Calling Out Racism in EC Comics’ “Shock SuspenStories”

Recently, I’ve started to read a good amount of 1950s era EC Comics. There, I came across the Shock SuspenStories (1952-January 1955). Shock SuspenStories was part of a larger group of books that EC’s Bill Gaines published throughout the era. The other series included Tales from the Crypt, The Vault of Horror, Weird Science, and Two-Fisted Tales. Each issue of Shock SuspenStories consisted of stories that encompassed various genres from science fiction and horror to crime and war stories making it a sort of sampler for EC Comics. Ultimately, Shock SuspenStories provided a space for creators at EC Comics to tackle issues such as racism and prejudice. The work of Al Feldstein (writer) and Wally Wood (art) serve as a good example of this moment, specifically their stories “The Guilty,” “Hate!,” and “Under Cover!”

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Literacy in Kyle Baker’s “Nat Turner”

In his preface to the graphic novel Nat Turner, Kyle Baker talks about his reasons for wanting to tell Turner’s story through the medium of comics. He states hat “[c]omic books/graphic novels are a visual medium, so it’s important to choose a subject with opportunities for compelling graphics.” The story of Nat Turner’s rebellion in 1831 provides just that opportunity. More importantly, Baker wanted to fill in the historical gaps that appear about Turner, specifically imagining the historical incidents that led him to lead the rebellion. Baker, in this manner, seeks to do what multiple authors work to do, fill in the gaps. He begins his preface by noting the seemingly lack of information about Turner in history books, typically a paragraph, yet the continued reference to Turner as an inspiration and influence of activists such as Frederick Douglass, Maclom X, and Harriett Tubman.

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Surveillance in “Bitch Planet”

Last post, I examined a couple of issues that I kept thinking about while reading Bitch Planet‘s “The Secret Origin of Penny Rolle.” Today, I want to expand upon some of those ideas and look at the ways that the comic addresses the increased nature of surveillance in our world. This occurs throughout almost every issue of Bitch Planet; however, I just want to focus on a couple of important moments: one from “The Secret Origin of Penny Rolle” and one from issue #7, “President Bitch: Part One.” Each of these moments portrays different aspects of living within a surveillance state, and each calls upon us to ask what we give up by living in such a position.

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