Just as I started thinking about the old E.C. titles and how I'd like to get my hands on some of the reprints that came out in the 1980's, I found out they were getting reprinted in hardcover trades! I was young when I first started reading the E.C. books, picking up the single-issue reprints of whatever was available at the supermarket or drug store. All of those copies were thrown away as a punishment nearly 20 years ago, along with all the other comics I had. I started reading comics again in 2001, and lately I've been dying to read these old stories from the 1950's that I connected with so heavily, forty years after they had originally been collected.
I've picked up this title and Weird Science, so far, and they both deliver even more than I thought they would. The original art was used in the re-printings. The lines and shading of the reprinted art is just as crisp as it may have been in the 1950's, perhaps crisper. The lettering is also amazingly clean and it's a blast to read Al Feldstein's thoughts on how each artist had his own distinctive style of bubbling/boxing in the letters that matched his artistic style.
And the colors, well I can't say that I ever laid eyes on the original printings, but I would imagine that the re-colorings are at on par. Even if they are not, they are certainly more defined than in the reprinted issues from the 1980's. Those issues are what I have to go on, and the reprinting in the hardcover surpasses them in quality--I managed to find a couple of back issues of the "Tales From the Crypt" and "Vault of Horror" reprints so I am able to compare them. Plus, everything is printed on high-quality, glossy paper. It's really a great job. And the writing is, of course, unchanged. It's amazing how Feldstein had so many stories in his head, churning out four stories per issue plus one or two one-page short stories. They hit just as hard as ever, with the "preachies" standing out like lightening blasts. To have read these fiery anti-bigotry stories in 1952 must have been a shock, indeed. All the letters pages and E.C. ads are also faithfully included.
Only downsides? It sells for $50 in the comic shops. Personally, I think it is worth the price considering just how well these stories are reprinted and the fact that it just gets harder and harder to find any trace of the older reprints, including the old hardcover reprints. The price just puts the younger readers out of range, though, kids will have to rely on their parents to fork over the cash if they want to be shocked and in suspense. The other downside is that it seems the volumes are going to be coming out just as slowly as every other comic book company puts out their trades, and that Weird Fantasy (the stories I am most interested in!) isn't scheduled until lord only knows when. They are putting out just one new volume every two months! Maybe if they sell fast and well, the release schedule will be quickened....hint, hint...BUY THEM!
To further answer the questions from die-hard fans about how faithful the re-colorings are, here is a quote from Russ Cochran, in charge of the project, from an interview by Jim Patterson for "Tales of Wonder" (Google it):
"RC: I remember when I saw the Nostalgia Press book Horror Comics Of The '50s. I was very disappointed in the color. It was garish and so strong in some cases that it tended to obliterate the artwork. The original ECs were printed on the cheapest grade of paper which absorbed the colors and kept them from being too garish. When these same color separations were printed on a better quality paper, the color was too strong. This has been a problem in virtually all the Archives projects from DC and Marvel and I wanted the EC Archives to solve that problem, and I believe it has. First of all, the earliest EC Comics from 1950 were not colored by Marie Severin. They were colored by employees of Chemical Color Engraving and this coloring left a lot to be desired. Bill Gaines and Al Feldstein were very unhappy with the coloring from Chemical. Toward the end of the first year John Severin mentioned that his sister, Marie Severin, could do a better job of coloring all the ECs. She was hired and subsequently colored all the EC product. Every page in the EC Archives has been re-colored using modern computer technology to include fades and blends, modeling on faces and clothing, and other modern techniques to achieve a more pleasing color page. But in doing this Marie's original color schemes and style were followed."