EC Comics often gets a bad wrap when it comes to the debate over whether comics are considered a tasteful, if even distinguished at all, form of art. While EC has received an immense amount of criticism for its graphic content, there have been scholarly articles published in favor of appreciating what EC Comics offered to the public.
The peer-reviewed article, “A War Like Any Other . . . Or Nobler?: The Great War in the EC Comics,” by Jean-Matthieu Méon discusses the carefully crafted war comics that EC published under editor Harvey Kurtzman. Méon studies a corpus of 178 comics that were produced by EC comics and edited by Harvey Kurtzman. He categorizes each comic into one of several wars or time frames and then analyzes each series by author, illustrator, time, and theme. The most common theme was aerial warfare.
Through a careful examination of the corpus and through quotes from Kurtzman, the author argues that these war comics were masterpieces, and the first of its kind, to depict the true nature of war. He argues that war was previously glorified and did not show the true brutality of it, nor the real courage many soldiers possessed. Méon explains that Kurtzman actually spent hours researching for his comics, rather than coming up with a fake story, the editor actually talked with soldiers and studied weaponry and tactics. It was important that he expressed a thorough history to the children reading these comics, not just a colorful facade for them to look at.
Though the war comics produced by EC still followed the same sort of formula that the other EC comics followed, Kurtzman added a his own flare to them. Méon states, “Most of the stories were built around a ‘shock’ or ‘punch ending’. Yet, in this comic-book line, the war comics formed a speciﬁc subset, uniﬁed by the strong involvement of their editor Harvey Kurtzman” (Méon Page 65). Of course these comics had to have a story line, after all they are an entertainment source. Still, however, Kurtzman managed to insert kernels of truth and realism into these plots. I think this is why so many of the science fiction EC comics did well. They represented a more realistic universe for children to relate to.
Overall, this article is enlightening and brings such strong credibility to EC Comics. EC Comics brought a sort of realism to the comic world that a lot of other comic companies did not at the time. The article shows the bold nature of EC Comics and the brilliance of the people behind them. The citation for the article is below.
A War Like Any Other . . . Or Nobler?: The Great War in the EC Comics. Méon, Jean-Matthieu. European Comic Art; Brooklyn Vol. 8, Iss. 2, (Autumn 2015): 61–82. DOI:10.3167/eca.2015.080204