Jack Davis was one of a stable of amazing draftsmen who worked for EC Comics in the 1950s, and who would go on to found Mad Magazine, but even among such talented artists as Joe Orlando, Al Williamson, and Wally Wood, Davis was a standout. His endearingly cartoonish style would prove so popular that by the 1970s, his art would be in millions of American homes.
Born October 24, 1925, Al Feldstein was one of comics' great guiding lights. Although an exceptional artist, Feldstein's legacy comes from his work as a writer and editor at EC, where he was one of the primary driving forces behind two of the most influential movements in comics history.
Born October 3, 1924 in Brooklyn, New York, Harvey Kurtzman might be the single most influential cartoonist of all time.
As the editor of Two-Fisted Tales and Frontline Combat for EC Comics, Kurtzman created an entirely new kind of war comic that is still considered the gold standard today; as the creator and driving force behind Mad, he introduced his own brand of satire into the American lexicon. In an expansive family tree of truth-seekers that includes artists, writers, filmmakers, musicians, and comedians, Harvey Kurtzman is the root.
Born on August 21, 1929, Marie Severin is one of the true multi-faceted treasures of comics, an artist equally adept at delineating humor and high adventure, whose keen eye and innate feel made her one of the industry's preeminent colorists, and whose gift for expressing emotion with a few quick lines led to a three-decade stint as one of Marvel's top artists and designers, working on everything from Doctor Strange to the Muppet Babies.
Even among a roster of talents that includes several industry legends, Johnny Craig's work with EC Comics stands out. An artist who usually wrote his own stories, he produced clean and lively pages that brought his shocking, poetic yarns to life, and as the premier cover artist for the publisher, Craig's jolting imagery for Vault Of Horror, Tales From The Crypt and Crime SuspenStories frequently provided a fitting introduction to the taut, disturbing tales that laid in wait inside.
Unfortunately, it was his brilliance on those covers that led to his widespread vilification. Born April 25, 1926, today we take a moment to appreciate the work of the late, great Johnny Craig.
On April 21 1954, William M. "Bill" Gaines, publisher of Entertaining Comics, spoke at the Senate Subcommittee on Juvenile Delinquency to defend his comic books against accusations of indecency and the perversion of minors. Some say as a direct result of his testimony, comic books were irreparably damaged. But no matter the result, Bill Gaines should be applauded simply for being willing to stand up and be counted.
Illustrator supreme. Inker extraoardinaire. Member of the Eisner Hall Of Fame. Al Williamson's skill was matched only by his imagination, and in a career that spanned seven decades, he established himself as not just one of the greatest artists the comics industry has ever seen, but one of the most sympathetic and versatile collaborators, who brought an extra element of inspiration to everything he touched, and helped those around him to achieve new heights.
He's drawn absurd animal comics, invented innumerable impossible items, and been responsible for mutilating the back covers of many millions of magazines. He's won the highest honors that the medium of comics has to offer, authored best-selling books, and appeared in more issues of Mad Magazine than any other contributor. He's Al Jaffee, one of America's best-known and most beloved cartoonists, and this past weekened marked his 95th birthday.
Horror. Crime. Science Fiction. War. Suspense. Oddball humor. Incisive writing. Eye-popping art. These are the elements that made EC Comics irresistible to readers of the 1950s. Their titles were produced by some of the finest creators the comic industry has ever seen.
When the bubble burst, and EC's line of comics fell before a squalling mob of censors, Senators, sinister psychiatrists and simple-minded puritans, one series managed to escape, transform itself into a full-size black-and-white magazine, and go on to turn American culture upside-down with its cleverly absurd approach to humor. And through it all, there was one constant figure lurking behind the scenes: publisher, co-editor, troubleshooter, troublemaker, and visionary William M. Gaines.
The Comics Code Seal of Approval, adopted on this day on 1954 by the Comics Magazine Association of America, is an instantly recognizable image to generations of comic readers. Its modest black-and-white brand adorned the covers of countless mainstream comic books for the better part of six decades, assuring buyers that the contents of their favorite title had met with some not-entirely-clear standards of suitability, and serving as a lingering reminder of an era when comics has been considered a serious threat to society.