Monday, January 14, 2019

EC Comics! It's An Entertaining Comic! Issue 74

The EC Reign Month by Month 1950-1956
The Picto-Fiction Titles
February 1956 to May 1956
The Second Issues

Rudy Nappi
Shock Illustrated 2 (February 1956)

"The Lipstick Killer"★★
Story by Daniel Keyes
Art by Reed Crandall

"My Brother's Keeper"★★1/2
Story by Jack Oleck
Art by George Evans

"A Question of Time"★★★
Story by Al Feldstein
Art by Al Williamson and Angelo Torres
(from Crime SuspenStories #13)

"Dead Right"★★★
Story by Al Feldstein
Art by Graham Ingels
(from Tales from the Crypt #37)

Seventeen-year-old Lennie didn't mean to stab and kill her, but she shouldn't have surprised him as he rifled through her bedroom drawers! Its the third girl in three months, but this time the cops catch him and he is tried and sentenced to life in the state pen. During his second week in stir, "The Lipstick Killer" meets the prison psychiatrist, Dr. Mason (not The Psychiatrist, who has disappeared), who begins psychoanalysis. Talk therapy leads to the revelation that, when Lennie was four, he killed his baby sister and his parents gave him up for adoption. He has spent his young life seeking the mother he lost, but the breakthrough causes a psychotic break and Lennie is fitted for a straight-jacket.

"The Lipstick Killer"
That great cover painting by Rudy Nappi shows the opening of this story and looks like it would not be out of place on a contemporary issue of Manhunt, suggesting that Bill Gaines was trying to attract the male readers of crime and mystery digests. The story is drawn by Reed Crandall, but he doesn't have much room to stretch since it's mostly talking heads. At 18 pages long, it just goes on and on, but there's hope--in a note on the inside cover, the editors promise that this will be the last psychological story we'll be subjected to.

The kids like to make fun of Dave's slow, clumsy brother, Larry, and the town elders fear that violence will erupt, so they suggest an institution. Dave hates the idea of Larry being locked up, so he murders and buries his own brother, thinking this will free the lumbering man. What Dave did not realize is that the violence the townsfolk feared came from him, as "My Brother's Keeper" and, in the end, he is the one who is locked up.

An EC variation on Of Mice and Men, right down to Dave/George and Larry/Lennie, but with a silly surprise tacked on at the end. George Evans does his best, but the story is weak and derivative.

"My Brother's Keeper"
"A Question of Time" and "Dead Right" feature more quality art by Williamson/Torres and Ingels but add nothing new to the original comic book stories on which they are based. There is a letters column that features missives both for and against Shock #1, making me wonder how many (if any) of the letters were real and how many were fabricated. The second issue of Shock improves on the first by not having four deadly psychology stories, but one overly long shrink tale, one Steinbeck ripoff, and two re-dos of old stories do not a very good magazine make.-Jack

Peter: "The Lipstick Killer" probably came off as daring and insightful when it was published back in 1955 but, to me, it only comes off as bloated and dated in 2019. Surely, that's because of all the Hollywood flicks and episodes of Medical Center I've endured where the pansy-boy who loved mommy's panties turns to a life of sexual violence when he comes of age. But it might also be due to the hammy nature of the prose. "My Brother's Keeper" does a good job of walking the line between heart-rending and maudlin until it gets to its murky climax (and its shameful swipes of Of Mice and Men). Maybe I'm dense, but I can't figure out whether the reveal is supposed to imply that there really was no Larry or if the townsfolk thought Dave was the dangerous one all along. I'll leave that explanation to the college-educated of the bare-bones duo.

Jack: No problem, Pete, I've got you covered. Larry was real.

Reed Crandall
Crime Illustrated 2 (April 1956)

Story by Jack Oleck
Art by Reed Crandall

"Fair Trade"★★★
Story by John Larner
Art by Graham Ingels

"Clean Sweep"★★1/2
Story by Al Feldstein
Art by Joe Orlando

"Screenplay for Murder"★★1/2
Story by Al Feldstein
Art by Jack Davis
(Originally appeared as "Cut"
in Crime SuspenStories #9)

"Pieces of Hate"★★
Story by Al Feldstein
Art by Johnny Craig
(Originally appeared as "In Each and Every Package"
 in  Crime SuspenStories #22)

Arnold, a meek, balding man, sits in a jail cell confessing to a priest, explaining why he murdered his wife, Harriet. He was an accountant who liked to buy small treasures at an auction shop on his way home, but his wife always accused him of infidelity. Working late one night, Arnold takes a dinner break with a secretary and Harriet catches them together. Arnold decides to murder his wife and buys a large, clear glass jar filled with a colorless liquid. He brings it home and tells Harriet that it's a magic jar whose liquid will turn black when either one of them is unfaithful. One night, when Harriet is out, he puts ink in the jar. The next morning, he stares at the jar, takes a knife, and cuts his wife's throat while she sleeps. He explains to the priest that Harriet had come home and replaced the black liquid with clear water!

A disappointing twist ending finds the husband in "Motive" unexpectedly a cuckold and acting out of character, cutting his wife's throat when he finds that she has been unfaithful. Despite the fine illustrations, these stories can't overcome the limited skills of the writers.

A beautiful city girl named Cora marries a burly woodsman named Mart and moves to his cabin, soon to be followed by her no good brother, Lee. Lee needs money to set himself up back in the city, so Cora thinks of the $5000 life insurance policy (with double indemnity) that her husband has and thoughts of murder soon follow. She and Lee try to electrocute Mart but mistakenly kill his dog. She buys Mart a bright red jacket and convinces him to wear it when he goes hunting. She shoots and kills the man in the red jacket but is shocked when Mart comes home and tells her he traded his new jacket for Lee's electric razor.

"Fair Trade"

Ingels is at the top of his game in "Fair Trade," giving us a stunning Cora and a frightening last panel where her wide, staring eye is about all we see of her face.

Paul Matthews has three women in his life: his wife Sarah, middle-aged and suspicious; his secretary Edna, demure and in love with him; and his mistress Karen, a bombshell who knows about the other two but doesn't care. When his wife tells him that she's divorcing him and keeping her money, Matthews hatches a plan--he'll arrange for Sarah and Edna to be on the same plane and he'll blow it up with a time bomb! Matthews's nefarious plan seems to be going well until he discovers that Edna has left his rigged radio in his office desk and, at the appointed time, Paul and Karen are blown sky high!

"Clean Sweep"

"Clean Sweep" begins as a dull story of a man with too many women and suddenly explodes in the final panels, with Joe Orlando showing an unexpected flash of brilliance as Matthews and Karen--a dead ringer for Marilyn Monroe--experience the effects of a time bomb first hand.

"Screenplay for Murder"
Matinee idol John Hammond may be on top now, but he worries about losing his fans when his wrinkles begin to show. His stand-in, Russel Slade, is nearly his double, as makeup man Pierre Maisel points out. Slade decides he wants Hammond's life and resolves to kill the movie star. One day, Hammond is alone at his mansion when, for a lark, he decides to mow the lawn for the first time. Slade appears and shoots him in the chest but trips as he runs away and finds himself right in the path of the onrushing mower.

Ten pages fly by in "Screenplay for Murder," a straightforward story with a ridiculous ending. Jack Davis tones down his art and is a bit more serious than usual, but couldn't the guy roll out of the path of the lawnmower?

Norman is tired of his obese wife, Bertha, so he kills her with an axe, dismembers her, and buries the pieces around the back yard. He travels to New York City to meet his lover, Sally, who has had plastic surgery to resemble Bertha so she can go home and take the place of his wife. After a whirlwind tour of the Big Apple they go on a game show and win the grand prize, which is at that very moment being buried in Norman's back yard.

"Pieces of Hate"
A ludicrous plot dooms "Pieces of Hate," which had just been published in comic book form two years before. Johnny Craig's art is uncharacteristically bad, with only occasional flashes of the style we've grown accustomed to. Why redo bad stories with sub-par art when you're trying to sell a new format?-Jack

Peter: I found the stories of "Motive" and "Fair Trade" to be lacking ("Fair Trade" telegraphs its "shock" ending right from the get-go) but both excelled in the art department. Who would have guessed that Graham Ingels knew how to draw female breasts? My problem with most of these Picto-stories is that there's a whole lot of padding going on and it seems to take days to get to the point (if there is, indeed, a point). The only bright spots, to me, are when Al and Co. slip in some risqué bit (such as the implied incest in "Fair Trade" and Sarah's "sagging breasts" in "Clean Sweep.") just to remind us that this is, indeed, an adult magazine we're reading. Keeping track of all the different women in Paul Matthews's life was giving me a headache so I can't imagine what it was doing to him. There was a little too much One Life to Live-esque nonsense in this one for my tastes but I'll give an extra half-star for the sheer selfishness and evil of Paul's master plan. To blow up an entire plane full of innocents, so you can keep your dough, and not blink takes a special kind of guy.

Reed Crandall

Terror Illustrated 2 (April 1956)

"Horror in the Freak Tent" ★★★
Story by Al Feldstein
Art by Reed Crandall
(from Haunt of Fear #5)

"Requiem" ★★1/2
Story by John Larner
Art by Graham Ingels

"Mother Love" ★★1/2
Story by Al Feldstein
Art by Charles Sultan

"Head Man" ★★★
Story by Jack Oleck
Art by Jack Davis

"Reflection of Death" ★★1/2
Story by Al Feldstein
Art by George Evans
(From Tales from the Crypt #23)

Mr. Jeremy and Parks are two very hard-working grave-robbers in "Requiem," a long-winded terror tale with a few grim bits and some very nice art by Ghastly. One of the ghouls' "victims" is a ten-year-old girl, and writer John Larner certainly knows how to push a reader's buttons, as in this passage when Mr. Jeremy visits his dentist:

   Oh, my, yes, the dentist was very kind. It was common knowledge that Mr. Jeremy lived on a small pension. But Mr. Jeremy smiled and ordered the best. After all, the dentist would be paying for it himself, in a way.
   It had only been some six months since Mr. Jeremy had unearthed the body of the dentist's ten year old daughter... dead of pneumonia, poor little thing... and removed from her wasted neck her deceased mother's emerald brooch, sentimentally interred with her by her father...

If only the rest of the story were that skin-crawling, but it becomes a ponderous plod about Mr. Jeremy's impending death and his efforts to stave off Parks's inevitable pillage once Jeremy is in the ground. In his comments in the Cochran box set, John Benson quotes Ted White as saying that comic readers weren't happy about the text-laden Picto-Fiction line because "the average comic reader does not want to read..." That might not be far from the truth, since this average comic reader is having a hard time staying awake through a lot of the padded prose stories (other than the Confessions, because they cross the line into WTF?) seeing print in these titles.

"Mother Love"
Leona has known nothing but the back hand of a man all her life, first from her father and then from Clint, the man she'd been sold to. Life is cheap in the swamps. Clint purchases Leona (for the exorbitant price of twenty bucks) for obvious reasons, so when the girl gets pregnant she's useless to him. He beats her endlessly and then dumps her writhing body in front of a local hospital. There she gives birth to her child, but the doctors won't let her see the baby. In the middle of the night, she rises and goes to the maternity ward, scoops up her baby, and heads back to her shack in the swamp with vengeance on her mind. Soon after Clint has a few fatal stab wounds in him, troopers come to take Leona and her "baby" ("a misshapen pink and white horror" in a formaldehyde-filled jar) back to the hospital.

Reading just like a Gold Medal "swamp girl" novel of the mid-1950s, "Mother Love" is one huge hunk of bleakness, never letting up, especially with its grim climax. About that final image: similarities to Bradbury's "The Jar" are unavoidable but, in that story, we had no concrete idea of what was in Charlie's jar. Here, in "Mother Love," we know all too well the horror that floats in the clear liquid. This was the only chance the EC completist got to see of the work of pulp and men's magazine artist Charles Sultan (Sultan contributed one more story to the never-released Terror Illustrated #3); the artist's style is very similar to that of Joe Orlando.

"Head Man"

"Horror in the Freak Tent"
Jack Oleck contributes the best original story this issue, "Head Man," another reminder that EC had decided its readership was predominantly adult. Nine-year-old Bruce is the son of big businessman John Emery and, to escape his father's bullying ways, the boy imagines himself in other worlds while playing in his dusty attic hideaway. A rash of child murders (beheadings) has hit the town and senior Emery is demanding that the town constable, Mr. Simpson, find the murderer immediately. Since the killer has left no clues and the town hasn't the budget to hire more men, the case is cold and Simpson can only shrug. After Bruce has a frightening run-in with Simpson in the woods and another body is found, suspicion is cast on the elderly constable and he finds himself fleeing for his life from an angry mob. The raging townsfolk catch up to Simpson hiding in a barn and burn the building to the ground. Later, that night, John Emery enters Bruce's attic sanctum to find him playing with four bloody heads. Even in the glory days of baseball games played with body parts and men reduced to dog food, it's hard to imagine such an unrelentingly morose tale seeing the light of day in Vault of Horror. It's only natural to guess the true identity of the killer in one of these things after years of reading EC whodunits, but that final panel, of little Brucie holding up one of his trophies, is still a shocker. The issue is filled out with two reboots, both very nicely illustrated. -Peter

Jack-The first reboot, "Horror in the Freak Tent," features a great story and great art and may well be the single best piece of work we get in the Picto Fiction line. Reed Crandall really outdoes himself here and the setting is one of my favorites. It's too bad the final panel is rendered somewhat discreetly, as it could've been a real shocker. "Requiem" held my interest, as I wondered how it would end, but once again, the ending was somewhat muted. I agree with you about the swamp atmosphere of "Mother Love" but I found the story so distasteful from start to finish that I could not warm up to it. Sultan's splash page is excellent but the rest of the story has shaky art. I knew who the killer in "Head Man" was right from the start but, like the rest of the EC crew, Jack Davis elevates his art here. Finally, "Reflection of Death" is much too long for its slender thread of plot and drags on, wasting the talents of George Evans and giving us another example of a big reveal at the end that doesn't amount to much. Even though EC turned to the magazine format to avoid censorship, they are still censoring themselves in ways that dampen the effect of the stories.

Rudy Nappi
Confessions Illustrated 2 (May 1956)

"I Sold My Baby" ★
Story by Daniel Keyes
Art by Jack Kamen

"Unfaithful Wife" ★★1/2
Story by Daniel Keyes
Art by Reed Crandall

"They Ran Me Out of Town"  ★★★
Story by Daniel Keyes
Art by Jack Kamen

"I Destroyed My Marriage" ★★★1/2
Story by Daniel Keyes
Art by Joe Orlando

"Man-Crazy" ★★
Story by Daniel Keyes
Art by Johnny Craig

"I Sold My Baby"
Dora Edwards gets a letter from the War Department, informing her that her beau, Paul, is missing in action and presumed dead. Being seven months' pregnant, this news comes as a bit of a shock and Dora seeks answers for her future. What to do about the illegitimate bun in the oven? Poor Dora really is poor and was counting on Paul's paycheck to support them and Junior. Panicking, she contacts an old friend, who sends Dora off to a brokerage firm that handles black-market babies. The firm will put Dora up in a home for the rest of her pregnancy, give her five hundred clams, and then sell the baby outside the US to rich folk who haven't the time nor the patience for red tape. When the baby is delivered, Dora has second thoughts, but is told, too late, that the kid is already with his new parents. Imagine her surprise and consternation when she gets home and opens a letter from Paul, telling her he's fine and heading home to hug her and the little whippersnapper.
Uh oh.

Paul comes home, flips his lid when he gets the whole story, calls Dora a slut, and stomps out. A few days later, though, Paul calls his estranged fiancé and informs her that a crew of private investigators has located their baby in Montreal. Baby in arms, Paul and Dora head for the local Justice of the Peace. Lacking any of the humor and outlandishness found in the stories in issue #1, "I Sold My Baby" is the first Confessions Illustrated story to bore me to tears. The constant mood changes in the two principal characters are ludicrous; Paul's attitude towards Dora, in the climax, shifts from resentful and hating to loving and forgiving just like that.

"Unfaithful Wife"
Alice and Bill get married and settle down to a "happily ever after," but Alice learns very quickly that her husband's idea of Eden is eggs and coffee in the morning, a well-done steak in the evening, and whatever he wishes come bed time. Alice wants to travel... Bill wants to play bridge. Alice wants to dance... Bill wants to play more bridge. The daily grind (Alice has to inform the maid what to do each day!) and lack of excitement finally push our diva into the arms of another hunk. This one is Randy (a verrrrry appropriate name, we come to learn), a young writer who lives in a beach house and cavorts in the sand on his breaks, and Alice is smitten from the moment Randy coos, "Mind if I join you?"

The couple begin a hot 'n' heavy schedule of fooling around and horseback riding (in one particularly steamy scene, Alice and Randy actually combine the two activities) until Alice decides she can't take it anymore. She announces to Randy that she'll be asking Bill for a divorce, but his response is not what she'd hoped for. Randy tells her he'd love to continue their frolicking, but Alice should never fool herself; Randy will never marry a woman who would commit adultery. Our hapless heroine runs screaming from Randy's Frank Lloyd Wright knockoff, right into the arms of hubby, Bill, who'd become suspicious and followed Alice to Randy's. Bill gives Alice a stiff right cross and motors away, leaving his wife crying in the dirt. Once she gets home, the suddenly very-lonely beauty finds Bill's "Good-bye" note and launches into a session of self-pity, culminating in an inner debate between razors and sleeping pills. But Bill can't stay away for longer than three panels and he comes back to tell Alice he'd like to start again if she's willing to live the caged-up life. Alice smiles and says she wouldn't have it any other way.

Sure, Daniel Keyes has crafted a sexist, maybe even misogynistic warning for the 1950s' woman who craves more than being just a place mat and blow-up doll for the old man, but this idiocy does have certain charms and it comes complete with some stunning Reed Crandall art (yes, I know I've used that adjective to describe Crandall's work before, but some of "Unfaithful Wife" is simply gorgeous). And, hell, the story is a page-turner; you just know Alice is making a big mistake but, by golly, she can't help herself. The hilarity comes at the climax when Alice throws her hands up and resigns herself to the Stepford Wives life she was living before the fun interlude. How is it that she'll find love with the guy who bored her to tears just because Randy dumped her? I give the marriage another six months before Alice is making it with the milkman.

Pretty young school teacher Miss Whyte has noticed that one of her pupils, eighteen-year-old Lew Terson, has been making eyes and lewd gestures towards her during class. Then, one day after class, Lew spills the beans: he's mad about Miss Whyte and he knows she's reciprocal. The embarrassed English teacher spurns Lew's advances (while her thought balloons suggest she'd rather go down a different path - wink, wink) but the precocious teen is tenacious and makes his gorgeous teacher a deal: if she'll spend a night dancing and dining with him, he'll stop leering at and drooling over her in class. Admitting to herself that it's been years since she went out and had a good time, Miss Whyte agrees to the young hunk's terms and they go out on the date of a lifetime. Lew dresses like a businessman and sweeps the older woman off her feet. From there, it's only a hop, skip, and a hump to the hotel room, where Lew downs a bit of whiskey and grows horns and a tail.

Suddenly, Miss Whyte isn't so sure she wants to see what's behind that lettered shirt Lew is wearing, and heads for the door. Lew backhands Miss Whyte, throws her on the bed, and has his way with her. Two days later, stinking of raw sex and whiskey, Miss Whyte sneaks out the back door of the hotel and returns to school, only to find some obscene scribbling on the blackboard and notes placed around the classroom. Disgraced, Miss Whyte races home, but home is no sanctuary as, later that day, Mr. Jessup, the principal, arrives to tell the weeping teacher that not only has she lost her job, but the PTA is fixing to run her out of town. With nothing else to do, Miss Whyte moves to another town and starts another life but, she sighs, it'll be a cold day in hell before she trusts another man.

Poor Miss Whyte finds herself in pretty much the same dilemma as Kitty, the femme fatale of "I Can Never Marry," a woman without a town, sneaking out on the first train and trying to live down a sin that housewives and mothers find hard to forget. As entertaining as this tawdry tale is, you can't deny the misogyny present in these Confessions stories; women are used and thrown away, then punished for their "sins," denied a happy ending in most cases. I know that's the nature of this beast, as most of the readers (I'd love to see the demographics for this title... who was the intended audience?) want to read about characters who have it worse off than themselves. For once, I have no objections to Jack Kamen's art, which certainly comes off better in black-and-white than in the color titles.

"I Destroyed My Marriage"
When Louise's husband, Tod, tells her he'll be bringing his mother to live with them rather than finding her a "home," Louise begins a campaign of terror to ensure that her husband will regret the decision. She tells her two children to watch Nana around the baby because Gramma loves to eat children, especially fat little babies. Then she deliberately cuts her own finger and tells her mother-in-law to put the medicine bottle away in the cabinet, only to rush in later and place the bottle within reach of the children. The ensuing hysteria leads to Tod having second thoughts about Mum's stay but, to add a cherry on the top, Louise waits until the old lady falls asleep with her burning cigarette in an ashtray. The devilish woman sets fire to nearby magazines and then calls for her hubby in the backyard. Posed with a pot of water to douse the flames, Louise is startled to see Tod standing in the doorway. "I'm here... Louise... I saw... everything!" Tod sets his wife down with two choices: divorce or committing herself to an asylum for mentally deranged housewives. Louise begrudgingly chooses the latter but looks on the bright side: the mental institution must become her since, with the help of Joe Orlando, Louise makes a transformation from dowdy housewife to Marilyn Monroe!

Now here's a great Confessions story just itching for the Tales from the Crypt pay-off. Louise subjects her poor, innocent mother-in-law to such inhumane treatment that we can't wait for Mom to bury a conveniently-placed hatchet in her devilish daughter-in-law's head and serve her to the monstrous children as a cake! I was literally getting angry reading "I Destroyed My Marriage," because Tod's mom seems like a loving, caring individual, until that reveal, with Tod seeing the truth laid out before his eyes, brought a huge smile to my face. "See that, you silly cow?," I screamed at the page that dared not answer me back. I've thought of writing a Confessions-style yarn called "I Got Sucked Into These Mindless Fantasies That Taste So Good But Aren't Good For You!," but where's the market these days?

Let's not beat around the bush... Terry was "Man-Crazy"! Even though she's engaged to Vince, Terry ignores her mother's pleas to stay home and watch TV and hits the town for some action, in whatever form it might take. She's young, she's full of energy, she's got great breasts, and she knows how to use them. "Why let all this vigor go to waste?," she asks. So out she goes that night and the first ten guys who hit on her just aren't right. Nothing seems to click for her until a longshoreman sidles up to her and lets her feel his huge... shoulders. Terry is sold! They go out for a meal but the big hunk is strangely silent, almost maudlin. Later, they go for a stroll in the park, and the picture suddenly becomes crystal clear to Terry; in fact, she can see it reflected in her date's switchblade. Later, after it was over... newspapermen snap her picture as she lays unconscious in the park, longshoreman handcuffed to beat cop, and her face is spread all over the morning news: "Maniac Finally Caught With His Latest Victim!" Good news is that Vince doesn't care that she's damaged goods and marries her anyway. At last, a happy ending! But it happens to the one dame this issue who doesn't deserve it! The highlight of "Man-Crazy" is the gorgeous pencils of Johnny Craig, who gives the entire affair the proper noir touch. -Peter

Jack-Once again, Craig's art goes back and forth between his new, artistic, Picto-Fiction style and his old, dynamic, comic book style. I prefer the older Craig style, though I admit he does great work either way. As I read "Man-Crazy," I was thinking about how it would've ended much differently in a horror comic, with the tease carved up and left in the park. Instead, we get another sappy, happy ending. I thought the happy ending ruined "I Sold My Baby," which was otherwise curiously engrossing. I agree with you that Crandall's art on "Unfaithful Wife" is stunning, and reading this story made me realize that these are essentially cautionary tales for female readers. "They Ran Me Out of Town" is the second Kamen-illustrated story in the issue, and in both he seems to be doing better work than we've seen from him in some time. I did not like "I Destroyed My Marriage" as much as you did, though I'll admit that even Joe Orlando's art looks better than usual; there are still some wonky panels, so we can't have everything. What is wrong with us that we're enjoying this title so much?

Next Week...
Niño and Alcala make
Weird War Tales readable again!

And in Two Weeks...
The boys will wrap up their exhaustive
and exhausting coverage of EC Comics!


Anonymous said...

I have really enjoyed your EC coverage over the past years and will miss it. Thank you so much for doing these entries every two weeks. Maybe for your swan song article you can do top ten covers along with all-time best stories. I'll give you five --

1. SS #6 [Wood]: The all-time best cover by EC's all-time greatest artist
2. Valor #2 [Williamson]: Haven't seen a lot of gladiator comic book covers, but this one's got to be the best.
3. SS#9 [Feldstein]: Not one of my favorite artists, and he doesn't do as great a job with the "Carrion Death" subject as Crandall does inside the book, but it's a great job by Feldstein covering one of the greatest of EC's stories.
4. Crime Suspenstories #16 [Craig]: 22 got all the hate in the 1950's and gets all the love now, but 16 is the one that always struck me as the most extraordinary.
5. TFT #19 [Kurtzman]: Kurtzman channels Edvard Munch to remind us that war is hell.


Quiddity99 said...

Got some bad news, The Lipstick Killer (which ain't a bad story in my eyes, just too long) is NOT the last psychological story we get. We will have at least one more that I can recall.

"My Brothers Keeper" I would actually say is my single favorite story from the entire picto-fiction run. Yes, there is no denying that it took influence from Of Mice and Men and that is the one knock I have against the story. But the fact that our main character has to live the rest of his life knowing that he killed the one person he cared about more than anything, for nothing is such a crushing ending; that final panel of him screaming maniacally in his padded cell is just so fitting. Amazing story, amazing art job by George Evans, best thing we'll get out of the entire picto-fiction run if you ask me. Apparently writer Jack Oleck used this story for some four color comics too, per what the EC Library notes say, but I've never been able to track it/them down.

So I read this post's issue of Crime Illustrated around 3-4 weeks ago and I was completely confused at the ending of "Motive". Reading your summary, I finally get it what they were going for. Still a rather lame ending though. He planned on killing her anyway! Paul's selfishness in "Clean Sweep" really is over the top, but at least it didn't happen! The story seems like a takeoff of "Rendezvous" from Crime SuspenStories #16 where the main character successfully does blow up an entire plane of innocents... only for the wreckage to fall on him and kill him.

Other than "My Brothers Keeper", "Mother Love" is the other stand out story for this entry for me; you put it well, the story is just so bleak and sad. "Requiem" stands out for being quite a mediocre and dull story, wasting a strong art effort from Graham Ingels.

I have not yet read this issue of Confessions Illustrated, but looking forward to more over the topness!

Hard to believe you're only one entry away from the end of this long series of posts on EC. Sure will miss it! Very much looking forward to Warren though! In my mind Warren eventually surpasses even EC, although not until the 1970s.

Jack Seabrook said...

Thanks to both of you! It's been a long ride with EC and I'm glad to move on to something new.