- Weird Fantasy
caption=Al Williamson & Frank Frazetta cover, issue #21
date=May/June 1950 - November/December 1953
William Gaines Al Feldstein
"Weird Fantasy" was a science fiction anthology comic that was part of the
EC Comicsline in the early 1950s. The companion comic for "Weird Fantasy" was "Weird Science". Over a four-year span, "Weird Fantasy" ran for 22 issues, ending with the November-December 1953 issue.
The bi-monthly science-fiction comic, published by Bill Gaines and edited by
Al Feldstein, replaced romance comic "A Moon, A Girl... Romance" with the May/June 1950 issue. Although the title and format change took effect with issue 13, Gaines and Feldstein decided not to restart the numbering in order to save money on second class postage. The Post Office took note and, starting with issue #6, all the issues were numbered correctly. Because of this, "Weird Fantasy" #13" could refer to either the May/June 1950 issue or the actual 13th issue of the title, published in 1952. The same confusion exists for issues #14-17, #17 being the last issue published before EC reset the numbering.
Harry Harrisonclaims credit for originally turning Gaines on to the idea of publishing science fiction. cite book | year=1980 | title=The Complete EC Library: Weird Science Volume 1|publisher=Russ Cochran| language=English ] Harrison has stated that he and fellow artist Wally Woodwere interested in science fiction and supplied Gaines with a lot of science fiction material to read. [Giessman, Grant 'Foul Play" (Harper Collins, New York, NY, 2005) p. 124] It should be noted however that Harrison had no editorial control over the contents of the comic aside from his own stories, and would depart EC by the end of 1950.
Artists and Writers
Cover illustrations were by Feldstein with the exception of two by
Joe Orlando, one collaboration by Feldstein and Al Williamson, plus another collaboration by Williamson with Frank Frazetta. Artists who drew stories for this EC title were Feldstein, Frazetta, Williamson, Orlando, Wally Wood, Harvey Kurtzman, George Roussos, Harrison, Reed Crandall, Will Elder, Bernard Krigstein, Jack Kamen, John Severinand Mac Elkin. Writers in the early issues included Feldstein, Gaines, Kurtzman, Harrison and Gardner Fox. Gaines and Feldstein wrote nearly all stories from 1951 - 1953. [Von Bernewitz, Fred and Geissman, Grant "Tales of Terror: The EC Companion" (Gemstone Publishing and Fantagraphics Books, Timonium, MD & Seattle, WA, 2000) p. 135-140]
Well Known Stories and Themes
Creators Gaines and Feldstein made cameos in the stories "Cosmic Ray Bomb Explosion" (14, July-August 1950), "7 Year Old Genius" (7) and "The Expert" (14) and "The Ad" (14).
Issues 14 and 15 in 1952 ran "EC Quickies", a format featuring two similarly themed stories, each three or four pages, in the space usually devoted to a seven or eight-page story.
Another well known story was published in "Weird Fantasy" 17 in 1953. Al Williamson illustrated the story, "The Aliens" which features three aliens that head for Earth to prevent a nuclear war, but they arrive too late. Amid the devastation they find a copy of "Weird Fantasy" 17. When they read "The Aliens", they see that it had predicted their arrival. On the last page they see a picture of themselves looking at a comic book with a picture of themselves looking at... "ad infinitum".
Quite possibly the comic's most famous and controversial story was published in issue 18 in 1953. "Judgement Day" featured an astronaut who comes to a planet populated by orange and blue robots who hope to join the Galactic Republic. As he is brought around the planet, the astronaut, named Tarlton, realizes that blue robots are treated horribly and given fewer rights than the orange robots, despite the fact that they are identical except for the color of their exterior. Tarlton decides that because of this, the planet will not be allowed in the Galactic Republic. In the final panel Tarlton removes his helmet, revealing that he is black. This story would be chosen for reprinting approximately three years later in
Incredible Science Fictionwhich resulted in an argument that caused Gaines to quit comics altogether. cite book | year=1980 | title=The Complete EC Library: Weird Fantasy Volume 4|publisher=Russ Cochran| language=English ]
In 1952 EC published "Home to Stay" in "Weird Fantasy" 13 which was an unauthorized adaptation of two
Ray Bradburystories, "The Rocket Man" and "Kaleidoscope". After Bradbury contacted EC about this plagarism, they reached an agreement for EC to do authorized adaptations of Bradbury's short fiction, resulting in official adaptions that appeared in future issues. This includes "There Will Come Soft Rains" ("Weird Fantasy" 17), "Zero Hour" (18), "King of the Grey Spaces" (19), "I, Rocket" (20), "The Million Year Picnic" (21) and "The Silent Towns" (22). [Von Bernewitz, Fred and Geissman, Grant "Tales of Terror: The EC Companion" (Gemstone Publishing and Fantagraphics Books, Timonium, MD & Seattle, WA, 2000) p. 226] cite book | year=1980 | title=The Complete EC Library: Weird Fantasy Volume 3|publisher=Russ Cochran| language=English ]
As with the other EC comics edited by Feldstein, the stories in this comic were developed primarily based on Gaines reading a large amount of science fiction stories, and using them to come up with a "springboard" that he and Feldstein could use to turn into an entirely new story. In addition to the Bradbury stories, other specific story influences that have been found include the following: [Von Bernewitz, Fred and Geissman, Grant "Tales of Terror: The EC Companion" (Gemstone Publishing and Fantagraphics Books, Timonium, MD & Seattle, WA, 2000) p. 135-140] cite book | year=1980 | title=The Complete EC Library: Weird Fantasy Volume 2-3|publisher=Russ Cochran| language=English ]
*"Martian Infiltration"(issue 15  ) - Martin Pearson's "The Embassy"
*"The Last City"(issue 16  ) - Arthur L. Zagat's "The Lanson Screen"
*"Deadlock!"(issue 17  ) -
Murray Leinster's "First Contact"
*"The Duplicates"(issue 9) -
William F. Temple's "4-Sided Triangle"
*"A Timely Shock"(issue 10) -
Fritz Leiber's "Nice Girl With Five Husbands"
*"The Thing in the Jar"(issue 11) -
Ralph Milne Farley's "Liquid Life"
*"The End"(issue 13) -
Damon Knight's "Not With A Bang" and Miriam Allen deFord's "The Last Generation"
*"The Long Trip"(issue 15) -
A.E. van Vogt's "Far Centaurus"
*"He Who Waits"(issue 15) -
Manly Wade Wellman's "The Kelpie"
*"Mass Meeting"(issue 16) -
Malcolm Jameson's "Tricky Tonnage"
*"The Green Thing"(issue 16) - John Campbell's "Who Goes There?"
*"...For Us the Living"(issue 20) -
Ward Moore's "Bring the Jubilee"
EC's science fiction comics were never able to match the popularity of their horror comics like Tales from the Crypt, but Gaines and Feldstein kept them alive using the profits from their more popular titles. cite book | year=1981 | title=The Complete EC Library: Weird Science Volume 4|publisher=Russ Cochran| language=English ] In the EC Library reprints, comics historian Mark Evanier theorizes that the short story format, where no story was longer than 8 pages helped contribute to poor sales because the horror comics were much better suited for very short stories with shock endings than the science fiction comics. Evanier also ponders whether the very similar logo style of Weird Science and its companion comic Weird Fantasy as well as similar cover subjects contributed to lower sales due to customers thinking they already owned the issues on sale.cite book | year=1981 | title=The Complete EC Library: Weird Science Volume 3|publisher=Russ Cochran| language=English ] Historian Digby Diehl wondered whether having host characters like EC's horror comics would have helped the comics be more commercially successful. [Diehl, Digby 'Tales from the Crypt: The Official Archives" (St. Martin's Press, New York, NY, 1996) p. 34]
When the poor sales became too much to handle, Weird Fantasy combined with companion comic Weird Science in 1954 to become "
Weird Science-Fantasy". As discussed in an 'In Memoriam' feature in the final issue, every issue for the previous year and a half had lost money and EC had no choice but to combine the two comics into one. "Weird Science-Fantasy" ran for seven issues before a title change to " Incredible Science Fiction" for four issues.
As with many other EC titles, Weird Fantasy has been reprinted numerous times over the years. All 22 issues were published in black and white in four hardbound volumes in 1980 as part of Russ Cochran's Complete EC library. In addition, all 22 issues would be reprinted in comic form in the mid 1990's by
* [http://www.dereksantos.com/comicpage/presilver.html CBW Comic History]
* [http://members.aol.com/radiodrama/otrcomics.html "Horror from the Crypt of Fear" 9: "OTR: The Evil Influence Behind EC" by Kurt Kuersteiner]
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