghosts come out to socialize, they’ll find fearless Mickey all ready to rumble — as soon as he’s done fighting gangsters, bandits, and international men of mystery, that is! From Africa to Eastern Europe, our favorite big cheese is in for terrifying thrills — and he’s bringing Goofy, Donald Duck, and that big palooka Pegleg Pete along for the ride!
• You'll Never Know Book 3: Soldier's Heart by C. Tyler(not officially out until October!) In one of the most eagerly-anticipated graphic novels of 2012, Soldier’s Heart concludes the story of Carol Tyler and her delving into her father’s war experiences in a way that is both surprising and devastating — and rather than trying to summarize this episode and thus possibly spoil it for readers, we prefer to simply offer a selection of comments on the first two installments of this autobiographical masterpiece.
The freshest fried-this-morning Online Commentaries & Diversions:
• Review: Tucker Stone on The Comics Journal gives a thumbs-up to Dungeon Quest Vol. 3 by Joe Daly. "Dungeon Quest–the mumbling stoner counterpart to its methed up metal freak cousin, Prison Pit–has a whole new stack of penis-obsessed pages to play with. It’s tempting to single out one part of this volume to label as best, but that temptation dissipates upon the realization that it’s going to be impossible to pick a winner."
• Review:BookGasm raves about Jacques Tardi's New York Mon Amour. JT Lindroos says, "It shuffles in elements from Tardi’s other books, but distills those familiar ingredients into a wholly unique concoction. . . It’s a love letter to an imaginary city bursting with life, depression and death, a city you love to observe from a distance."
• Plug:Noah Van Sciver finished out the TCJ Comic Diary week with a visit by Gary Groth. Heidi MacDonald of The Beat said nice things about The Hypo: "an extremely well researched look at Abraham Lincoln’s early days as a depressed young lawyer, will be one of the buzz books of the fall."
• Plug:Bleeding Cool and Rich Johnston show off some pages from Today is the Last Day of the Rest of Your Life by Ulli Lust, coming out this fall.
• Plug:Robot 6 and Bridget Alverson are excited for both the upcoming Wilfred Santiago books on Michael Jordan and John Brown. "If the images are any indication, Santiago is busting out from the limited palette he used for the Clemente book to full, brilliant color, applied in a bold, painterly style."
• Plug: The Covered blog continues to highlight new versions of Love and Rockets covers. This time it's L&R #50 drawn by Robert Goodin. Check out Goodin's eerie treatment of a classic.
• Plug: The Love and Rockets Northeast Tour is mentioned on BoingBoing. Thanks, Marc!
• Interview:Casey Burbach interviews editor John Benson on fanzine Squa Tront's issue #13 (forty years after issue #1 came out) and the EC collections that have been published: "I thought that the color in the latest “EC Archives” series was pretty bad, at least in the book that I saw – not appropriate for comics of that era. . . The Fantagraphics series will be produced with quality and taste, I’m sure. Hopefully, with a different distribution set-up, going into bookstores, they may also reach a new audience."
• Review (audio): The Comic Books are Burning in Hell podcast recently chatted up Johnny Gruelle's Mr. Twee-Deedle edited by Rick Marschall. Around the 38 minute mark is where they predict ". . . it'll wind up a real contender for 2012's 'thru the cracks' award for most sadly obscure release. . ." Let's avoid ANY books falling through the cracks, check out this broadsheet-sized wonder today!
• Review:The Australian checks out Flannery O'Connor: The Cartoons, edited by Kelly Gerald. Owen Heitmann says, "Flannery O'Connor: The Cartoons is primarily of historical interest, documenting the early development of the first postwar female writer to merit inclusion in the Library of America series. Editor Kelly Gerald has taken this archival approach to heart, reproducing apparently every extant example of O'Connor's cartooning, even doodles from later handwritten letters."
We rather inconveniently sold out of all of our back issues of Squa Tront: The EC Comics Magazine just before the brand new 13th issue came out, but we've just managed to get our hands on a limited supply of issues 10, 11 and 12! (And we mean limited: we have 2 copies of #12!) These are the last of 'em so get them while you still can!
48-page black & white/color 8.5" x 11" softcover • $9.99 ISBN: 978-1-60699-571-6
Ships in: May 2012 (subject to change) – This item will be available to order simultaneous with its release to comic shops.
Five years in the making and meticulously edited by John Benson, Squa Tront returns with a profusion of rare and interesting features from the EC era: the story behind Basil Wolverton’s first EC art; Howard Nostrand’s last interview; art from the unpublished third issue of Flip; Jack Davis’s WWII cartoons; plus EC era art by Wallace Wood, John and Marie Severin, Harvey Kurtzman, and Roy Krenkel. The longest running EC historical magazine and a perfect companion to Fantagraphics’ new series of EC reprints.
Download and read a 6-page PDF excerpt (1.7 MB) including the Table of Contents.