Its under-narrated history is now the subject of an upcoming book by TASCHEN, which explores the full backstory of the company alongside over 1,000 illustrations from EC’s archives. This includes over 100 images from the archives of EC’s founders which have never before been in print.
During the 1950s, EC used the format of comic books to explore new genres: horror, crime, true-to-life war stories and science fiction were frequently featured. Its comics became known for their highly gory and morbid storytelling, and for their unflinching approach to discussing contemporary issues including racism, drug addiction, anti-Semitism, and police corruption. As the horror novelist Joe Hill has remarked, “they were to me what Grimms’ fairy tales were to children in the 19th century.”
Though EC never created franchises as well-known as Superman or Wonder Woman, it took a truly pioneering approach that tested the boundaries of what comics ‘should’ talk about – anticipating and influencing a generation of graphic novelists that would follow it.
Sadly, their progressive approach attracted the attention of the morality watchdogs of the period, leading to a Congressional hearing on “juvenile delinquency” and an inquiry into the deleterious effects horror and crime comics. Shortly after that, the publisher was closed for good.
Curated by comic expert Grant Geissman, the new book, The History of EC Comics, explores this story and acknowledges EC’s profound impact on other comic book artists – and on pop culture more broadly. Released on August 19, it will be available from the TASCHEN webstore for £150 (approx. $196 USD).