Weird Science (comics)
Al Feldstein cover, issue #13 (1950)
|Publication date||May/June 1950 - November/December 1953|
|Number of issues||22|
Weird Science was a science fiction anthology comic book that was part of the EC Comics line in the early 1950s. Over a four-year span, the comic ran for 22 issues, ending with the November–December, 1953 issue. Weird Fantasy was a sister title published during the same time frame.
Published by Bill Gaines and edited by Al Feldstein, the bi-monthly Weird Science replaced Saddle Romances with the May/June 1950 issue. Although the title and format change took effect with issue 12, Gaines and Feldstein decided not to restart the numbering in order to save money on second class postage. The Post Office took note and, starting with issue #5, all the issues were numbered correctly. Because of this, "Weird Science #12" could refer to either the May/June 1950 issue, or the actual 12th issue published in 1952. The same confusion exists for issues #13-15, #15 being the last issue published before EC reset the numbering.
Artist/Writer Harry Harrison claims credit for originally giving Gaines the notion of publishing science fiction. Harrison has stated that he and artist Wally Wood were interested in science fiction and gave Gaines science fiction stories to read. Harrison, however, had no editorial control over the contents of the comic aside from his own stories and left EC by the end of 1950.
Artists and writers
Early cover illustrations were by Feldstein. Wood, the title's leading artist, took over as the regular cover illustrator in 1952. For a period of time in 1952, Wood drew two stories per issue. The other Weird Science interior artists were Feldstein, Frank Frazetta, Al Williamson, Joe Orlando, George Evans, Harvey Kurtzman, George Roussos, Harrison, Will Elder, Jack Kamen, Sid Check and Jack Olesen. Writers in the early issues included Feldstein, Gaines, Kurtzman, Harrison and Gardner Fox. Gaines and Feldstein wrote nearly all stories from 1951 to 1953.
Stories and themes
As with other EC Comics, Gaines and Feldstein used some Weird Science stories to teach moral lessons. "The Probers" (#8) features a space shuttle doctor who pays no mind to dissecting various animals, only to end up on an alien planet where aliens plan to dissect him. In "The Worm Turns" (#11) astronauts have fun with Mexican jumping beans but face a similar situation when they hide in a piece of fruit on an alien world and are found by a giant alien. "He Walked Among Us" (#13) was a take on organized religion in which a Christ-like astronaut helps the impoverished populace of an alien world but is killed by those in power, prompting the birth of a religion.
Gaines and Feldstein made cameo appearances in "Chewed Out" (#12), and other EC staffers were drawn into "EC Confidential" (#21).
Influences and adaptations
As with the other EC comics edited by Feldstein, the stories in this comic were primarily based on Gaines reading a large number of science fiction stories and using them to develop "springboards" from which he and Feldstein could launch new stories. Specific story influences that have been identified include the following:
- "Lost in the Microcosm" (issue 12 ) - Henry Hasse's "He Who Shrank"
- "The Micro Race" (issue 13 ) - Theodore Sturgeon's "Microcosmic God"
- "The Sounds from Another World" (issue 14 ) - Roald Dahl's "The Sound Machine"
- "Machine from Nowhere" (issue 14 ) - Maurice Hugi's "Mechanical Mouse"
- "Divide and Conquer" (issue 6) - Donald Wandrei's "A Scientist Divides"
- "Monster From the Fourth Dimension" (issue 7) - Donald Wandrei's "The Monster From Nowhere"
- "The Martian Monster" (issue 9) - Anthony Boucher's "Mr. Lupescu"
- "Why Papa Left Home" (issue 11) - Charles Harness's "Child by Chronos"
- "Chewed Out!" (issue 12) - Katherine MacLean's "Pictures Don't Lie!"
- "Say Your Prayers" (issue 13) - Anthony Boucher's "Expedition"
- "The Island Monster" (issue 17) - Merian C. Cooper and Ernest B. Schoedsack's King Kong
- "Keyed Up!" (issue 19) - Duncan Munro's "U-Turn"
After their unauthorized adaptation of one of Ray Bradbury's stories in another magazine, Bradbury contacted EC about their plagiarism of his work. They reached an agreement for EC to do authorized versions of Bradbury's short fiction. These official adaptations include:
- "The Long Years" (issue 17)
- "Mars is Heaven!" (issue 18)
- "The One Who Waits" (issue 19)
- "Surprise Package" (issue 20)
- "Punishment Without Crime" (issue 21)
- "Outcast of the Stars" (issue 22)
EC's science fiction comics were never able to match the popularity of their horror comics like Tales from the Crypt, but Gaines and Feldstein kept them alive using the profits from their more popular titles. In the EC Library reprints, comics historian Mark Evanier theorizes that the short story format, where no story was longer than eight pages helped contribute to poor sales because the horror comics were much better suited for very short stories with shock endings than the science fiction comics. Evanier also ponders whether the very similar logo style of Weird Science and its companion comic Weird Fantasy as well as similar cover subjects contributed to lower sales due to customers thinking they already owned the issues on sale. Historian Digby Diehl wondered whether having host characters like EC's horror comics would have helped the comics be more commercially successful.
When the poor sales became too much to handle, Weird Science combined with companion comic Weird Fantasy in 1954 to become Weird Science-Fantasy. As discussed in an "In Memoriam" feature in the final issue, it was stated that every issue for the previous year and a half lost money and they had no choice but to combine the two comics into one. Weird Science-Fantasy ran for seven issues before a title change to Incredible Science Fiction for four issues.
As with many other EC titles, Weird Science has been reprinted numerous times over the years. Ballantine Books reprinted selected stories in a series of paperback EC anthologies in 1964-66. All 22 issues were published in black and white in four hardbound volumes in 1980 as part of publisher Russ Cochran's The Complete EC Library. This set was published in two versions, the original, with what Cochran later said were his own incomplete and occasionally erroneous analyses, and a revised version containing analysis from outside contributors. In addition, all 22 issues were reprinted in comic form in the mid-1990s by Cochran and Gemstone Publishing. This complete run was later rebound, with covers included, in a series of five softcover EC Annuals. In 2007, Cochran and Gemstone began to publish hardcover, re-colored volumes of Weird Science as part of the EC Archives series. Three volumes (of a projected four) were published before Gemstone's financial troubles left the project in limbo. But the project may soon be revived under a new publisher. GC Press LLC, a boutique imprint established by Russ Cochran and Grant Geissman, announced in a press release dated September 1, 2011 that it is continuing the EC Archives series, with the first new releases scheduled for November 2011.
Weird Science was a 1985 movie produced by Joel Silver, who acquired film rights to EC Comics in the early 1980s. The plot of the 1985 Weird Science film is an expansion and modernization of the basic premise in Al Feldstein's story "Made of the Future" in the fifth issue.
HBO's Perversions of Science is a science fiction/horror television series based on Weird Science stories. It has been suggested on The Simpsons season 3 DVD commentary for the episode "Treehouse of Horror II" that the appearance of Kang and Kodos was based on cover art from EC Comics. No specific issue number is mentioned, but it may be a combination of different covers including possibly Weird Science #6 and #16. 
|#||Date||Cover Artist||Story||Story Artist|
|12(1)||May/June 1950||Al Feldstein||Lost in the Microcosm||Harvey Kurtzman|
|Dream of Doom||Wally Wood & Harry Harrison|
|Experiment... In Death||Jack Kamen|
|"Things" From Outer Space!||Al Feldstein|
|13(2)||July/Aug 1950||Al Feldstein||The Flying Saucer Invasion||Al Feldstein|
|The Meteor Monster||Wally Wood & Harry Harrison|
|The Micro-Race!||Jack Kamen|
|...The Man Who Raced Time||Harvey Kurtzman|
|14(3)||Sept/Oct 1950||Al Feldstein||Destruction of the Earth!||Al Feldstein|
|The Sounds from Another World!||Harvey Kurtzman|
|Machine from Nowhere||Harry Harrison|
|The Eternal Man||Jack Kamen|
|15(4)||Nov/Dec 1950||Al Feldstein||Panic!||Al Feldstein|
|The Radioactive Child!||Harvey Kurtzman|
|House, in Time!||Graham Ingels|
|5||Jan/Feb 1951||Al Feldstein||Made of the Future!||Al Feldstein|
|The Last War on Earth||Harvey Kurtzman|
|Killed in Time!||Jack Kamen|
|6||March/April 1951||Al Feldstein||Spawn of Venus||Al Feldstein|
|Man and Superman!||Harvey Kurtzman|
|Sinking of the Titanic!||Wally Wood|
|Divide and Conquer||Jack Kamen|
|7||May/June 1951||Al Feldstein||Monster from the Fourth Dimension||Al Feldstein|
|Something Missing!||Jack Kamen|
|...Gregory Had a Model-T!||Harvey Kurtzman|
|The Aliens!||Wally Wood|
|8||July/Aug 1951||Al Feldstein||Seeds of Jupiter!||Al Feldstein|
|The Escape||George Roussos|
|Beyond Repair||Jack Kamen|
|The Probers||Wally Wood|
|9||Sept/Oct 1951||Wally Wood||The Gray Cloud of Death!||Wally Wood|
|The Martian Monster||Jack Kamen|
|The Invaders||Wally Wood|
|The Slave of Evil!||Jack Oleson|
|10||Nov/Dec 1951||Wally Wood||The Maidens Cried||Wally Wood|
|Reducing... Costs||Jack Kamen|
|Transformation Completed||Wally Wood|
|The Planetoid!||Joe Orlando|
|11||Jan/Feb 1952||Al Feldstein||The Conquerors of the Moon!||Wally Wood|
|Only Human!||Jack Kamen|
|Why Papa Left Home||Joe Orlando|
|The Worm Turns||Joe Orlando|
|12||March/April 1952||Wally Wood||A Gobl is a Knog's Best Friend||Wally Wood|
|The Last Man!||Jack Kamen|
|The Android!||Wally Wood|
|Chewed Out!||Joe Orlando|
|13||May/June 1952||Wally Wood||A Weighty Decision||Wally Wood|
|Saving for the Future||Jack Kamen|
|He Walked Among Us||Wally Wood|
|Say Your Prayers||Joe Orlando|
|14||July/Aug 1952||Wally Wood||There'll Be Some Changes Made!||Wally Wood|
|Inside Story!||Bill Elder|
|They Shall Inherit||Joe Orlando|
|15||Sept/Oct 1952||Wally Wood||The Martians!||Wally Wood|
|Bum Steer!||Joe Orlando|
|16||Nov/Dec 1952||Wally Wood||Down to Earth||Wally Wood|
|Given the Heir!||Jack Kamen|
|The People's Choice!||Joe Orlando|
|17||Jan/Feb 1953||Wally Wood||Plucked!||Wally Wood|
|The Island Monster||Al Williamson|
|Off Day!||Jack Kamen|
|The Long Years!||Joe Orlando|
|18||March/April 1953||Wally Wood||Mars Is Heaven!||Wally Wood|
|Snap Ending!||Al Williamson|
|The Parallel!||Jack Kamen|
|19||May/June 1953||Wally Wood||The Precious Years||Wally Wood|
|The One Who Waits||Al Williamson|
|Right on the Button!||Bill Elder|
|Keyed Up!||Joe Orlando|
|20||July/Aug 1953||Wally Wood||The Loathsome!||Wally Wood|
|Surprise Package||Jack Kamen|
|The Reformers||Joe Orlando|
|50 Girls 50||Al Williamson|
|21||Sept/Oct 1953||Wally Wood||EC Confidential!||Wally Wood|
|Punishment Without Crime||Jack Kamen|
|Two's Company...||Al Williamson & Frank Frazetta|
|The Ugly One||Joe Orlando|
|22||Nov/Dec 1953||Wally Wood||A New Beginning||Al Williamson|
|The Headhunters||George Evans|
|My World||Wally Wood|
|Outcast of the Stars||Joe Orlando|
- The Complete EC Library: Weird Science Volume 1. Russ Cochran. 1980.
- Giessman, Grant Foul Play (Harper Collins, New York, NY, 2005) p. 124
- Von Bernewitz, Fred and Geissman, Grant Tales of Terror: The EC Companion (Gemstone Publishing and Fantagraphics Books, Timonium, MD & Seattle, WA, 2000) p. 130-5
- The Complete EC Library: Weird Science Volume 2. Russ Cochran. 1980.
- The Complete EC Library: Weird Science Volume 3. Russ Cochran. 1980.
- "Von Bernewitz 2000 p. 226"
- The Complete EC Library: Weird Science Volume 4. Russ Cochran. 1981.
- The Complete EC Library: Weird Science Volume 3. Russ Cochran. 1981.
- Diehl, Digby Tales from the Crypt: The Official Archives (St. Martin's Press, New York, NY, 1996) p. 34
- Michael Kronenberg posting at MarvelMasterworksFansite.Yuku.com, September 1, 2011. Accessed September 2, 2011