It’s Alive! EC Comics Returns

EC Comics, which specialized in tales of horror, crime and suspense, and was shut down in the “moral panic” of the 1950s, is making a comeback.

Oni Press will publish two new anthology series under the EC Comics banner. The first, Epitaphs From the Abyss, coming in July, will be horror focused; Cruel Universe, the second, arrives in August and will tell science fiction stories.

Hunter Gorinson, the president and publisher of Oni Press, said the new stories will interpret the world of today, much as EC Comics explored the American psyche of the 1950s. The cover designs will feel familiar to EC Comics fans: Running down the top left is a label declaring the type of story — “Terror” or “Horror” or “Science-Fiction” — and the logo evokes the bold colors and fonts of past series like “Tales From the Crypt” and “The Vault of Horror.”

The series are a partnership between Oni and the family of William M. Gaines, the original publisher of EC Comics, who died in 1992. Gary Groth, the editor of The Comics Journal, told The New York Times in 2013 that EC Comics was “arguably the best commercial comics company in the history of the medium.”

Cathy Gaines Mifsud, a daughter of William M. Gaines, who is also president of the family company, William M. Gaines Agent, said, “We’re very excited it is coming back for a whole new generation.” The new stories will be written by comics all-stars like Jason Aaron, Rodney Barnes, Cecil Castellucci and Matt Kindt.

EC’s original subversive content brought it to the attention of the Senate Subcommittee on Juvenile Delinquency in 1954 and its hearings on whether comics were linked to moral decay.

Gaines testified: “The truth is that delinquency is the product of the real environment in which the child lives and not of the fiction he reads.” The hearings resulted in comic book publishers founding the Comics Code Authority, to self-impose standards on what comics could depict. Gaines soon closed down EC and shifted his focus to his humor publication, Mad.

EC has remained highly revered, and collected editions of its stories have been sold by various publishers over the years. The original art for one EC story, “Master Race,” about a postwar encounter between a Nazi war criminal and a Holocaust survivor, sold for $600,000 at Heritage Auctions in 2018.

Along with the top-notch writers, the artists of the new stories include Peter Krause, Malachi Ward and Dustin Weaver. Covers will be drawn by Lee Bermejo, Greg Smallwood, J.H. Williams III, among others.

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