Saturday, October 16, 2021

The Golden Bookshelf:

The EC Horror Library of the 1950s

Golden Age guru Rob Salkowitz dusts off and de-crypts an EC compendium worthy of collecting in this week’s offering from The Golden Bookshelf.

There are perhaps no comics more lionized by their fans than the EC comics of the 1950s, particularly gruesome horror titles such as Tales from the Crypt and Haunt of Horror. With talent like Graham “Ghastly” Ingels, Jack Davis, Wally Wood, Johnny Craig and others illustrating their lurid tales of revenge and ironic justice, writer/editors William Gaines and Al Feldstein captured the imagination of the young baby boomers of the 1950s and created the first generation of self-consciously devoted comics fans. When the Comics Code of 1954 made EC a martyr to the righteous fury of the censors, the legendary status of these now-forbidden titles was assured.

It’s no surprise that when these fans came of age, their very earliest professional projects were to bring the ghoulish delights of their childhood back into print. EC “fan-addicts” Ron Barlow and Bhob Stewart produced the deluxe, oversize, full-color collection The EC Horror Library of the 1950s for Nostalgia Press in 1971, making it one of the first reprint editions of classic comic book stories to appear in US book stores. The book intersperses brief artist biographies, letter pages and house ads among over 20 classic EC horror tales, representing all the great artists (including young Frank Frazetta, an occasional EC contributor). Printed on heavy white paper, the stories’ colors sparkle thanks to guides by EC’s original colorist, Marie Severin.

The EC library — including their great science fiction, crime, war and humor titles — has been reprinted in many forms over the years, from monthly pamphlets to deluxe slip-cased box-sets, but this was the first, and in some ways the best, representation of the original material. The love and enthusiasm of the editors, never absent from any EC reprint project, is seen here at the peek of youth. The EC Horror Library was sold for years in ads in the back pages of Warren magazines and in the remainder bins of mall bookstores, but today it has become a hard-to-find collectors’ item.

The EC Horror Library of the 1950s

Nostalgia Press
© EC Comics

Publication Year: 1971
Cover Price: $19.95
Writer: William Gaines and Al Feldstein
Artist: George Evans, Al Feldstein, Reed Crandall, Jack Davis, Wally Wood, Bernie Krigstein, Graham Ingels, Joe Orlando, Al Williamson, Johnny Craig, Jack Kamen, Bill Elder, Frank Frazetta, Angelo Torres


Oversize hardcover (14”x10”), approx.
200 pp. full color

Rob Salkowitz is a Seattle-based writer and authority on all manner of aging newsprint. You can e-mail your comments and queries to Rob at rob_comics@yahoo.com. Use "ComicBase" as the subject line.

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