Thursday, January 15, 2015

Review- SHOCK SUSPENSTORIES ANNUAL VOL. 1


SHOCK SUSPENSTORIES ANNUAL VOL. 1 (Gemstone, 1994; Softcover)

Collects Shock SuspenStories #1-5 (cover dates February/March- October/November, 1952)
Writers: Al Feldstein, Bill Gaines,
Artists: Jack Kamen, Jack Davis, Joe Orlando, Graham Ingels, and Wally Wood

What more can be said about comics so great that it should go without saying are the best? Howsabout that it bears repeating how great they are. If you have never read EC Comics, stop what you are doing, including reading this blog, go and get yourself an EC book and get yourself some culture, rubes!

Envisioned as an EC sampler, this title contains one crime story, one science fiction story, one horror story, and one war story (well for the first issue anyhow) per issue. They are all designed for maximum impact, pulling no punches whatsoever. EC did what have been called “preachies”, ever-so-thinly-veiled morality plays that show things such as police brutality, racism, and animal rights. Some of these topics are as timely as ever, showing how timeless these comics truly are.

Just Desserts! from #3 is my absolute favorite in the book, completely over the top yet supremely sophisticated Horror, just as I like it. These are all incredible stories, and the heaping helping of Jack Kamen artwork doesn't hurt. All of the EC artists were the best of the best, art for the sake of art. These guys were all worlds better then necessary, considering that comic books were a disposable item at the time. Kamen, Ingels, Wood, and company all tried to one up and impress each other. Compare this to any other comic from 1952. While there were tons of talented artists in comics at the time, none of them were this good, let alone so many assembled under one roof.


Drop your lame editorially mandated crossovers and variant covers and buy some EC Comics.
Junk Food For Thought rating: 5 out of 5.

The OCD zone- The first few EC Annuals (like this one) are basically big fat floppies, with thick paper covers. They soon switched to cardstock covers, becoming trade paperbacks.
Linework restoration: Shot from the original artwork with a color palette authentic to the original publication. My only gripe is that blacks look weak, much like they did on nearly every comic book back when publishers switched from oil-based inks to water-based inks. It took some time for them to figure out how to make it work.
Paper stock: Thin pulpish paper which is browning after twenty years.
Binding: Perfect bound.
Cardstock cover notes: These early Annuals have thick paper covers and are not technically trade paperbacks or graphic novels.

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