Its alive! The return of EC comics


EC Comics, which specialized in horror, crime and suspense stories and was closed by the “moral panic” of the 1950s, is making a comeback.

Oni Press will publish two new anthology series under the EC Comics banner. The first, Epitaphs From the Abyss, coming in July, will focus on horror; Cruel Universe, the second, arrives in August and will tell science fiction stories.

Hunter Gorinson, president and publisher of Oni Press, said the new stories will interpret today’s world, much as EC Comics explored the American psyche of the 1950s. The cover designs will be familiar to EC fans. Comics: At the top left is a label declaring the type of story: “Horror,” “Horror,” or “Science Fiction,” and the logo evokes the bold colors and fonts of the past. series like “Tales From the Crypt” and “The Vault of Horror.”

The series is a partnership between Oni and the family of William M. Gaines, the original editor of EC Comics, who died in 1992. Gary Groth, editor of The Comics Journal, told The New York Times in 2013 that EC Comics was ” “It is arguably the best commercial comics company in the history of the medium.”

Cathy Gaines Mifsud, daughter of William M. Gaines, who is also president of the family business, William M. Gaines Agent, said, “We are very excited to have it return for a whole new generation.” The new stories will be written by comic stars such as Jason Aaron, Rodney Barnes, Cecil Castellucci and Matt Kindt.

EC’s original subversive content caught the attention of the Senate Subcommittee on Juvenile Delinquency in 1954 and its hearings into whether the comics were linked to moral decay.

Gaines testified: “The truth is that delinquency is a product of the real environment in which the child lives and not of the fiction he reads.” The hearings resulted in comics publishers founding the Comics Code Authority, to self-impose standards for what comics could represent. Gaines soon closed EC and focused on his humor publication, Mad.

EC remains highly revered, and over the years several publishers have sold collected editions of his stories. Original art for an EC story, “Master Race,” about a postwar encounter between a Nazi war criminal and a Holocaust survivor, sold for $600,000 at Heritage Auctions in 2018.

In addition to top-notch writers, artists on the new stories include Peter Krause, Malachi Ward, and Dustin Weaver. The covers will be drawn by Lee Bermejo, Greg Smallwood, JH Williams III, among others.

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