Friday, August 05, 2011


I'm always hunting for bargains on cool, Golden Age comics. When I was a young man I had a really impressive EC comic book collection. For those of you who don't know about EC, it was the company owned by Bill Gaines who published Mad Magazine. Before he had Harvey Kurtzman create Mad for him (it started out as a comic book), he published comics. But he didn't just publish comic books. He published arguably the finest comic books ever created.

Gaines had a canny eye for talent and he intentionally went after the best comic artists in the business to work for him. You had to be something special to lay down the lines for EC. The artists who passed through its doors as employees is simply amazing. Jack Davis. Frank Frazetta. Al Williamson. Roy Krenkel. Bill Elder. Al Feldstein. Harvey Kurtzman. John Severin. Reed Crandall. George Evan. Wally Wood. Bernie Krigstein. Joe Orlando. Jack Kamen. Graham Ingels...
If you weren't among the finest, you didn't work at EC.

Years ago I sold off my EC books. The most I ever owned at any one time was 160 individual EC comics. But, like everything else that was collectible in those days, I sold. I was, after all, a retail merchant and that's what that stuff was to me. Product to be moved out, generally as quickly as possible. The ECs I managed to hold onto for some years, but they went out the door. It didn't take very long to sell them all.

These days I pick them up from time to time when the right deal comes my way. This past week I managed to grab a couple of issues of TWO-FISTED TALES. TWO-FISTED was an adventure comic, often with true stories featuring interpretations of actual events. John Severin did the lion's share of the cover art and seemed to have a story in almost every issue. It was his kind of book. That was something else about Gaines and his editors--they knew what kind of story fit a particular artist.

Alas, EC was killed off by the right wing madness that swept the USA during the 1950s. It was deemed that comic books were dangerous stuff for kids, leading them to become delinquents, drug addicts, and communists. So the kind of story that EC published--stories that pushed envelopes and crashed through barriers--couldn't be done there anymore, so Gaines sadly pulled the plug on his comic book empire, banking his publishing future entirely on one title--MAD MAGAZINE, which went to magazine format to circumvent the Comics Code Authority that had emasculated his other books.

So. Here are two old EC comics that I was able to grab for my personal collection. Nice books!



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