ENTERTAINING COMICS, more commonly known as EC COMICS, was an American publisher of comic books specializing in horror fiction, crime fiction, satire, military fiction and science fiction from the 1940s through the mid-1950s. Noted for their high quality and shock endings, these stories were also unique in their socially conscious, progressive themes (including racial equality, anti-war advocacy, nuclear disarmament, and environmentalism) that anticipated the Civil Rights Movement and dawn of 1960s counterculture.

TALES FROM THE CRYPT was an American bi-monthly horror comic anthology series published by EC from 1950 to 1955, producing 27 issues. Along with its sister titles, THE HAUNT OF FEAR and THE VAULT OF HORROR, Tales from the Crypt was popular, but in the late 1940s and early 1950s comic books came under attack from parents, clergymen, schoolteachers and others who believed the books contributed to illiteracy and juvenile delinquency. In April and June 1954, highly publicized congressional subcommittee hearings on the effects of comic books upon children left the comics industry shaken.

EC zombie cover Haunt of Fear 17 Vault of Horror 35

Leave it to EC (and editor Harvey Kurtzman) to bring a new reality dimension to war with FRONTLINE COMBAT.

Frontline Combat frontline combat civil war

EC Comics did stories on racist violence, anti-Semitism, animal rights, the genocide of Native Americans, drug addiction and more. Had EC not succumbed to Senate Sub-Committee hysteria and the mass book burnings that followed a few years later, perhaps we might today see an even more uncomfortable image of the same child with his foot blown off or some other powerful image that occurs when we drop bombs on civilians. Then again, maybe a half-century of this kind of reality "entertainment" might have resulted in a generation not so compliant of our acts of, and support of state terrorism and of course, not so easily led to war.

With the subsequent imposition of a highly restrictive Comics Code, EC Comics publisher Bill Gaines cancelled Tales from the Crypt and its two companion horror titles, along with the company's remaining crime and science fiction series in September 1954. All EC titles have been reprinted at various times since their demise, and stories from the horror series have been adapted for television and film.

In 1954–55, censorship pressures prompted it to concentrate on the humor magazine Mad, leading to the company's greatest and most enduring success. Consequently, by 1956, the company ceased publishing all of its comic lines except Mad.


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