WEIRD FANTASY: THE EC ARCHIVES VOL. 1 (Dark Horse, 2014; Hardcover)
Collects Weird Science #13-17, 6 (cover dates May/June, 1950- March/ April, 1951)
Writers: Bill Gaines, Al Feldstein, Harry Harrison, Gardner Fox, and Harvey Kurtzman
Artists: Al Feldstein, Harry Harrison, Wally Wood, Jack Kamen, and Harvey Kurtzman
Science Fiction meets Cold War paranoia. Predating The Twilight Zone while feasting on the remains of the pulps, Weird Fantasy was one of the early 'New Trend' titles. The early New Trend titles were heavy on the Feldstein, with plenty of his artwork. Later on he did more writing and editing and less artwork. He writes complete stories which happen to have pictures, meaning that they are text heavy. So many modern writers could not write this way. They prefer to “let the pictures do the heavy lifting”, which is a nice way of saying that they are lazy and can't write a coherent story.
Al Feldstein passed away this year. I met him at the Motor City Comic Con several years ago. He had no line and so I strolled on up and started chatting with him, professing my love for his work and for EC Comics as a whole. I told him how much I enjoyed The EC Archives and he interrupted me, barking I don't make any money off of those. Buy a print!, motioning to his recreations of classic EC covers.
Harvey Kurtzman's stories deviated from standard EC fare in two regards: First, it was dialogue driven and largely third party narrative free. Second, they were hand lettered, rather than done using a Leroy lettering stencil set found in all other EC stories. The Leroy set gave EC Comics a distinctive, clean look to them which has helped them age well.
While I am not a fan of using modern computer coloring on these classics there are spots where it is tastefully done. By the time that you read this I will have already dumped this and the rest of my EC Archives on eBay. The EC Annuals are the way to go as far as I am concerned, as they boast the original four color palette which makes my purist OCD happy. Most folks love these Archives. Others hunt down the old black and white slipcase EC Library sets, while others love the artist-centric Fantagraphics collections being pumped out at an alarming rate. There is no right or wrong in the world of EC. It all boils down to your preference, comfort zone, and how much discretionary income you have to devote to the various format or formats of your choice.
Junk Food For Thought rating: 5 out of 5.
The OCD zone- I can't wait for the day when someone, anyone, produces EC Comics Archives in full color with the original color palette, including the original cover color palette.
DVD-style Extras included in this book: Introduction. (2 pages)
Foreword by Walt Simonson. (1 page)
Linework and Color: The linework is superb, taken from photostats and original artwork. The color is the killer for me. While based on Marie Severin's original colors, there are too many liberties taken with it in terms of gradient shades and other Photoshop effects for my taste. Your mileage may vary.
Paper stock: Thick coated stock with minimal sheen.
Binding: Smyth sewn binding with eight stitches per signature.
Hardback cover notes: This is the best of both worlds- a dustjacket with the same image on the paper of the casewrap. Top it off with a super thick lamination on the casewrap and you have the cherry on the top of this sundae.