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EC Comics

Race, Shock, and Social Protest

Qiana Whitted (author)

ISBN: 9780813566313

Publication Date: Jan 2019

Format: Paperback

Also available as: Hardback  

During its heyday in the 1950s, EC Comics was an innovator in socially conscious stories challenging the conservatism of Eisenhower-era America. EC Comics examines these works and explores how they grappled with the civil rights struggle, antisemitism, and other forms of prejudice. Winner of the 2020 Eisner Award for Best Academic/Scholarly Work.

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Entertaining Comics Group (EC Comics) is perhaps best-known today for lurid horror comics like Tales from the Crypt and for a publication that long outlived the company's other titles, Mad magazine. But during its heyday in the early 1950s, EC was also an early innovator in another genre of comics: the so-called "preachies," socially conscious stories that boldly challenged the conservatism and conformity of Eisenhower-era America. 

EC Comics examines a selection of these works - sensationally-titled comics such as "Hate!", "The Guilty!", and "Judgment Day!" - and explores how they grappled with the civil rights struggle, antisemitism, and other forms of prejudice in America. Putting these socially aware stories into conversation with EC's better-known horror stories, Qiana Whitted discovers surprising similarities between their narrative, aesthetic, and marketing strategies. She also recounts the controversy that these stories inspired and the central role they played in congressional hearings about offensive content in comics. 

The first serious critical study of EC's social issues comics, this book will give readers a greater appreciation of their legacy. They not only served to inspire future comics creators, but also introduced a generation of young readers to provocative ideas and progressive ideals that pointed the way to a better America.

Winner of the 2020 Eisner Award for Best Academic/Scholarly Work.


Whitted's book is an excellent example of how comics can serve as tools of social protest and instigate new realms of thought in both young and old readers alike. Qiana Whitted provides sharp analysis and insight into a publisher that pushed the boundaries of what was acceptable for a young medium to do." - The Journal of Graphic Novel and Comics
Illustrations 24 colour illustrations
Pages 164
Dimensions 229 x 152
Date Published 30 Jan 2019
Publisher Rutgers University Press
Series Comics Culture
Subject/s Literary studies: general   Anthologies (non-poetry)   Media studies   Literary companions   Popular culture   Illustration & commercial art   Ethnic studies   Social discrimination  
Qiana Whitted is a professor of English and African American studies at the University of South Carolina in Columbia. She is the author of A God of Justice?: The Problem of Evil in 20th Century Black Literature.

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