Starting May 14th at the Jordan Schnitzer Museum of Art, an amazing display of original comic art will be shown and we hope you’ll join us in exploring comics publisher EC Comics. The exhibit runs May 14th to July 10th:
Aliens, Monsters, and Madmen celebrates the achievements of the most artistically and politically adventurous American comic-book company of the twentieth century: Bill Gaines’s Entertaining Comics, better known to fans all over the world as EC. Specializing in comic-book versions of popular fiction genres—particularly Crime, Horror, War, and Science Fiction—the company did far more than merely adapt the conventions of those genres to the comics medium. In the case of the now legendary Science Fiction and Horror titles, Weird Science and Tales from the Crypt, the creators at EC actively extended those genre conventions, while simultaneously shaping the imaginations of a subsequent generation of writers and filmmakers, such as Stephen King, George Lucas, John Landis, George Romero, and Steven Spielberg.
EC also broke new ground in the realm of satire as the publisher of MAD, an experimental humor comic that parodied the very stories that were elsewhere its stock in trade. EC Comics offered a controversial mix of sensationalism and social provocation, mixing titillating storylines and imagery with more overtly politically progressive material. Alongside comics about beautiful alien insect-women who dine on unsuspecting human astronauts, for example, they also tackled subjects that other popular media of the era avoided, including racism, corruption, and police brutality. As a result, the company attracted the disapproval of parents, politicians, and moralists everywhere, and was ultimately driven out of business as the result of a conservative “anti-comics” backlash in 1954. (Only MAD survived, by becoming a magazine in the mid-1950s; it remains in print today.)
The exhibition is curated by Ben Saunders, professor, Department of English. Saunders curated the JSMA’s previous comics exhibitions, Faster Than A Speeding Bullet: The Art of the Superhero (2009) and Good-Grief!: A Selection of 50 Years of Original Art from Charles M. Schulz’s Peanuts (2012).
“EC comics and its artwork now constitute highly valued collectibles,” says Saunders. “This show will be built around key examples of the original production art — unique and rarely seen objects of extraordinarily detailed craftsmanship by some of the most influential comics artists of the 20th century.”
Aliens, Monsters, and Madmen: The Art of EC Comics is sponsored by the Coeta and Donald Barker Changing Exhibitions Endowment, The Harold and Arlene Schnitzer CARE Foundation, a grant from the Oregon Arts Commission and the National Endowment for the Arts, a federal agency, Imagination International, Inc., Office of Academic Affairs, Oregon Humanities Center’s Endowment for Public Outreach in the Arts, Sciences, and Humanities, Philip and Sandra Piele, UO Comics and Cartoon Studies Minor, UO College Scholars Program, and JSMA members.