What we have is the second issue of World Press EXTRA! #2: casualties of a bygone golden age drama; surviving testaments to the very controversy of an unfortunate chapter in America's history, particularly how it literally came to re-shape & define the modern comics industry in America. It's a very rare piece of comic that is available in factory sealed mint condition & never been used/opened at all. Being sold for more than $150 on ebay (even in used condition).
EC COMICS’ LEGACY
Entertaining Comics, a/k/a EC Comics (EC), was a comic book publisher originally specializing in horror fiction, crime fiction, satire, military fiction & science fiction from the 1940s through the mid-1950s, and most notably, the now legendary Tales from the Crypt and Shock SuspenStories series, as well as the perennial MAD Magazine. In 1954-55, ever mounting censorship pressures prompted EC to concentrate on the humor magazine MAD,ultimately transforming it into the company's greatest success. EC was privately owned by Max Gaines and later, during its period of censorship & notoriety, by his son, William Gaines, and was eventually absorbed into the same corporation that came to purchase DC Comics & Warner Brothers.
In its heyday, EC published distinct lines of titles, most notorious of which were its horror books, Tales from the Crypt, The Vault of Horror and The Haunt of Fear. These titles reveled in a gruesome joie de vivre, with grimly ironic fates meted out to many of the stories' protagonists. While the company's war comics, Frontline Combat and Two-Fisted Tales, often featured weary-eyed, un-heroic stories out of step with the jingoistic times. The groundbreaking Shock Suspenstories, on the other hand, tackled weighty & then taboo issues such as racism, sex, drug abuse and a dystopian American way of life. EC’s publishers, however, always claimed to be proudest of their science fiction titles; with Weird Science and Weird Fantasy publishing stories far afield from the “space opera” fare then common to such titles as Fiction House’s Planet Comics, and EC’s Crime SuspenStories in particular, having many parallels with 1940-50’s era film noir.
WORLD PRESS EXTRA!
Beginning in the late 1940s, the comic book industry became the target of ever-increasing public criticism for the content of comic books and their potentially harmful effects on children. The problem came to a head in 1948 with the publication by Dr. Frederic Wertham of two articles: "Horror in the Nursery" (in Collier’s) and "The Psychopathology of Comic Books" (in the American Journal of Psychotherapy). As a result and a pre-emptive measure, the industry trade group, the Association of Comics Magazine Publishers, was formed in 1948, but proved ineffectual. EC left the association in 1950 after EC’s Gaines had an argument with its executive director over the newly proposed ACMP code. In 1954, the publication of Wertham's Seduction of the Innocent and a highly publicized Congressional Committee hearing on juvenile delinquency, cast comic books in an especially poor light. At the same time, a federal investigation led to a shakeup in the distribution companies that delivered comic books and pulp magazines across America. This “perfect storm” of events finally came to a head in late 1954, quickly resulting in plummeting comics sales, and culminating in the bankruptcy of many publishers.
EC’s Gaines met with his fellow publishers and proposed that the comic book industry mount a unified front to fight against outside censorship and repair the industry's damaged reputation. The result was the formation of the Comics Magazine Association of America and its Comics Code Authority (CCA) in September 1954. The CCA code expanded on its 1948 predecessor ACMP's restrictions. Unlike the previous ACMP, however, the CCA code was rigorously enforced, with ALL comics requiring code approval prior to their publication. Among the Code's new rules were that no comic book title could use the words "horror" or "terror" or "weird" on its cover. This ironic twist, i.e. inadvertent “self-censorship,” not being what he’d intended, prompted EC’s Gaines to boycott the very CCA association he’d advocated.
With distributors now refusing to handle many of his comics, EC Publisher Gaines famously & unceremoniously ended publication of his top three horror and two SuspenStory titles on September 14, 1954. EC instead shifted its focus to a line of more realistic comic book titles, including World Press EXTRA!, M.D. and Psychoanalysis(known as the New Direction line). It also renamed its remaining science-fiction comics. Since the initial New Direction line issues (e.g. World Press EXTRA! #1) did not carry the new Comics Code (CCA) seal, wholesalers & newsstands refused to carry them. After consulting with his staff, Gaines reluctantly started submitting his comics to the Comics Code (CCA). Thereafter, all the New Direction line titles carried the seal starting with the second issue. This attempted revamp by EC, however, failed commercially and after the fifth issues, all the EC New Direction line titles were also canceled.