EC Archives

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Example of EC Archives' digital coloring by Jamison Services on a Johnny Craig page: "Terror on the Moors!" in EC Archives: The Vault of Horror (2007), originally in The Vault of Horror 17 (February–March 1951).

The EC Archives are an ongoing series of American hardcover collections of full-color comic book reprints of EC Comics, published by Russ Cochran and Gemstone Publishing from 2006 to 2008, and then continued by Cochran and Grant Geissman's GC imprint (2011-2012), and finally taken over by Dark Horse in 2013.

The output of Bill Gaines' EC Comics line in the 1940s and 1950s is one of the most critically acclaimed of the pre-Comics Code comics publishers (and one of the major casualties of the Comics Code). Such EC Comics titles as Tales from the Crypt, The Vault of Horror and Weird Science are known even to people unfamiliar with the source material, due to film-TV adaptations.

Numerous reprints throughout the decades have also kept EC alive on book store shelves, starting with Nostalgia Press's EC Horror Comics Of The 1950's tome (1971), followed by publisher Cochran's six EC Portfolios (1971-1977), but primarily because of his Complete EC Library, printing all of the 'New Trend' comic titles (although missing the unique the stories from the three 3-D EC Classics issues), as well as all of the 'New Direction' and 'Picto-Fiction' titles, and some of the 'Pre-Trend' title issues, in a series of 18 b&w boxed-sets (19 if you include the fact that the Mad set was done as both color and b&w editions) containing a total of sixty-six hardcover books, all shot directly from the original art, mostly published from 1979 to 1996, with the Picto-Fiction box being delayed until 2006. Between 1992 and 2000, Cochran and Gemstone Publishing also produced 295 different full-color individual issue reproductions of all the "New Trend' (except Mad) and 'New Direction' EC Comics, and subsequently sixty-three "EC Annuals" which glued together titled chronological overstock copies of those individual issues in a new outer wrapper, in a nod to the original unsold-stock content of the EC Annuals of the 50s, although back in the fifties there was no specification as to what issues may have been contained inside the covers to those various annuals, which could vary from copy to copy.

Digital recoloring[edit]

In 2006, Gemstone began producing a more durable series of hardback reprint collections designed by Michael Kronenberg. Similar to the DC Archives and Marvel Masterworks series, the EC Archives superseded Cochran's original annotated EC Library (of black-and-white stories) by reprinting sequential compilations of EC titles in a full-color, hardback archival format with new annotations. On January 11, 2011, Cochran looked back on the project, noting the differences between his earlier EC Library and the later EC Archives:

A few years ago, with the support and encouragement of Steve Geppi and with the permission of the Gaines Estate, I started on a new format: the EC Archives. These are slightly smaller hardcover books (smaller than the EC Library volumes but larger than the original ten-cent comic books), and because of increased demand and the availability of cheaper color printing in China, the EC Archives books were full color, with new color in an infinite palette now being possible with the advances in technology.[1]

Each book reprints six issues for a total of 24 stories. The original coloring by EC's colorist Marie Severin was used as a guide for digital recoloring by Jamison Services, a color separation company in West Plains, Missouri, the hometown of publisher Cochran. Allen Jamison and Jamison Services had previously done coloring for the DC Archives.[2] Also contributing to the project at Cochran's West Plains office were operations manager Angela Meyer and production artist Chris Rock.[3] Crediting Kronenberg as "Art Director/Designer and Color Editor" and Marie Severin for "Colors", Cochran explained the digital upgrade given to Severin's coloring; "Most of the original coloring of these stories is the work of EC colorist Marie Severin, and although all of these stories have been re-colored for this new edition, her style of coloring was followed to retain the integrity of the original EC comic books".[4] He later added:

Technology changes. We are now able to color these comics with an infinite palette, and to reproduce the artists' linework much more clearly. If these new computer generated color techniques had been available in the 1950s, I think Bill Gaines would have used it because it makes the EC work even more beautiful. So the EC material has been printed three different ways: with the old color, as originally published back in the 1950s, without any color, as it was drawn by the EC artists (the EC Library), and with the best color we can do with modern technology (the EC Archives). It has been my experience that the most dedicated EC fans are not satisfied to have them reprinted only one, or two, ways. They want them all. Those fans will have the old comics in the EC Annuals, the black and white art in the EC Library, and the best color we can produce in the EC Archives. There's room there for everyone.[5]

Along with the original EC advertisements, editorials and letters pages, the books also feature introductions by John Carpenter, Joe Dante, Paul Levitz, George Lucas, Steven Spielberg, R. L. Stine, Jerry Weist and others. The entirety of the New Trend and New Direction comics were planned for eventual release. Kronenberg suggested EC's Pre-Trend titles might also be reprinted in Archive form. However, EC's black-and-white Picto-Fiction magazines are unlikely to be reprinted as EC Archives.[6][7]

The EC Archives publishing history has been a troubled one. The original run was interrupted after thirteen volumes, due to financial difficulties at Gemstone Publishing, in 2008. The line was revived for two more volumes by GC Press LLC, a boutique imprint established by Russ Cochran and Grant Geissman, in 2011 (both volumes carry 2011 copyrights, the year of their printing, though due to the vagaries of distribution, they were not released until January 2012). Most recently the line has been taken up by Dark Horse Comics, who announced plans to resume it with the release of Tales from the Crypt Volume 4 in October 2013.[8]

EC Archives schedule[edit]

Issue Numbering[edit]

In the early 1950s, comic book publishers, seeking to save money on second-class postage permits, frequently changed the titles of their comics, rather than start new ones at #1. Because of this, many comics featured in The EC Archives series do not start with #1. War Against Crime was replaced by The Vault of Horror and so numbering for The Vault of Horror begins with issue #12. Similarly, Crime Patrol was replaced with The Crypt of Terror for issue #17. By issue #20, the title changed again to the familiar Tales from the Crypt. The Crypt of Terror is not considered a separate series and is included in Tales from the Crypt: Volume One.

The Haunt of Fear, Weird Science, and Weird Fantasy began with issues #15, #12 and #13, respectively, but at the request of the Post Office, their issue numbering was reset a few issues later, beginning with The Haunt of Fear #4, Weird Science #5, and Weird Fantasy #6. Because of this, there are several comics within those series that share the same issue number. For example, The Haunt of Fear #15 was published in 1950 and was the first issue in the series, while a second comic, also titled The Haunt of Fear #15, was published in 1952 and was the fifteenth comic in the series.

Following The Haunt of Fear's issue numbering being reset, its previous numbering was instead used for a new title, Two-Fisted Tales. Thus, Two-Fisted Tales begins with issue #18.

The table below uses the original numbering.

EC Archives Books[edit]

Title Volume Reprints Introduction First printing Pages ISBN
Crime SuspenStories
1
Crime SuspenStories #1 - 6 Max Allan Collins January 2008
Gemstone
212 978-1-888472-74-5
Frontline Combat
1
Frontline Combat #1 - 6 John Benson October 2008
Gemstone
212 978-1-60360-014-9
The Haunt of Fear
1
The Haunt of Fear #15 - 17
The Haunt of Fear #4 - 6
(with notes by Grant Geissman)
Robert Englund January 2012
GC Press
212 978-1-60360-015-6
2
The Haunt of Fear #7 - 12 Tim Sullivan October 2015
Dark Horse
216 978-1-61655-773-7
Shock SuspenStories
1
Shock SuspenStories #1 - 6
(with notes by Russ Cochran)
Steven Spielberg December 2006
Gemstone
212 978-1-888472-57-8
2
Shock SuspenStories #7 - 12 Dean Kamen June 2007
Gemstone
212 978-1-888472-70-7
3
Shock SuspenStories #13 - 18 Brian Michael Bendis May 2015
Dark Horse
216 978-1-61655-635-8
Tales from the Crypt
1
The Crypt of Terror #17 - 19
Tales from the Crypt #20 - 22
John Carpenter February 2007
Gemstone
212 978-1-888472-55-4
2
Tales from the Crypt #23 - 28 Joe Dante July 2007
Gemstone
212 978-1-888472-71-4
3
Tales from the Crypt #29 - 34 Robert Overstreet September 2008
Gemstone
212 978-1-60360-011-8
4
Tales from the Crypt #35 - 40 Russ Cochran October 2013
Dark Horse
212 978-1-60360-104-7
5
Tales from the Crypt #41 - 46 Bruce Campbell October 2014
Dark Horse
216 978-1-61655-486-6
Two-Fisted Tales
1
Two-Fisted Tales #18 - 23 Steve Geppi March 2007
Gemstone
212 978-1-888472-56-1
2
Two-Fisted Tales #24 - 29 Professor Rocco Versaci August 2007
Gemstone
212 978-1-888472-72-1
3
Two-Fisted Tales #30 - 35 Joe Kubert July 2014
Dark Horse
216 978-1-60360-017-0
The Vault of Horror
1
The Vault of Horror #12 - 17
(with notes by Roger Hill)
R. L. Stine October 2007
Gemstone
212 978-1-888472-73-8
2
The Vault of Horror #18 - 23
(with notes by Bhob Stewart)
John Landis January 2012
GC Press
212 978-1-60360-103-0
3
The Vault of Horror #24 - 29 Mike Richardson February 2014
Dark Horse
216 978-1-61655-292-3
4
The Vault of Horror #30 - 35 Jonathan Maberry January 2015
Dark Horse
216 978-1-61655-519-1
Weird Science
1
Weird Science #12 - 15
Weird Science #5 - 6
George Lucas December 2006
Gemstone
212 978-1-888472-58-5
2
Weird Science #7 - 12 Paul Levitz May 2007
Gemstone
212 978-1-888472-69-1
3
Weird Science #13 - 18 Jerry Weist / Ray Bradbury August 2008
Gemstone [9]
212 978-1-60360-010-1
4
Weird Science #19 - 22
Weird Science-Fantasy #23 - 24
Harlan Ellison July 2015
Dark Horse
216 978-1-61655-658-7
Weird Fantasy
1
Weird Fantasy #13 - 17
Weird Fantasy #6
Walt Simonson April 2014
Dark Horse
216 978-1-61655-293-0

Chronological release of EC Archives[edit]

Leather-bound signed and numbered boxed editions[edit]

  • The EC Archives: Weird Science Volume 1 (February 2008) signed by Al Feldstein, edition of 300
  • The EC Archives: Weird Science Volume 2 (August 2008) signed by Al Williamson, edition of 300
  • The EC Archives: Shock SuspenStories Volume 1 (October 2009) signed by Al Feldstein, edition of 300
  • The EC Archives: Shock SuspenStories Volume 2 (October 2009) signed by Jack Kamen, edition of 300


These four limited editions each came packaged inside a custom clamshell box. with a pair of white gloves for handling of the expensive volumes.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Russ Cochran Newsletter 19, January 15, 2011.
  2. ^ Comic Book Database: Allen Jamison
  3. ^ Gemstone Corporate History
  4. ^ EC Archives, 2007.
  5. ^ Digital Comic Museum
  6. ^ Michael Kronenberg posting at MarvelMasterworksFansite.Yuku.com, July 26, 2008. Accessed September 1, 2008
  7. ^ Michael Kronenberg posting at MarvelMasterworksFansite.Yuku.com, July 26, 2008. Accessed September 1, 2008
  8. ^ Dark Horse to Publish EC Library. Accessed July 28, 2013.
  9. ^ A printing defect saw most copies withheld by the publisher for an erroneously missing cover illustration to be inserted.

External links[edit]