Sometimes, a comic is just a comic.  But other times, it’s incredibly memorable for one amazing moment.  This is one of the latter.  Your Major Spoilers (Retro) Review of Weird Fantasy #15 awaits!


Writer: Bill Gaines/Al Feldstein
Penciler: Joe Orlando/Al Williamson/Jack Kamen
Inker: Joe Orlando/Al Williamson/Jack Kamen
Colorist: Marie Severin
Letterer: Jim Wroten
Editor: Al Feldstein
Publisher: EC Comics
Cover Price: 10 Cents
Current Near-Mint Pricing: $250.00 

Previously in Weird FantasyFounded in 1944, when Maxwell Gaines left All-American Comics, EC originally stood for “Educational Comics.”  Gaines had been instruments in some of the earliest true comic books ever made, and wanted to create books about science, history and the Bible to be distributed through schools and churches.  Gaines’ tragic death in 1947 left his son Bill in charge of things, and he proceeded to rename his new company Entertaining Comics.  Bill’s concept was more successful than Max’s, and EC quickly became a big name in horror, crime, science fiction and military comics.  They even mixed and matched, as Weird Science combines sci-fi and suspense into one.

To wit, the crew of an elderly mining craft, sailing through the galactic void…

Pay attention to crewman Kreeger’s story about the salad.  That’s foreshadowing, my friends, and it’s your key to quality literature.  The ship is overrun with roaches, to the revulsion (TITLE DROP!) of the crew, but Commander Larson wonders if there’s something more than just mindless swarming vermin happening, that perhaps the bugs are evolving, becoming smarter.  What if, he wondered, they became the  masters of the Earth rather than mankind?  His musings are interrupted by the news that a gyro housing is malfunctioning, thanks to roaches eating through the insulation on the housing… and now, they’re going to crash!

Joe Orlando’s art is always interesting, but I’ve never seen his pencils like this.  There seems to be an lot of Wally Wood’s influence in these pages, with tight figure work that sometimes reminds me of Jack Kirby.  It’s really good stuff.  The crew manages to land on a planet with atmosphere, but insect-wonderer Commander Larson is killed in the crash.  Crewmen Kreeger and Bellman make their way out into the strange jungle, fighting off the local fauna before realizing something strange about their new surroundings.

Before they can get their bearings, the largest creature of all arrives, scooping them up, along with a huge pile of vegetation.  A monstrous alien half a mile tall gathers them up, reminding Kreeger to finish his story about his terrible salad experience.

Um… Spoilerites with weak stomachs might want to look away.

“Waiter! There’s a man in my soup!”  As a young’n, I remember reading some old-school horror comics from (I think) the grade school library, and there are only two or three that I remember.  One featured a pool hustler who was killed on a giant alien pool table, and the other was this one.  It’s not exactly a Rod Serling classic, but it’s memorable, well-written, well-drawn and inexplicable, much like Weird Fantasy itself.  The rest of this issue features Al Williamson doing straight-up space opera, a matched pair of stories with TWO clever twist endings, Jack Kamen art on a science-fiction love story and Williamson again, on a tale mixing the uncanny with the historical.

Still, perhaps the most interesting part of this issue is the house ad for EC’s newest comic book sensation!

The story of MAD , later MAD Magazine is a lot more than any single Retro Review could handle, but suffice to say that it was a revelation, spawning dozens of imitators and outlasting EC Comics itself by decades.  All in all, Weird Fantasy #15 is the perfect example of how EC Comics earned its legendary status, providing extraordinary entertainment for a dime and haunting me since the fourth grade, earning 4 out of 5 stars overall. 

I sometimes wonder why my grade school those old comics in the first place, but I guess that’s what Max Gaines founded EC for in the first place.

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Gaines and Feldstein bring the inventive stories, Kamen, Williamson and Joe Orlando bring the quality art, making for an issue that I still remember vividly decades after encountering it. If you've never read classic EC, you're missing out.

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Once upon a time, there was a young nerd from the Midwest, who loved Matter-Eater Lad and the McKenzie Brothers... If pop culture were a maze, Matthew would be the Minotaur at its center. Were it a mall, he'd be the Food Court. Were it a parking lot, he’d be the distant Cart Corral where the weird kids gather to smoke, but that’s not important right now... Matthew enjoys body surfing (so long as the bodies are fresh), writing in the third person, and dark-eyed women. Amongst his weaponry are such diverse elements as: Fear! Surprise! Ruthless efficiency! An almost fanatical devotion to pop culture! And a nice red uniform.

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