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Foul Play: The Art and Artists of the 1950's E.C.Comics Paperback – 7 Apr 2005

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Product details

  • Paperback: 272 pages
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Design International; 1 edition (7 April 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 006074698X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0060746988
  • Product Dimensions: 28 x 21.7 x 1.7 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,463,137 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description


In the opinion of many dyed-in-the-wool comic book fans, the greatest comic books ever are those published in the 1950s by E.C. Comics under the auspices of publisher Bill Gaines. Inheriting the company after his father's sudden death, Bill Gaines changed the company focus from knocking-off other publishers, successes with western or romance comics to new genres of horror and science-fiction. Quickly, E.C. Comics titles such as Tales from the Crypt, The Vault of Horror, Weird Science and The Haunt of Fear became their best sellers, embraced by readers for their macabre wit and stunning illustration. Eventually, E.C. Comics ran afoul of a full Senate Subcommittee investigating (but never proving) the link between comic books and juvenile delinquency, but not before winning a legion of fans that still treasure E.C.'s output. FOUL PLAY celebrates these fan-favourite creators, profiling the artists of E.C. Comics - a veritable who's who of mid-20th century popular illustration, including how they came to work with Bill Gaines and how their careers evolved after E.C..

Among the comics art legends profiled are Al Feldstien, Harvey Kurtzman, Johnny Craig, Jack Davis, Graham Ingels, Jack Kamen, Wallace Wood, Joe Orlando, Will Elder, John Severin, George Evans, All Williamson, Reed Crandall, Bernie Krigstein and more! FOUL PLAY also reprints key E.C. stories featuring these works - a great opportunity to enjoy these classic works at a fraction of the price you'd pay tracking down the original comic books on the collector's market. E.C. Comics' influence on American graphic novels is undeniable, even today. For everyone wanting to understand the special place E.C. holds in the comic book fan's heart or who just want to read good comics, FOUL PLAY is the perfect book.

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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Riley0091 on 23 Dec 2006
Format: Paperback
The 1950s were a wild and exciting time for horror comic book enthusiasts.

The lack of the comic code authority ensured readers a gruesome plot packed with lots of sadistic action. Weather it was Dick Briefer's THE MONSTER OF FRANKENSTEIN or any one of the EC COMICS titles, you where sure to expect dismemberments, beheadings, and all other types of painful deaths for their colorful villains.

FOUL PLAY: THE ART AND ARTISTS OF THE 1950'S E.C.COMICS is the story of the company and men who created these comics and a must for anyone into the golden age of comics. The first had accounts by the writers and artists will surely entertain as well as inform.
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By Runmentionable TOP 1000 REVIEWER on 3 Oct 2012
Format: Paperback
The EC Comics of the early 1950s were by far the best American comics of their era, and as a publishing house the overall quality of their output has never been rivalled. Although most famous for horror comics (and the sales of the horror titles did keep the rest of the line afloat, as well as prompting the industry-wide horror comics boom of the time), they also published outstanding work in the science fiction, war/adventure, and crime genres, as well as the almost unclassifiable ShocksuspenStories, which used their hard-hitting, surprise-ending formula to make liberally-inclined social commments - a very brave move in very conservative times. Oh, and they came out with Mad, a comic before it became a magazine, a huge hit and an abiding influence on popular culture ever since. The EC's weren't perfect - they could be formulaic, and the text-heavy stories were sometimes plodding - but they remain the only example of a mainstream comics publisher where producing quality work was at least as important as the commercial imperative.

As a comics company, they were pretty much done by 1955 (victims of a certain creative exhaustion, but more crucially of a moral panic about the spurious links between comics and juvenile delinquency), but they happily transformed themselves into Mad magazine, a huge and enduring success to this day. Their place in comics history is unassailable and unique, and their influence is still felt in comics and the broader popular culture.

EC's success was built around its stable of artists, and again the pool of collective talent working there is unrivalled in comics history. This book, which is by far the best one-volume introduction to EC to date, cleverly works with that as its foundation.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 18 reviews
22 of 23 people found the following review helpful
By popular culture lover - Published on
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Grant Geissman hits another one out of the park with this book. FOUL PLAY is the perfect melding of good ol' gory EC fun and the EC research we've come to expect of Geissman. He provides fresh insights into the EC stable of artists, rather than just regurgitating what's already known. That's quite an accomplishment for subject matter that's 50 years old and already mined extensively. Geissman even dares to confound the traditionalists by not choosing "Master Race" as Bernard Krigstein's story example.

My only quibble (and it's a tiny one) is his story choice for the criminally under-rated Johnny Craig. One would almost think "Touch and Go" was Craig's only masterpiece. It would've been nice to pick a different, under-appreciated gem such as "The Sewer" from Crime Suspenstories #5 or Johnny's tour de force "Mausoleum" from Vault of Horror #29.

The care lavished on this book, along with its quietly elegant production values, makes it a must-buy for any EC fan. Or for anyone who knows the idiom of comics can spawn work as timeless as any other art form.

David Burlington
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
By love books - Published on
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Such a beautiful book....For someone who doesn't know much about EC comics (or for that matter comics printed during the 50s-80s),this book was an eye-opener.It describes the art and lives of the artists and creaters of EC in such a beautiful manner that once I started this book ,I was hooked.What a shame that these very interesting comics were stopped from being published only after a short run at the printing press.The book is done in a beautiful manner with about 14 EC comics stories included.The whole package is very nicely done.Highly recommended,even if you are not a big EC comic fan.Buy it just for the art.If I had a choice I would give it ten stars,one of the best books I own.
9 of 11 people found the following review helpful
A book by an E.C. fan with insight and taste 1 May 2005
By n0s4a2 - Published on
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
To be perfectly honest, I've spent all of 15 minutes looking at this book in a comic shop less than 20 minutes ago, but I can tell you it's good. Whole stories have been reprinted (photographed from printed comics rather than from original art, but the reproduction is good), as well as individual panels and examples from other aspects of their careers. Each artist is well represented with his best work, and the images are chosen with knowledge and taste. The biographies are well researched, giving an overview of each artist's career arc. I could lay in bed for hours looking at this thing, and I intend to.
6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
EC Done Right 4 May 2005
By John Michlig - Published on
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
For fans of EC, FOUL PLAY is unquestionably required reading. A visual treat and a true pleasure to read, this is simply a beautifully done book.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Pull the covers over your head and read it by flashlight! 29 May 2006
By Michael K. Smith - Published on
Format: Paperback
In the 1950s, while the other kids were ooohing-and-ahhhing over Superman and the Green Lantern, we few proto-geeks were absorbed in MAD Magazine and the equally lunatic E.C. monthlies, especially Tales from the Crypt, Creepy, Haunt of Fear, Weird Science, and the SuspenStories series. Nobody could keep your eyes glued silently to the page like Jack Davis, Bill Gaines, Al Feldstein, and their cohorts. Some of the stories were original, some were adaptations of authors we also doted on. (Ray Bradbury was a favorite source, and you'll find his classic story "Touch and Go!" here, which I clearly remember reading when it appear in 1953.) This lavish volume is partly a history of that genre and partly a collection of full-length, photoreproduced stories -- plus an original, "Wanted for Murder!," written by Johnny Craig for E.C.'s "picto-fiction" magazine, Crime Illustrated! (which was actual typeset text -- no balloons -- overlaid on the black-and-white artwork). This is a great book for fans of the days when they published real comic books!
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