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EC Comics: Race, Shock, and Social Protest

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2020 Eisner Award for Best Academic/Scholarly Work Entertaining Comics Group (EC Comics) is perhaps best-known today for lurid horror comics like Tales from the Crypt and for a publication that long outlived the company’s other titles, Mad magazine. But during its heyday in the early 1950s, EC was also an early innovator in another genre of comics: the so-called “preachies 2020 Eisner Award for Best Academic/Scholarly Work Entertaining Comics Group (EC Comics) is perhaps best-known today for lurid horror comics like Tales from the Crypt and for a publication that long outlived the company’s other titles, Mad magazine. But during its heyday in the early 1950s, EC was also an early innovator in another genre of comics: the so-called “preachies,” socially conscious stories that boldly challenged the conservatism and conformity of Eisenhower-era America.  EC Comics examines a selection of these works—sensationally-titled comics such as “Hate!,” “The Guilty!,” and “Judgment Day!”—and explores how they grappled with the civil rights struggle, antisemitism, and other forms of prejudice in America. Putting these socially aware stories into conversation with EC’s better-known horror stories, Qiana Whitted discovers surprising similarities between their narrative, aesthetic, and marketing strategies. She also recounts the controversy that these stories inspired and the central role they played in congressional hearings about offensive content in comics.  The first serious critical study of EC’s social issues comics, this book will give readers a greater appreciation of their legacy. They not only served to inspire future comics creators, but also introduced a generation of young readers to provocative ideas and progressive ideals that pointed the way to a better America.  


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2020 Eisner Award for Best Academic/Scholarly Work Entertaining Comics Group (EC Comics) is perhaps best-known today for lurid horror comics like Tales from the Crypt and for a publication that long outlived the company’s other titles, Mad magazine. But during its heyday in the early 1950s, EC was also an early innovator in another genre of comics: the so-called “preachies 2020 Eisner Award for Best Academic/Scholarly Work Entertaining Comics Group (EC Comics) is perhaps best-known today for lurid horror comics like Tales from the Crypt and for a publication that long outlived the company’s other titles, Mad magazine. But during its heyday in the early 1950s, EC was also an early innovator in another genre of comics: the so-called “preachies,” socially conscious stories that boldly challenged the conservatism and conformity of Eisenhower-era America.  EC Comics examines a selection of these works—sensationally-titled comics such as “Hate!,” “The Guilty!,” and “Judgment Day!”—and explores how they grappled with the civil rights struggle, antisemitism, and other forms of prejudice in America. Putting these socially aware stories into conversation with EC’s better-known horror stories, Qiana Whitted discovers surprising similarities between their narrative, aesthetic, and marketing strategies. She also recounts the controversy that these stories inspired and the central role they played in congressional hearings about offensive content in comics.  The first serious critical study of EC’s social issues comics, this book will give readers a greater appreciation of their legacy. They not only served to inspire future comics creators, but also introduced a generation of young readers to provocative ideas and progressive ideals that pointed the way to a better America.  

30 review for EC Comics: Race, Shock, and Social Protest

  1. 5 out of 5

    Sara

    An in-depth study of EC Comics and how its creators used the medium to promote social justice. Academic but never dry. Stops just short of Frederick Wertham and the Comics Code.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Dominick

    Whitted's excellent, carefully-researched and historically-grounded study of EC comics is both insightful and eminently readable. Her focus is the so-called "preachies," the stories specifically and explicitly interested in making critical social commentary, especially about racism, and she does deep dives into several key stories. I was mainly interested in what she had to say about "Judgment Day," to which she devotes a chapter that offers very illuminating insights. Well-illustrated with samp Whitted's excellent, carefully-researched and historically-grounded study of EC comics is both insightful and eminently readable. Her focus is the so-called "preachies," the stories specifically and explicitly interested in making critical social commentary, especially about racism, and she does deep dives into several key stories. I was mainly interested in what she had to say about "Judgment Day," to which she devotes a chapter that offers very illuminating insights. Well-illustrated with sample pages and panels. Highly recommended, especially to those interested in EC.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Alex Daniel

    didn't know what to expect here, but i was pleasantly surprised by the way Whitted illustrates how a perceived-schlocky publication house was actually subversively progressive in some respects. it could stand to be longer, but "leave them wanting more" isn't a bad move. more historical context, in my opinion, would have been helpful to appreciate some of what was going on in comics before EC and in competitors' houses. didn't know what to expect here, but i was pleasantly surprised by the way Whitted illustrates how a perceived-schlocky publication house was actually subversively progressive in some respects. it could stand to be longer, but "leave them wanting more" isn't a bad move. more historical context, in my opinion, would have been helpful to appreciate some of what was going on in comics before EC and in competitors' houses.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Tom Shapira

    When your major complaint about a book is that it should've been longer you've probably found a good one. I do wish the last two chapters were a bit longer ("Master Race" feels rushed through and "Judgment Day" has so many interesting points made about it could almost be a book by itself), but otherwise this is a good example of critical analysis that isn't overtly academic in its terminology. When your major complaint about a book is that it should've been longer you've probably found a good one. I do wish the last two chapters were a bit longer ("Master Race" feels rushed through and "Judgment Day" has so many interesting points made about it could almost be a book by itself), but otherwise this is a good example of critical analysis that isn't overtly academic in its terminology.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Michael

    Although a bit academic (i.e. dry) Whitted's analysis is sharp and considered, and she makes good use of previous writing on the subject of EC's many virtues. Although a bit academic (i.e. dry) Whitted's analysis is sharp and considered, and she makes good use of previous writing on the subject of EC's many virtues.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Kaleb

  7. 4 out of 5

    Daddy Nags

  8. 4 out of 5

    John Weaver

  9. 4 out of 5

    Adi Robertson

  10. 4 out of 5

    Bob

  11. 4 out of 5

    Zack Kruse

  12. 4 out of 5

    Christy

  13. 4 out of 5

    Ander LG

  14. 4 out of 5

    Rocco Versaci

  15. 4 out of 5

    Nick Zinn

  16. 4 out of 5

    Shea Proulx

  17. 5 out of 5

    jo

  18. 5 out of 5

    Thailer Jimerson

  19. 4 out of 5

    Mark

  20. 4 out of 5

    Jesse

  21. 5 out of 5

    Patrick Holt

  22. 5 out of 5

    Krista Turner

  23. 4 out of 5

    Jason

  24. 5 out of 5

    Brian

  25. 4 out of 5

    Nick Spacek

  26. 5 out of 5

    Maite

  27. 5 out of 5

    Thomas Maluck

  28. 4 out of 5

    Rebecca

  29. 4 out of 5

    Mjhancock

  30. 4 out of 5

    Katie

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