This is one comics line we did not expect to rise from the crypt: EC Comics, perhaps the most revered and controversial comics line of all, is back as an imprint at Oni Press. The NY Times broke the story this morning.

The line launches this summer with two anthologies: the horror-centered EPITAPHS FROM THE ABYSS #1 in July and SF-flavored CRUEL UNIVERSE #1 in August. The venture is a partnership with William M. Gaines Agent, Inc., the trust that holds the rights to EC; administrators Cathy Gaines Mifsud and Corey Mifsud, the daughter and grandson of EC Publisher William M. Gaines, will oversee it along with Oni’s publisher Hunter Gorinson and eic Sierra Hahn.

Creators on tap for the reanimated EC include pretty much who you would hope for: Jason Aaron (Thor, Southern Bastards), Brian Azzarello (Batman: Damned, 100 Bullets), Rodney Barnes (Killadelphia), Corinna Bechko (Invisible Republic), Cullen Bunn (The Sixth Gun), Christopher Cantwell (Briar), Cecil Castellucci (Shade the Changing Girl), Chris Condon (That Texas Blood), Joshua Hale Fialkov (The Bunker), J. Holtham (AMC’s The Handmaid’s Tale), Jeff Jensen (HBO’s Watchmen, Green River Killer), Matt Kindt (BRZRKR, Mind MGMT), Sean Lewis (King Spawn), Stephanie Phillips (Grim), Jay Stephens (Dwellings), Zac Thompson (Cemetery Kids Don’t Die), Ben H. Winters (CBS’ Tracker), and more; artists Kano (Gotham Central, Immortal Iron Fist), Peter Krause (Irredeemable), Leomacs (Rogues), Malachi Ward (Black Hammer: The End), Dustin Weaver (Avengers, Paklis), and more; designer Rian Hughes (The Multiversity)

The launch covers are by Lee Bermejo (A Vicious Circle, Batman: Damned), Greg Smallwood (The Human Target) and  J.H. Williams III (Sandman: Overture, Promethea).

EC Comics launched in 1944 and by the had 50s gained fame for both its superior content – art by notables including Johnny Craig, Reed Crandall, Jack Davis, Al Feldstein, Frank Frazetta, Harvey Kurtzman, Joe Orlando, John Severin, Marie Severin, Al Williamson, Wally Wood – and a mix of outre gore and socially relevant themes as written by Al Feldstein and Harvey Kurtzman. The line was also the focus of the famed “Seduction of the Innocent” Senate hearings in 1954 which led to the establishment of the Comics Code.

EC’s cover designs for titles like TALES FROM THE CRYPT, MAD MAGAZINE, WEIRD SCIENCE, TWO-FISTED TALES – a gallery of ghoulish hosts like the Cryptkeeper abutting ironic teaser images – has been endless imitated, and the shock endings of its stories have influenced generations of story tellers –  John Carpenter, Guillermo del Toro, Matt Groening, James Gunn, George Lucas, Stephen King, George R.R. Martin, The Ramones, George Romero and Steven Spielberg all admit to having been entranced by these tales.

So bringing back the line with new titles – and a revamped logo by Rian Hughes – is a bit of a daring flex by all involved.

“As my father said, ‘Only in the bounds of good taste!’ and I’m so excited to exhibit EC’s good taste with Oni Press, who have distinguished themselves with both an award-winning library of comics and graphic novels and a passionate understanding of EC’s singular role in shaping comics history,” said Cathy Gaines Mifsud, President of William M. Gaines Agent, Inc.

“EC Comics is no stranger to a good comeback story! We’re thrilled to make this return with Oni Press and usher the classic EC sensibilities into the modern world,” said Corey Mifsud, Executive Director of William M. Gaines Agent, Inc. “It’s always been our dream to one day bring the fearless creative spirit of EC to a new generation. Working hand-in-hand with Oni’s award-winning team and a sensational cast of creators, it’s a pleasure to – at long last – shepherd EC into the 21st century with all-new series and stories.”

“Seventy years ago, EC Comics redefined what comics could be with shocking, confrontational and brilliantly crafted stories that challenged the existential issues at the center of American life – censorship, racism, sexism, nuclear proliferation, and more. Today, those battles continue in alarming and pernicious new ways.,” said Oni Press Editor-in-Chief, Sierra Hahn. “What better time to resurrect the undying spirit of EC Comics – one of the most entertaining, subversive, and influential publishers of all time – with an  all-star cast of storytellers to examine today’s society through the lens that William Gaines and his legendary collaborators have left us.”

“There are few things more sacred to the canon of comic book history – and global pop culture – than EC Comics. The company’s audaciously inspired sensibilities have continuously echoed through nearly all facets of entertainment – like pieces of shrapnel embedded in American imagination,” said Oni Press President & Publisher Hunter Gorinson. “It’s both a huge honor and immense responsibility to be entrusted to work alongside the Gaines family in inhabiting EC’s indomitable spirit for a new generation. At a moment when we find ourselves confronting the same reactionary forces – injustice, inequality, and of course, censorship – that EC challenged head-on, we intend to write a new and powerful chapter that honors and expands one of the most important legacies the comic book medium has ever produced.”

In case you are not familiar with the rise and fall (and continued resurrection of) EC Comics – including the story of how a judge in 1956 ordered them to remove a black character from the story “Judgement Day”  -Wikipedia might be your best bet to start. 

EC’s original comics are available via a plethora of reprints – Dark Horse, TASCHEN, Fantagraphics, and IDW Publishing all have their books available in various formats and prices.

This is the first time EC has been brought back as an ongoing line of comics however. Developing!