History of Comic Books: The Golden Age Chapter III: Entering the Crypt


Max Gaines, the original CEO and founder of EC Comics.

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.

A comic published by EC during its Educational Comics period
William Gaines, CEO of EC, who renamed it Entertaining Comics

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.

Weird Science was one of two sci-fi anthology comics published by EC Comics, the other being Weird Fantasy.
Crime Suspen-Stories, EC’s Crime Fiction anthology comics
Two-Fisted Tales, EC’s military fiction anthology comic
The Haunt of Fear, one of EC’s three horror anthology comics

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.

The Old Witch, host of “The Haunt of Fear”
The Vault -Keeper host of “The Vault of Horror”
The Crypt-Keeper, host of “Tales From the Crypt”

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


Author: rocklobsterjwt

I am a Christian and an anime fan. My blog will cover anime reviews and maybe an occasional story

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