The Most Controversial Comic Book Company In History Is Back

By Zack Zagranis | Published

  • After disbanding in the 1950s, a controversial comic book company is back in business.
  • EC Comics is once again publishing new comics.
  • The iconic publisher folded after facing backlash for comics some deemed inappropriate for youth.
  • EC Comics’ first titles will be released this summer.

Great news, boils and ghouls. Everyone’s favorite undead horror host is coming back! EC Comics, the infamous comic book brand that brought the world Tales From the Crypt and Mad, is being resurrected courtesy of Oni Press. Oni, the publisher behind Scott Pilgrim, will drop the first two EC titles, Epitaphs From the Abyss and Cruel Universe, this summer.

EC Comics Is Responsible For Tales From The Crypt

Most people will remember Tales From the Crypt as a horror anthology that ran on HBO in the ’90s. The series’ host and mascot, The Crypt-Keeper, became something of a pop culture icon thanks to his never-ending supply of bad horror puns. What many don’t know is that the popular television series was based on a comic book from EC Comics.

EC Comics Dates Back To 1944

EC originally stood for Educational Comics and was founded by Max Gaines in 1944 to peddle history and bible stories to children in a form they would find appealing. Sadly, Max died just three years later in 1947, leaving EC to his son William Gaines, who had a much different definition of children’s entertainment than his father. William quickly changed the company’s name to Entertainment Comics and started publishing more violent and salacious content than his father.

Gone were the bible and history stories replaced instead with depraved tales of horror, violent war comics, and gritty crime stories. Naturally, kids ate the new comics up like a great white at an all-you-can-eat baby seal buffet. Some of EC Comics’ most popular titles were Weird Science, Weird Fantasy, and Shock SuspenStories.

Tales From The Crypt And Mad Put EC Comics On The Map

But EC’s biggest money maker by far was Tales From the Crypt and its two companion publications, The Vault of Horror and The Haunt of Fear. The comics were led by a trio of frightful MCs: the Crypt-Keeper, the Vault-Keeper, and the Old Witch, respectively. These gruesome hosts would present readers with the most violent and gore-stained fables of the time.

In a real-life case of the famous Sesame Street mantra, “One of these things is not like the other,” EC Comics’ other claim to fame—possibly even rivaling its horror titles—was a satirical comic book called Mad. Mad and its mascot, Alfred E. Neuman, would make an even bigger impact on pop culture than even Tales From the Crypt. Unfortunately, a company like EC Comics, with its boundary-pushing content, is bound to get noticed by the wrong people at some point…

The Controversy

In 1954, Dr. Fredric Wertham published a book called Seduction of the Innocent, which proposed that comic books were causing impressionable kids to break bad. A congressional hearing was held the same year that blamed comics as the main cause of juvenile delinquency in America. At the forefront of the hearings was EC Comics and its grizzly horror stories.The hearings led various comic book publishers to band together and establish the Comics Code Authority as a way to censor themselves before the Government stepped in. Gaines disagreed with the CCA’s restrictive policies, like no comic being able to have the word “Horror” or “Weird” in its title, along with rules against vampires, werewolves, and anything considered occult or supernatural. Unfortunately, EC’s decision not to play ball with the other comic publishers led to EC’s sales plummeting.

The End Of EC

By the 1960s, EC Comics was no more. Mad alone survived due to Gaines’ having the foresight to change formats from comic books to magazines, which weren’t subject to the same scrutiny as comics. Gaines sold the company as E.C. Publications, Inc. to DC Comics in 1967, and for a long time, that was all she wrote.

New Releases Roll Out In July

With Oni Press breathing new life into the corpse of EC Comics, readers can once again enjoy the twisted horrors of books like Tales From the Crypt. Epitaphs From the Abyss will launch first in July 2024 followed by Cruel Universe in August. Following those first two titles, Oni will put out two new EC Comics titles monthly.The new EC titles will feature a revolving door of comics creators, including Brian Azzarello, Cullen Bunn, Corinna Bechko, and many others.

There is no word yet on what other titles Oni Press is planning on putting out, but we have our fingers crossed that Tales From the Crypt will be one of them.