Talk:William Gaines

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Problems[edit]

This article has a large number of problems that need attention. I'm going to list what I think they are. I may or may not come back later to fix the problems.

  • "he was arguably the first publisher to oversee a line of comic books with sufficient artistic quality and interest to appeal to adults"

I dont think that statement in its current form can really be supported. The books certainly appealed to an older audience and had more mature subject matter, but its difficult to establish that EC had an "adult" following with the material was published.

  • "Bill Gaines found his niche in publishing horror, science fiction and fantasy comics, as well as realistic war comics"

There is nothing particularly realistic about the EC war comics. They are different than other contemporary war comics, but not in any way realistic.

  • It was so popular that dozens of imitations were published, including EC's own Panic.

Dozens? Maybe over thirty years, but I can't remember more than a handful at any given time.

  • EC horror comics were not simply compilations of ghoulish clichés, but subtle, satiric approaches to horror with genuine dilemmas and startling "twist" outcomes.

In looking over most of the EC content, I can't find many things that I would classify as "subtile" or with "genuine dilemmas". What Satire there was worked almost at the level of self-parody.

  • Likewise, EC's science fiction and fantasy titles dealt with adult issues like racism and the meaning of progress.

Where the are the examples of the scifi books dealing with racism other than one head-shot of an astronaut? And what story dealt with the "meaning of progress"?

  • Gaines's comics may have appealed to adults, but comic books were considered by the general public to be aimed at children.

Again, which adults? EC was selling at a higher age group than other comics, but its difficult to support the idea that they were aimed at adults. It also should be mentioned that Gaines' product was distributed and racked with all other comics which were aimed at children.

  • With the publication of Dr. Fredric Wertham's Seduction of the Innocent, comic books in the Gaines style drew the attention of the U.S. Congress and the moralizing classes in general.

"moralizing classes" is POV.

  • Gaines' testimony before a Senate subcommittee attracted notoriety for its unapologetic, matter-of-fact tone, and he became a boogeyman for those wishing to censor the product.

I dont think the "boogeyman" comment is supportable. And this is about the strangest view of the testimony I've ever read. Even Gaines considered his testimony to be a disaster. There is also the matter of his "speed" problem. A quote from the man himself: "At the beginning, I felt I was really going to fix those bastards, but as time went on I could feel myself fading away...They were pelting me with questions and I couldn’t locate the answers.”

Its more accurate to say that he made a fool of himself in front of the committee and that his lack of defense for the industry helped Wertham no end.


  • In 1955, EC was effectively driven out of business by the backlash, and by the Comics Magazine Association of America, an industry group that Gaines himself had suggested, but soon lost control of to John Goldwater, publisher of the innocuous Archie teenage comics. See Comics Code.

EC was not driven out of business. It had distribution problems caused by the backlack which made the comics part of its business unprofitable. It was not the code or the CMAA that did him in, it was magazine distributors who often just returned the books rather than send them out.

He never "lost control" to Goldwater. Losing control implies he had control which he never did. He suggested that an industry group be formed, but that was it. "innocuous" is also POV.

  • Gaines converted Mad to a magazine in 1956 in order to retain the services of its talented editor Harvey Kurtzman, who'd received offers from elsewhere. The change enabled Mad to escape the strictures of the Comics Code. Kurtzman would leave Gaines' employ a year later anyway, but Gaines went on to a long and profitable career as a publisher of satire and enemy of bombast.

Gaines converted Mad to a magazine because it got around the distribution problems he was having with the comics and because it was the most successful thing EC was publishing. I dont remember reading anything about Kurtzman being the reason for the decision. The other thing not mentioned that Kurtzman left within a year because the "enemy of bombast" refused Kurtzman's request to share in what he had created.

  • Although Mad was sold for tax reasons in the early 1960s, Gaines remained as publisher until the day he died and served as a buffer between the magazine and its corporate interests. In turn, he largely stayed out of the magazine's production, often viewing content just before the issue was scheduled to be shipped to the printer. "My staff and contributors create the magazine," declared Gaines. "What I create is the atmosphere."

Mad was sold in the early 1960s for money reasons, not tax reasons. 12.96.162.45 23:26, 14 December 2006 (UTC)



When I met him in Provincetown, Mass. -- in the 1970s -- he said he was both publisher and founder. --Ed Poor

go tell that to this article & the one for the magazine instead of hanging around talk pages! ;-) (some of us don't remember the 1970s you know) -- Tarquin

Do we need three separte entries on EC, Entertaining Comics and an as yet unwritten articel on Educational Comics as they are all efectively the same thing? wouldn't it make more sense to merge the EC & Entertaining comics articles and remove the educational link? quercus robur 00:15 Dec 20, 2002 (UTC)

Done. Probably need to achieve some balance between this article and EC Comics, but later. They certainly educated and entertained me, E.C. Fan-Addict #22336, aka Ortolan88

From the article:

"...EC was effectively driven out of business by the Comics Code, an industry censorship body that he had suggested, but lost control of to John Goldwater. publisher of the innocuous Archie teenage comics."

Hey whoever wrote the above quote, when did Gaines ever suggest an industry censorship body? My understanding is that Gaines proposed that publishers band together to FIGHT censorship, or as Frank Jacobs says, p. 112 of 'The Mad World of William M. Gaines':

"A few weeks after the hearings, Gaines tried to rally his fellow publishers. The plan was to start a new comic association that would be an action group. It would work with educators and psychologists to find out if there really was a link between horror and crime and juvenile delinquency. It would employ a public relations staff to reclaim the public's shattered faith in comic books. Finally it would protect publishers against the spectre of censorship."

Gaines was no censor. --AC 3/8/03

Yeh. But he was a pill-head who made a fool of himself and the industry in front of the senate. After his performance, nobody was going to start an association with him running things. 12.96.162.45 23:26, 14 December 2006 (UTC)

Personal[edit]

There should be something about his marriage, he and his wife being some of the leading collectors of Statue of Liberty historic material, etc. AnonMoos 23:11, 13 July 2006 (UTC)


This is a great article. It would be great to see more information on the EC line.CoolRanch3 16:16, 23 September 2007 (UTC)

Deathbed tag:[edit]

On Gaines' deathbed,his wife honored his humor by giving Gaines a "Last Tag", which was one of Gaines' favorite strips from MAD Magazine, depicting a dying man tagging his friend from his deathbed, saying "Last Tag" just before dying. Gaines' wife with her tag fulfilled an inside joke and wish held between the two of them.

Any citation for this or is it a hoax? --Harizotoh9 (talk) 08:08, 19 March 2014 (UTC)