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EC Comics

Above: a classic Jack Davis cover for 'Tales From The Crypt'

Entertaining Comics, was headed by William Gaines but is better known by its publishing name of EC Comics. The firm was a publisher of comic books specializing in crime, horror, war, and science-fiction comics from the 1940s through the 1950s. It also published MAD and other satire comics which evolved into MAD Magazine.

The firm, first known as Educational Comics, was owned by Max Gaines, who published Picture Stories from the Bible and biographies of important figures from science and history in comic book form.

When Max died in 1947 in a boating accident, his son, William Gaines inherited the business. He had no previous interest in publishing, being a student studying to become a science teacher at SUNY. After a time, he began to enjoy publishing, but only after turning the company into a more successful publisher. He did this by focusing on horror, suspense, science fiction, war, and humor comics. With this new content, the company needed a name change, and so it became Entertaining Comics.

The firm had success with its many titles, and pioneered in forming relationships with its readers through its letters to the editor and its fan organization, the National E.C. Fan-Addict Club.

After the comic book industry imploded during the 1950s in the wake of the hysteria caused by Dr. Frederick Wertham's book Seduction of the Innocent (and, just as important, a shakeup in the distribution companies who sold comic books and pulp magazines in America), most of EC Comics' titles were cancelled. Gaines attempted to revive a few of the science fiction based EC comics, watering down the story lines and artwork in order to conform to the newly founded Comics Code. However this was unsuccessful, and instead the company shifted it's focus to publishing the comedy and satire magazines.

Gaines waged a number of battles with the Code Authority, in an attempt to keep his magazines free of censorship during the later days of EC. One notable incident involved his threatening the members of the Code Authority board with a lawsuit after being ordered to alter the climactic scene of a science fiction story, so that one of the characters would not be seen sweating. When EC found a large audience of young readers embracing its humor magazine Tales Calculated to Drive You MAD, the company abandoned its other titles and focused exclusively on publishing MAD magazine for the next four decades.

Above: cover of 'Impact' comics reprint of EC title
'Shock SuspenStories', featuring classic artwork by Wallace Wood

Entertaining Comics New Trend and New Direction titles included;


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