THE EC ARCHIVES: TALES FROM THE CRYPT VOL. 3 (Mania.com)

By:Tim Janson
Review Date: Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Volume three of Gemstone’s outstanding EC Archives, Tales from the Crypt collects issues 13 – 18 of the original comic book series, first published in 1952 – 1953 by EC Comics. Amazingly more that fifty years after its demise, EC Comics continues to cast a giant shadow over the entertainment industry, influencing modern comics, horror fiction, and film. Outside of Marvel and DC, it’s hard to find any other comic book company that has more ingrained itself in the public eye than EC. With stories that were well ahead of their time and a cadre of artists unparalleled in that era, EC Comics are still as fresh and fascinating now as they were in the 1950s,
 
By now, Jack Davis had become the feature artist for Tales from the Crypt, contributing the covers and one story for each of the issues in this run. Each of the six covers are suitably macabre but two stand out. There’s the executioner raising his axe, about to slice the hands off and unfortunate man for issue #15 (numbered 31) and the female mummy and two-headed ghoul from issue #17 (numbered 33).
 
Some of the highlight stories from this collection include “A Sucker for a Spider”, “The Thing in the Glades”, the humorously grotesque “Taint the Meat it’s the Humanity”, “This Trick’ll Kill You”, and Grim Fairy Tale”, and “Lower Berth” which features the origin of the Crypt-Keeper. The stories are mostly all told in the usual EC formula, ending with a biting sense of irony has someone who richly deserves it gets their gruesome comeuppance. 
 
Each volume of the EC Archives includes several historical essays and vol. 3 includes a three-part article by Grant Geissman entitled “EC Horror Hits its Stride!” Geissman hits on what I mentioned earlier regarding Jack Davis becoming the cover artist as well as handling the lead story in each issue until the end of the title’s run. Geissman presents a case for the title gaining the identity it has become known for during this period. Geissman also pens an article on the great colorist extraordinaire, Marie Severin who amazingly handled the coloring chores for most of EC’s titles when she came aboard in 1951. While the color in these volumes has been re-mastered, it has been done to maintain the integrity of Severin’s original work.
 
Along with the covers and stories, the book reprints the original advertisements and letter columns which are always fun to read and give you the flavor of what readers felt when reading these stories fifty years ago. As will all the volumes they are hardcover with a dust jacket and make the perfect addition to the horror fan’s library. These volumes are simply gorgeous and you can’t help but take your hat off to Gemstone for keeping the EC legacy alive.
 


Mania Grade: A
Writer: Al Feldstein
Artist: Jack Davis, Joe Orlando, Graham Ingels, Jack Kamen, Geroge Evans
Publisher: Gemstone Publishing
Pages: 212
Price: $49.95