From The Scoop: E.C. Comics And The National E.C. Fan-Addict Club
From the March 2 issue of Gemstone Publishing's The Scoop:
During the late 1940s and into the 1950s, the superhero genre of comic books was suffering a serious decline in readership. But that decline paved the way for other genres to take hold. It was during this time that readers saw the rise of western, science fiction, military and horror comics. Satire and spoofs were all the rage, and readers just devoured it. They were looking to be entertained, and that's just what Entertaining Comics did. Better known as E.C. Comics, the publisher of such comic books, it was founded by Maxwell Gaines, and later the reins were handed over to his son, William.
William Gaines helped mold the company into one of the most popular comic book publishers of the day, encouraging reader feedback with letters to the editor pages in the comics and through the formation of the National E.C. Fan-Addict Club. Membership to this club was in line with E.C.'s sense of humor as the whole kit was smattered with the same satirical sensibilities as their comic books.
Shipped in a plain envelope marked with the E.C. logo, the membership kit to the club included a colorful membership certificate featuring a border comprised of images of E.C. characters The Crypt-Keeper, The Vault-Keeper and The Old Witch (In recognition of E.C.'s popular horror comics Tales From The Crypt, Tales From The Vault and The Haunt of Fear.); as well as science fiction characters, aliens and military characters. Satirical spoofs of Tarzan and the Lone Ranger are also present. The certificate reads:
"The National E.C. Fan-Addict Club in solemn recognition of his/her/its stubborn, hopeless, and pitiful addiction to E.C. magazines, does hereby grudgingly bestow on ______ a Life Membership, together with such rights, privileges, and benefits (be they what they may) with ordinarily accompany such membership (be that what it may)"
The kit also came with a letter, membership card and "EC Fan-Addict Club *Mad Member*" patch and bronze badge that read "EC Fan-Addict." The kit was originally issued in 1953, but was later re-issued.
In 1954, the publication of Seduction of the Innocent by Dr. Fredric Wertham brought hard times on comic books. In an attempt to link comic books to juvenile delinquency, Wertham's efforts brought comic publishers under the magnifying lens. E.C. bore the brunt of the attack, with several of its publications being noted as examples of what was "wrong" with comic books and why children shouldn't be exposed to them. This and the following Senate Subcommittee on Juvenile Delinquency hearings forced Gaines to make the decision to abandon publication of comic books and instead focus of the satirical MAD Magazine, which continues to this day.
While it's been over 50 years since a new E.C. comic has seen publication, they are still popular among collectors, those who remember them from their heyday and new readers whose parents read them as children. Now that's Entertaining Comics!
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