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Jason Aaron among creators resurrecting EC Comics for Oni Press

As announced today by the New York Times and the Hollywood Reporter, legendary horror and sci fi publisher EC Comics will be returning to the world of comics with all new anthology titles, courtesy of Oni Press. And Jason Aaron will be among the creators contributing new stories.

From the Hollywood Reporter:

The first book from the new line will be Epitaphs From the Abyss, a horror title debuting in July, followed by sci-fi comic Cruel Universe in August. The new comics will keep the anthology format with creative teams rotating in and out.

The names involved include writers such as Jason Aaron (Thor), Brian Azzarello (100 Bullets), Rodney Barnes (Killadelphia) Christopher Cantwell (Briar), Chris Condon (That Texas Blood), Matt Kindt (BRZRKR) among others. Among the artists are Kano (Immortal Iron Fist), Peter Krause (Irredeemable), Leomacs (Rogues), Malachi Ward (Black Hammer: The End), and Dustin Weaver (Avengers).

Buttressing the creative is designer Rian Hughes (The Multiversity)  and cover artists Lee Bermejo (Batman: Damned), Greg Smallwood (The Human Target), J.H. Williams III (Sandman: Overture). More are expected to be named in the months ahead under the oversight of Oni’s newly-installed editor-in-chief Sierra Hahn.

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Update -- Here's Oni's official press release:

Oni Press – the multiple Eisner and Harvey Award-winning publisher of groundbreaking comics and graphic fiction for more than 25 years – is proud to announce a brand-new publishing partnership with William M. Gaines Agent, Inc. that will see the full-fledged return of EC Comics to comic shop and bookstore shelves worldwide with a slate of all-new series beginning in the summer of 2024.

Beginning with EPITAPHS FROM THE ABYSS #1 in July and CRUEL UNIVERSE #1 in August – the first official EC Comics series produced in nearly seven decades – Oni’s ambitious EC Comics publishing program will be overseen by Oni Press President & Publisher Hunter Gorinson and Editor-in-Chief Sierra Hahn in partnership with Cathy Gaines Mifsud and Corey Mifsud, the daughter and grandson of legendary EC Publisher William M. Gaines and administrators of William M. Gaines Agent, Inc.

“As my father said, ‘Only in the bounds of good taste!’ and I’m so excited to exhibit EC’s good taste with Oni Press, who have distinguished themselves with both an award-winning library of comics and graphic novels and a passionate understanding of EC’s singular role in shaping comics history,” said Cathy Gaines Mifsud, President of William M. Gaines Agent, Inc.

“EC Comics is no stranger to a good comeback story! We’re thrilled to make this return with Oni Press and usher the classic EC sensibilities into the modern world,” said Corey Mifsud, Executive Director of William M. Gaines Agent, Inc. “It’s always been our dream to one day bring the fearless creative spirit of EC to a new generation. Working hand-in-hand with Oni’s award-winning team and a sensational cast of creators, it’s a pleasure to – at long last – shepherd EC into the 21st century with all-new series and stories.”

Edited by Hahn, Oni’s curated line of EC titles – which will include at least two series on a monthly basis from July 2024 onward in the genres of horror, science fiction, fantasy, and more – will feature contributions from a rotating cast of high-profile comics talents that includes writers Jason Aaron (Thor, Southern Bastards), Brian Azzarello (Batman: Damned, 100 Bullets), Rodney Barnes (Killadelphia), Corinna Bechko (Invisible Republic), Cullen Bunn (The Sixth Gun), Christopher Cantwell (Briar), Cecil Castellucci (Shade the Changing Girl), Chris Condon (That Texas Blood), Joshua Hale Fialkov (The Bunker), J. Holtham (AMC’s The Handmaid’s Tale), Jeff Jensen (HBO’s Watchmen, Green River Killer), Matt Kindt (BRZRKR, Mind MGMT), Sean Lewis (King Spawn), Stephanie Phillips (Grim), Jay Stephens (Dwellings), Zac Thompson (Cemetery Kids Don’t Die), Ben H. Winters (CBS’ Tracker), and more; artists Kano (Gotham Central, Immortal Iron Fist), Peter Krause (Irredeemable), Leomacs (Rogues), Malachi Ward (Black Hammer: The End), Dustin Weaver (Avengers, Paklis), and more; designer Rian Hughes (The Multiversity); alongside covers from Lee Bermejo (A Vicious Circle, Batman: Damned), Greg Smallwood (The Human Target), J.H. Williams III (Sandman: Overture, Promethea), and more to be revealed in the weeks and months ahead.

“Seventy years ago, EC Comics redefined what comics could be with shocking, confrontational and brilliantly crafted stories that challenged the existential issues at the center of American life – censorship, racism, sexism, nuclear proliferation, and more. Today, those battles continue in alarming and pernicious new ways,” said Oni Press Editor-in-Chief, Sierra Hahn. “What better time to resurrect the undying spirit of EC Comics – one of the most entertaining, subversive, and influential publishers of all time – with an all-star cast of storytellers to examine today’s society through the lens that William Gaines and his legendary collaborators have left us.”

Founded by M.C. “Max” Gaines – often cited as one of the original creators of the comic book format – as “Educational Comics” in 1944, EC spearheaded a watershed evolution in the craft, quality, and power of the comics medium under Max’s son, William M. Gaines, following the elder Gaines’ sudden death in 1947. Rechristening his father’s creation as “Entertaining Comics,” publisher, editor, and writer William M. Gaines recruited one of the most legendary creative stables in the history of the comics medium – including future Eisner Hall of Fame inductees Johnny Craig, Reed Crandall, Jack Davis, Will Elder, Al Feldstein, Frank Frazetta, Bernard Krigstein, Harvey Kurtzman, Joe Orlando, John Severin, Marie Severin, Al Williamson, Wally Wood, and many more – to oversee the creation of a revolutionary slate of new series that would soon grow to include TALES FROM THE CRYPT, MAD MAGAZINE, WEIRD SCIENCE, TWO-FISTED TALES, and more.

Widely celebrated for fearlessly confrontational stories that were as creatively innovative as they were culturally subversive – confronting racial and gender inequality, militarism, and environmental degradation in ways that would anticipate both the burgeoning counterculture and Civil Rights movements – EC’s urge to probe the darkness lurking beyond the edges of post-war America through tales of horror, science fiction, humor, and war earned the company millions of readers … and established a new high watermark for one of the first definitively American artforms: the comic book.

However, EC’s reign at the forefront of the American comic book industry – a period during which it eclipsed Marvel, DC, and Archie with sales of 10 million comics per year – would come crashing down in 1954 as an anti-comics moral panic swept America, inspiring book burnings, police surveillance, and a Congressional investigation that would see William M. Gaines’ testimony broadcast live in households across the country. This pro-censorship movement soon culminated in the creation of the Comics Code Authority, a sanitizing regulatory group whose guidelines were specifically tailored to remove EC’s comics from newsstands. EC’s final comics – until now – were published in 1956, and the hugely popular MAD was re-formatted as a magazine to escape Code scrutiny. Even so, the untimely death of EC could not erase the company’s far-reaching impact, having already inspired a young generation of readers – including John Carpenter, Guillermo del Toro, Matt Groening, James Gunn, George Lucas, Stephen King, George R.R. Martin, The Ramones, George Romero, Steven Spielberg, and hundreds more – who have cited EC’s iconoclastic brand of storytelling as a deep and primordial influence.

“There are few things more sacred to the canon of comic book history – and global pop culture – than EC Comics. The company’s audaciously inspired sensibilities have continuously echoed through nearly all facets of entertainment – like pieces of shrapnel embedded in American imagination,” said Oni Press President & Publisher Hunter Gorinson. “It’s both a huge honor and immense responsibility to be entrusted to work alongside the Gaines family in inhabiting EC’s indomitable spirit for a new generation. At a moment when we find ourselves confronting the same reactionary forces – injustice, inequality, and of course, censorship – that EC challenged head-on, we intend to write a new and powerful chapter that honors and expands one of the most important legacies the comic book medium has ever produced.”

Oni Press’ first two new EC titles – EPITAPHS FROM THE ABYSS and CRUEL UNIVERSE, a pair of horror and science anthologies in the classic EC mold – will debut in July and August 2024, respectively, before the publisher introduces more series in genres and formats that will expand the scope and scale of the EC publishing line in ways never before attempted.


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