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‘The Best of EC Comics Artisan Edition’ TPB (review)

Written by written by Al Feldstein and Various
Art by Wally Wood, Harvey Kurtzman, Jack Davis,
Graham Ingels, Al Williamson, Alex Toth, , Various

Published by IDW Publishing

 

I’ve reviewed a lot of EC -related books in recent years and there isn’t a bad one among them.

Grant Geissman’s massive history and the recent Ray Bradbury collections are among the best books ever on EC. The former is by necessity all-encompassing, and the latter, very specific.

A lot of the other ones I’ve reviewed have been more about the legendary artists and their EC art.

Today, however, we get to the real reason that EC Comics are so well-regaled in the first place—the stories.

IDW’s The Best of EC Stories Artisan Edition, has it all.

You get 200 pages of many of the best and most memorable stories EC ever published, with some of the most impressive art ever in comic books, and all shot from the original art in pristine full color images of the black and white pages.

That last remark is bound to sound confusing.

Basically, the black and white original art pages labored over 70+ years ago now by the likes of “Ghastly” Graham Ingels, Al Williamson and friends, and the ever-popular Jack Davis, are photographed and printed here in color. This allows one the chance to see the discolorations, the stamps, the inked notes, penciled remarks, paint corrections, special effects, paste-over glue stains, and, of course, the genuinely gorgeous linework and use of black ink from the master artists like Wood and Toth.

There is some repetition here with the Bradbury collection, although, again, not really, as the stories here are all shown in raw original art form. ‘Touch and Go,” “Mars is Heaven,” “The Flying Machine,” and, most impressively, “A Sound of Thunder,” are here and all a delight to see again so soon, especially under such unique circumstances.

Most of the stories are, naturally, written by Al Feldstein, although Johnny Craig, Harvey Kurtzman, and lesser-known EC regulars such as Otto Binder, Carl Wessler and Jack Oleck, also appear.

Oleck, in fact, has a story with rare solo-credited art by Roy Krenkel. Entitled “Time to Leave,” it was one of the few I didn’t really recall when reading this collection but it must have made an impression on me at some point as I once wrote a time travel story in which the opening scene is a virtual duplicate of the one in this story!

Most of the truly famous (or infamous) EC stories are here: “Horror We? How’s Bayou?” “Master Race,” “Corpse on the Imjin,” “50 Girls 50,” “Judgment Day,” “Foul Play,” “’Tain’t the Meat…It’s the Humanity,” “My World,” and more.

Everything is separated by artist. Besides the aforementioned Davis, Krenkel, Kurtzman, Williamson, Ingels, and the visiting Toth, there are wonderful and creepy sci-fi and horror tales from Reed Crandall, Johnny Craig, Wallace Wood, Joe Orlando, and Bernie Krigstein. Surprisingly missing is EC stalwart, Jack Kamen, and one could make the case for a Mad story or two from Severin and/or Elder. Still…

Overall, though, The Best of EC Stories Artisan Edition may be the one volume out of all the EC collections that demonstrates to a modern audience everything that was special about EC Comics—not just their spectacular artwork but their stories that stick in your brain for days, years, decades!

So yeah, sure.

EC fans will need this in their collection, but if you’ve ever been the slightest bit curious as to why there ARE so many EC fans in the first place—might I suggest you start here.

Booksteve recommends

 

 

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