Weird Science (comic)


Weird Science (comic)

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title=Weird Science


caption=Al Feldstein cover, issue #13 (1950)
schedule=Bimonthly
format=Anthology
publisher=EC Comics
date=May/June 1950 - November/December 1953
issues=22
writers=
artists=
pencillers=
inkers=
letterers=
colorists=
creative_team_month=
creative_team_year=
creators=William Gaines
Al Feldstein

Weird Science was a science fiction anthology comic that was part of the EC Comics line in the early 1950s. The companion comic for "Weird Science" was "Weird Fantasy". Over a four-year span, the comic ran for 22 issues, ending with the November-December, 1953 issue.

Origin

The bi-monthly science-fiction comic, published by Bill Gaines and edited by Al Feldstein, replaced Western/romance comic "Saddle Romances" with the May/June 1950 issue. Although the title and format change took effect with issue 12, 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 #5, all the issues were numbered correctly. Because of this, "Weird Science #12" could refer to either the May/June 1950 issue, or the actual twelfth issue of the title, published in 1952. The same confusion exists for issues #13-15, #15 being the last issue published before EC reset the numbering.

Artist/Writer Harry Harrison claims 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 Wood were 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

Early cover illustrations were by Feldstein. Wally Wood took over as the regular cover illustrator in 1952. Wood was also the most dominant artist in the title, and for a period of time in 1952 did two stories per issue. The stories were drawn by Feldstein, Frank Frazetta, Al Williamson, Joe Orlando, George Evans, Harvey Kurtzman, George Roussos, Harrison, Will Elder, Jack Kamen, Sid Check and Jack Olesen. 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. 130-5]

Well Known Stories and Themes

As with many EC comics, Gaines and Feldstein used stories within "Weird Science" to teach moral lessons. cite book | year=1980 | title=The Complete EC Library: Weird Science Volume 2|publisher=Russ Cochran| language=English ] For example, issue 8's 'The Probers' features a space shuttle doctor who pays no mind to dissecting various animals, only to end up on an alien planet where aliens plan to dissect him! Issue 11's 'The Worm Turns' focuses on astronauts having fun with mexican jumping beans but face the exact same situation when they hide in a piece of hollowed out fruit on an alien world and are found by a giant alien. Issue 13's 'He Walked Among Us' attacked the hypocricy of organized religion and those in power using it by telling the story of a Jesus like astronaut on an alien world who helps the poor but is killed by those in power, causing a religion that worships him to form.cite book | year=1980 | title=The Complete EC Library: Weird Science Volume 3|publisher=Russ Cochran| language=English ]

Gaines and Feldstein made a cameo in "Chewed Out" (#12). Many EC staffers made cameos in "EC Confidential" (#21).

Influences

"Weird Science" featured a number of Ray Bradbury adaptations after he and EC came to an agreement in 1952. These stories included "The Long Years" (#17), "Mars is Heaven" (#18), "The One Who Waits" (#19), "Surprise Package" (#20), "Punishment Without Crime" (#21) and "Outcast of the Stars" (#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]

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. 130-5]

*"Lost in the Microcosm"(issue 12 [1950] ) - Henry Hasse's "He Who Shrank"
*"The Micro Rase"(issue 13 [1950] ) - Edmond Hamilton's "Fessenden's Worlds"
*"The Sounds from Another World"(issue 14 [1950] ) - Roald Dahl's "The Sound Machine"
*"Machine from Nowhere"(issue 14 [1950] ) - Maurice Hugi's "Mechanical Mouse"
*"Divide and Conquer"(issue 6) - Donald Wandrei's "A Scientist Divides"
*"Monster From the Fourth Dimension"(issue 7) - Donald Wandrei's "A Monster From Nowhere"
*"The Martian Monster"(issue 9) - Anthony Boucher's "Mr. Lupescu"
*"Why Papa Left Home"(issue 11) - Charles Harness's "Child by Chronos"
*"Chewed Out!"(issue 12) - Katherine McLean's "Pictures Don't Lie!"
*"Say Your Prayers"(issue 13) - Anthony Boucher's "Expedition"
*"Keyed Up!"(issue 19) - Duncan Munro's "U-Turn"

Demise

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 Science combined with companion comic Weird Fantasy in 1954 to become "Weird Science-Fantasy". As discussed in an 'In Memoriam' feature in the final issue, it was stated that every issue for the previous year and a half lost money and they 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.

Media Adaptions

"Weird Science" was a 1985 movie produced by Joel Silver, who acquired film rights to EC Comics in the early 1980s. The plot of the 1985 "Weird Science" film is an expansion and modernization of the basic premise in Al Feldstein's story "Made of the Future" in the fifth issue.

HBO's Perversions of Science is a science fiction/horror television series based on the Weird Science comic books.

Issue guide

Reprints

As with many other EC titles, Weird Science 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 Gemstone Publishing. Currently, Weird Science is part of another reprint line, the EC Archives, featuring full color reprints in what will eventually be four hardbound volumes.

References


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