Tom Spurgeon's Web site of comics news, reviews, interviews and commentary

January 23, 2013

Go, Read: Gary Groth On EC Comics

imageThere's a fun essay here from Gary Groth on EC Comics. He's those comics' publisher right now, but he's also a critic, so his appraisal while positive is measured and qualified. The post-alternative comics generation criticism of the EC Comics as occupying too great a place in the overall comics-as-art firmament is an interesting one for all of the rhetorical slipperiness that manages to crop up and the way it comes with a you-are-compromised rebuttal built in. I tend to like those comics, and admire their virtues, but like Groth I think their limitations are fairly obvious.

One aspect of the EC Comics thing that I think gets underplayed is that the myth built around them allowed them to survive in the memory of comics fans that wanted better comics when a lot of similar comics, even comics arguably better suited to this cause, either faded from memory outright or were published in ways that fans of that period failed to make connections between what they were doing and what was possible. It's hard for some people to wrap their minds around this, but it was easier for a lot of folks to think of a vaseline-on-the-lens EC Comics as a role model for what comics of the 1970s and early 1980s might do than to simply see Doonesbury and Feiffer as models that might be expanded. That's what it was like back then. One of the miracles of the comics-as-art movement is that it came out of a period of widespread cultural amnesia and a landscape defined in great part by a massive number of invisible or near-invisible constructs for how popular art like comics might function.
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