SHOCK SUSPENSTORIES ANNUAL VOL. 2 (Gemstone, 1994; Softcover)
Collects Shock SuspenStories #6-10 (cover dates February/March, 1952- December, 1952/ January, 1953)
Writers: Bill Gaines (co-plotter), Al Feldstein (co-plotter and script), and Ray Bradbury
Artists: Al Feldstein, Jack Kamen, Jack Davis, Joe Orlando, Graham Ingels, and Wally Wood
Shock SuspenStories was an EC sampler series, giving readers an idea of what the entire EC line was doing. Each issue has a Crime SuspenStory, a Shock SuspenStory, a Science-Fiction SuspenStory, and a Horror SuspenStory.
Issue 6's Under Cover! is a subversive tale about the Ku Klux Klan in all but name, pointing out how its membership were really well-respected members of the community. Sugar 'N Spice 'N... has one of those grand EC twist-ending Horror stories, borrowing from one of the greatest fables of all time.
#7 starts out with Beauty And The Beach!, a Jack Kamen eye candy feast. Kamen has a knack for drawing beautiful people doing horrible things to one another. Every story in #7 and 8 are winners. #9's Came The Dawn! is one of my all-time favorite EC stories. I don't go into great details with the whys of these tales because it would be like telling you the punchline to a joke. You need to read these comic books for yourself.
The Sacrifice kicks off issue 10, and it is a sordid tale of murder, love triangles, and double-crosses. Jack Kamen once again delivers a flawless portrayal of the ugliness of the human condition wrapped up in a pretty package.
While it is extremely difficult for me to name a favorite EC title, SS is certainly near the top of the pile. These comics hold up very well with repeated readings, and it is crazy to think that these were originally published 65 years ago.
Junk Food For Thought rating: 5 out of 5.
The OCD zone- This is the part where I go into tactile sensations and materials of physical media. Those with heart conditions, high blood pressure, or women who are pregnant should exit my blog at their earliest convenience, as their safety cannot be guaranteed beyond this point.
Gemstone overprinted their single issue reprints in the '90s with an eye toward selling their own back issues. They later repurposed this overstock by trimming and gluing 5 entire issues into a cardstock cover. While this is not technically a trade paperback since it has no ISBN, it is squarebound and has the title on the spine. Close enough for Rock and Roll in my book. The EC Annuals are the most economical and efficient way of getting your EC collection while offering the most authentic reading experience this side of the original comics.
Linework and Color restoration: Shot from the original artwork with a color palette authentic to the original publication. If you want to see EC Comics in full color then this is the best way to do so, as these look superior to the originals in print quality. The only drawback is that the covers to each issue are recolored. Marie Severin redid them for the EC Library sets and those same versions are used here.
Paper stock: Standard pulp paper of the day. The pro is that this looks and feels like a real comic book. The con, and it is a very large one, is that this will age and yellow, just like real comic book paper. I am admittedly less and less worried about this sort of thing as time goes by, as I will likely be dead and gone before this book deteriorates too badly.
Binding: Perfect bound trade paperback. I am impressed by the quality of the glue used in these Annuals, as many Marvel trades of this vintage have fallen apart.
Cardstock cover notes: Thick cardboard with minimal coating. There are signs of wear after years but all in all very solid.