Tuesday, December 5, 2023

EC Comics in space!

I have never strayed too much from the horror comics when it came to the classic EC magazines. I appreciate the crime and the pirate stuff, and some of the war comics are impeccable, but it's the rotting ghouls, with their fetid breath etched in ink as they close in on their deserving victims, that was the good stuff. 

And I never really dug the science fiction .They had moments of artistic brilliance - the one story that had the hard-nosed space commander finally going soft, literally, is an unmatched nightmare image - but most of the comics were just too repetitive.

There were only so many times that an alien race turned out to be massive, or incredibly tiny, when they meet humans face to face; only so many times the Earth could be wiped out by alien happenstance and human idiocy. And there were only so many times they could do stories about hard it was to do these stories on a regular basis.

The designs for the aliens and the spacecraft were always impeccable, as crammed as they are onto the page. It took me years to realise the best way to read EC stories with a modern eye is to ignore the oppressive caption boxes completely, and now I resent them for crowding out the art by eternal talents like Orlando and Wood.

The one exception I would make is for the issue of Weird Science-Fantasy that is devoted to a pretty fucking comprehensive 'Flying Saucer Report'. The documentary format of this issue, which features real life encounters with UFOs in recent years, also has some lovely saucer action from the usual stellar roster of artists.

And the best part is the tone of the issue, which is a pure tirade blaming the government and the Air Force and anybody in power for covering up the truth about alien visitations, heckling them in the pages of this funny book.

Okay, so the Roswell thing really probably was a weather balloon, but we never got those answers this comic was demanding, and the mysteries are just as deep as they were 50 years ago. There is a sinking sense of reality in the idea that if the last idiot president didn't blurt out the truth, there's no truth to share. At least the rage of the EC crew is still palpable.

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