FRONTLINE COMBAT ANNUAL VOL. 1 (Gemstone, 1996; Softcover)
Collects Frontline Combat #1-5 (cover dates July/August, 1951- March/April, 1952)
Writer: Harvey Kurtzman with Jerry DeFucio (one story)
Artists: Harvey Kurtzman, Jack Davis, Russ Heath, Wally Wood, John Severin and Bill Elder
Widely considered to be an anti-war comic, the more that I think about it the more that I believe that it is merely a super realistic war comic. I once considered it to be an anti-war comic because it depicted war in an unfavorable manner. It doesn't glamorize war or paint soldiers as heroes, it paints them as men who are there because they have to be rather than because they want to be. Remember, this was a time when it was not a volunteer army. The stories take place in various wars (i.e. the Civil War, etc.) but the outcome remains the same.
EC's war titles differ from the rest of their comics because they are hand lettered rather than lettered with the Leroy lettering system. I much prefer the Leroy system, as it has a cleaner look to it. I have found this font for Open Office and have toyed with the idea of using it as the font for this blog. What say you, gentle readers?
This being EC, the writing and artwork are all top notch. I have said it before and I will say it again (and again...and again): EC made the best comic books of all time. They were light years ahead of their time and they still blow away anything on the stands today. I have little interest in war comics but EC made even those comics entertaining. I would love to see the Pre-Trend stuff collected someday. A few things were made available in black and white in the old EC Library box sets, but they need to be released in color...and I am not talking about the shitty color found in the current EC Archives. I mean the original color palette.
I have been spacing out these EC Annuals. I still have an entire short comic box of unread ones, so there will be reviews of EC Comics for years to come.
Junk Food For Thought rating: 4.5 out of 5.
The OCD zone- Gemstone overprinted their single issue reprints in the '90s with an eye toward selling their own back issues. They re-purposed this overstock by trimming and gluing 5 entire issues into a cardstock cover. While this is not technically a trade paperback (it has no ISBN), it is squarebound and has the title on the spine. Close enough for Rock and Roll in my book.
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.
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.
Cardstock cover notes: Thick cardboard with minimal coating. There are signs of wear after years but all in all very solid.