Max Gaines left Eastern Color Printing to found his own company, which he dubbed Educational Comics. At the start, they did comics about the Bible and more stuff you might expect from a company with that name. Then in 1947, he died in a boating accident, and his son William Gaines took over. The company was over $100,000 in the red. He scrapped the educational titles and hired a lot of new artists and writers, many of whom would also become famous elsewhere: Johnny Craig, Joe Kubert, Basil Wolverton, Otto Binder, and Joe Orlando, among others. Gaines would actually allow artists to sign their artwork, which was unusual at the time. The company decided instead of following the trend of superheroes that had been started by DC and Timely.
The company became most infamous for its crime, sci-fi, and horror comics. The sci-fi comics even managed to get Ray Bradbury to write for them. This happened when they seemingly plagiarized one of his stories. Rather than fight them, Bradbury allowed them to adapt some of his stories, including “Mars Is Heaven” and “There Came Soft Rains” from his Martian Chronicles.
The Horror and Crime comics became well-known for their graphic violence and imagery. The Horror Comics were each hosted by three hosts. The Crypt of Terror (later known as Tales From the Crypt) was hosted by the Crypt-Keeper. The Vault of Horror was hosted by the Vault-Keeper. The Old Witch hosted The Haunt of Fear. At first, each host had his/her own series, but eventually they shared titles.
EC’s graphic violence and mature content would eventually gain the attention of parents and psychologists, who were worried that their children would become criminals thanks to reading them. One particular psychologist was Dr. Frederick Wertham, who wrote a book called “Seduction of the Innocent” , which was based on his research of delinquent children who had read their comics. The comics became so popular that Timely and DC emulated the company.
Next time, we’ll talk about the Comics Code, which brought the end of the Golden Age of Comic Books.
Next Time: Chapter IV: Seal of Disapproval