On the same day that Fantagraphics announced The Complete Zap Comix, the publisher revealed it will bring yet another treasure trove of groundbreaking comics back to the stands. At its panel at Comic-Con International and in an interview with The Comics Reporter’s Tom Spurgeon, Fantagraphics announced it had acquired the rights to publish the EC Comics library from the representatives of its late publisher, William M. Gaines.
Known for pushing comics’ boundaries of formal innovation and craft as well as raw content before anti-comics hysteria and the creation of the Comics Code helped stifle the publisher in the mid-’50s, EC has generally been reprinted in formats that center on its (in)famous horror, crime, science fiction, and war anthology series, such as Tales from the Crypt, The Vault of Horror, The Haunt of Fear, Crime SuspenStories, Weird Science, Weird Fantasy, Two-Fisted Tales, and Frontline Combat. What sets the Fantagraphics reprint project apart is that individual creators’ work will be culled from the series in which it appeared and presented in a series of black-and-white solo spotlight volumes. The first four books announced will collect war stories written by Harvey Kurtzman (Corpse on the Imjin and Other Stories, featuring art by Kurtzman, Gene Colan, Russ Heath, and Joe Kubert), suspense stories by Wally Wood (Came the Dawn and Other Stories), horror stories by written by Al Feldstein and illustrated by Jack Davis, and science fiction stories by Al Williamson.
Click on over to The Comics Reporter for more details, including an interview with editor and co-publisher Gary Groth.
Legal | The general affairs committee of the Tokyo Metropolitan Assembly has approved the government’s revised amendment to the Youth Healthy Development Ordinance, clearing the way for a vote by the full assembly on Wednesday. The controversial bill would further restrict sexual content in manga, anime and video games. A breakdown of the legislation can be found here. The Mainichi Daily News provides commentary. [Anime News Network]
Legal | In a surprise move, the Consumer Product Safety Commission has decided that the DC superhero- and Wizard of Oz-themed drinking glasses recalled last month because of high lead content aren’t children’s products and, therefore, not subject to recall. [The Associated Press]
Passings | Bluegrass musician and comic-art collector Don Lineberger, 71, died Dec. 5 after being pulled from a house fire in Valdosta, Georgia. Smoke inhalation is believed to be the cause of death. A banjo player who performed with the likes of Bill Monroe, Glen Campbell and Steve Martin, Lineberger was also known for his extensive collection of EC Comics memorabilia. Posters in this thread at the Collectors Society message board are attempting to compile a list of original EC work likely lost in the fire. [The Valdosta Daily Times]
Comics College is a monthly feature where we provide an introductory guide to some of the comics medium’s most important auteurs and offer our best educated suggestions on how to become familiar with their body of work.
Today it’s time (long pat time actually) to take a look at one of the most influential and undisputed masters of the comics medium, Harvey Kurtzman.
While the U.S. comic-book scare of the 1950s boasted Senate hearings, bonfires and the founding of the Comics Code Authority, it always seemed to be lacking a certain … something. It turns out that “something” was vampire-hunting children.
Don’t worry, though, Scotland had our backs.
In its preview of an upcoming BBC Radio 4 documentary, BBC Scotland recounts the incident that set off the United Kingdom’s horror-comic panic and led to strict censorship laws: On the evening of Sept. 23, 1954, hundreds of children, armed with knives and sharpened sticks, descended on a Glasgow cemetery to hunt the so-called Gorbals Vampire, a 7-foot-tall revenant with iron teeth who was said to have eaten two local boys.
The children, ages 4 to 14, were sent home by a constable, but they returned night after night, determined to find and destroy the fiend.
Of course, there was no vampire, and no missing schoolboys. But just as the Glasgow youths were swept up in an urban legend, they were caught up in a media and political feeding frenzy as adults were eager to find an explanation — or a scapegoat, perhaps — for the unusual, and unnerving, behavior.
Much like politicians on this side of the Atlantic, those in the U.K. settled on American horror comics, such as EC’s Tales From The Crypt and The Vault of Horror. Never mind that there were no iron-fanged, kidnapping vampires in any of those titles. In 1955 the Children and Young Persons (Harmful Publications) Act was passed, banning the sale to minors of magazines and comics portraying “incidents of a repulsive or horrible nature.” And, well, that was that.
The Radio 4 documentary, which airs at 4 p.m. PST on March 30, sounds fascinating, as it includes interviews with people who as children participated in the hunt for the Gorbals Vampire. (You should be able to listen to the story on the BBC iPlayer.) Plus, y’know, vampire-hunting children!
More than five decades later, it appears as if the iron-fanged creature actually may have sprung from a local nursery bogey — a monster created by parents to keep naughty children in line — called the Iron Man, and not from those awful, awful American horror comics. So … oops?
(The accompanying newspaper clip is borrowed from the Southern Necropolis Research website).
Welcome to another edition of Send Us Your Shelf Porn. Our special guest this week is Joe Hare, the manager at Comix Connection in Mechanicsburg, Pa., one of several stores in my area and one of my favorite places to shop. Joe’s a great guy and he’s got quite an impressive collection of comics, as I think you’ll agree.
Before we start down that road though, it’s time for the weekly pitch: Shelf Porn needs your help to keep it going. Send us photos of your collection or perhaps just suggest some people you know who might be interested in contributing by emailing me at cmautnerATcomcastDOTnet. We’re always on the lookout for good shelves.
And now here’s Joe …