PIRACY ANNUAL VOL. 1 (Gemstone, 1998; Softcover)
Collects Piracy #1-4 (cover dates November, 1954- May, 1955)
Writers: Carl Wessler and other, unidentified writers
Artists: Wally Wood, Reed Crandall, Al Williamson, Angelo Torres, Jack Davis, Bernie Krigstein, George Evans, and Graham Ingels
Piracy is either a latter day New Trend title or a precursor to the New Direction titles, depending on who you ask. I tend to lump it in with the New Direction titles, the ones where EC was attempting different things to distance themselves from their Horror output which was under fire at the time. As was the case with those titles, the writing and artwork are head and shoulders above the output of anything else on the stands at the time, even if the material in this title wasn't as strong as the New Trend stuff.
This comic book does exactly what is says on the tin: “Sagas of the sea, ships, plunder and...Piracy”. These are stories of high adventure and ruthless men whose greed and ambition show us the worst traits of mankind. Some of the stories are historical accounts while others are loosely based on historical events, using them a launchpad for the story. Man's inhumanity toward his fellow man is on full display here.
Artwork wise, this book boasts some of George Evans and Graham Ingels' finest artwork. Having said that, many fans tend to dismiss the New Direction stuff. I have never heard any EC fan claim that Piracy is their favorite title. It is merely a footnote in the history of EC Comics. EC remain the gold standard for comic books in my mind.
Junk Food For Thought rating: 4 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 terms of 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. Sorry fans in the year 2068.
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.