Thursday, August 5, 2010

Stuff the kiddies should read: E.C. Comic Books

Like all good American kids in the late seventies and early eighties, I had a paper route.  I soon discovered that people thought comic books were important and started putting my issues of Daredevil and Star Trek and Howard the Duck in plastic bags and storing them in cardboard boxes.  As I got into the hobby of collecting comics, I discovered the Holy Grail of golden age books-- The horror, crime and science fiction titles put out by E.C. in the early fifties and then snuffed by some uptight congressional bullshit.

Now, for those in the know, E.C. comics did espouse a certain morality, but it was done in a manner much more effective than any Bible or preacher could ever hope to produce.  In the world of E.C. comics, there was such a thing as karma (I apologize to all Hindus for using that term, as all Americans do, incorrectly.)  Thus, the cheating wife who plots to kill her husband gets a swift taste of justice as soon as her poor old hubby is feeding worms.  The abusive husband who kills his wife and her lover, well, he gets his too.  Alfred Hitchcock Presents would later tell the same kinds of stories to a "proper," prime time audience, but even the great Hitch paled before the graphic, relentless, brutal honesty of the E.C. comics.

A lot of people are familiar with Tales from the Crypt because of the lively TV series that appeared on HBO during the 1990s.  Because they were on pay TV, I think the producers were able to stick to the spirit of the original stories.  There were a couple of other horror titles, the Vault of Horror and the Haunt of Fear.  As much as I loved them, I think the best of the lot was Crime SuspenStories.  Here were nasty noir tales of revenge and justice done with an extra kick Hollywood could never have gotten away with.

Back in 1981 and '82, when I was at the height of my comic collecting days, I had many opportunities to purchase original E.C. comics.  I could never muster the patience, however, to save up for what, at that time, I perceived to be a steep price tag of forty and sixty and sometimes one hundred dollars.  Today, those comics are worth, in good condition, thousands.  Oh well...

You can find reprints everywhere and they are worth the time it takes to read them.  I especially recommend sharing them with your children.  If you want them to grow up to be a decent person like myself, that is.

1 comment:

  1. I've done a couple posts on EC myself. Fabulous comics that I still collect.