Review | Reed Crandall’s EC Stories Artist’s Edition

Reed Crandall was one of the greatest comic artists of the Golden Age. His work graced the covers and pages of National Comics (drawing the iconic Uncle Sam, as well as Blackhawk, Doll Man and many others). Legendary for his remarkable talents as a draftsman, he was the quintessential “Artist’s Artist.”

This Artist’s Edition focuses on Crandall’s remarkable EC Comics stories, including many that are outright classics. And like all the award-winning Artist’s Editions, this book was scanned entirely from the original art—if you are a fan of Crandall’s work, there IS NO better way to view it!

As with all original artist’s gallery editions this is a collection of classic comic material and I’ll be reviewing the book and not the story. For a complete list of all current and announced editions, with review links, please visit our Index.

Another EC Stories artist’s edition, this time from the superb Reed Crandall. Twenty-two complete stories, two covers and a one page biography. The level of detail in some of the stories, such as The Firebug, is astounding. A masterful use of inks.

Scans are clear and detailed. No soft or blurry panels. Margin notes are just page and story numbers along with measurements. The comics code authority stamps are always fun. Blacks are uniform with no visible gradients. The pages have aged surprisingly well, with page colours from off white to mild yellowing.

Dahlk’s design is clean and effective.The blue and yellow colour scheme pops throughout, along with the page layouts of boxes of colour and images. The enlarged images are well defined.

Production is excellent, as we’ve come to expect from IDW. Sewn binding of heavy matte paper. The book comes shrinkwrapped in a cardboard case with a small colour sticker showing cover and UPC.

Please Scott Dunbier, please continue to collect art and publish EC Stories artist’s editions.



Reed Crandall EC Stories Artist Ed HC – $120.00

Retail Price: $150.00
You Save: $30.00

Scott VanderPloeg Written by:

Editor-In-Chief. Scott works in I.T. but lives to eat and read. His other ramblings can be found at eBabble. Art collection at Comic Art Fans. Joe Shuster Awards Harry Kremer coordinator.

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3 Comments

  1. Eisnein
    May 24, 2017

    Another great overview, and I second that final plea. Also: an EC: War Stories AE starring Severin & Elder, with material from Wood, Davis, & Kurtzman, is an absolute must. Severin & Elder only had one story between both of the ‘Best of EC’ AE’s, and it stole the show, IMO.

  2. Steve V.
    May 24, 2017

    The problem with artist editions is that they publish whatever is available. If art surfaces, it gets printed in original artist edition. But it not always the best. Artists often had their best art destroyed. So whst surfaces may be what is available.

    I do like Reed Crandall. I think however horror was not his best work. His historical costume work was better.

    Mr. Crandall was employed at some of the top publishers in the field, turning out excellent work for the Eisner-Iger shop, for Quality Comics, for E.C. Comics, and at the last worked with one of the finest editors in the field, Archie Goodwin, on the Warren black and white books, Creepy, Eerie, and Blazing Combat. He was born in Winslow, Indiana on February 22, 1917.

    After finishing his formal art training at the Cleveland School of Art, he moved to New York where he worked briefly for a children’s book publisher, then for the NEA newspaper syndicate, and then finally at the Eisner-Iger shop in Manhattan, where he contributed top-notch material for Fiction House (Planet Comics, Jumbo, Wings, Jungle), and Quality comic books.

    “Reed Crandalls stuff was so great, every time he came into the shop we all stopped to look at his stuff.” Iger eventually had to arrange things so that the artist worked at home rather than at the studio (which was the common practice in those days). Later in 1941 Crandall got noticed by Quality Comics head Everett “Busy” Arnold, who persuaded Eisner and Iger to let Crandall work exclusively on Quality material. Arnold, who published Will (The Spirit) Eisner, Jack Cole, and Lou (Hit Comics) Fine was greatly impressed by the newcomer. “I always thought my artists over the years were the finest in the business,” Arnold said, “And I rate Crandall as the best man I ever had.”

    At Quality Crandall drew The Ray, Dollman, Hercules and Firebrand. Eventually Arnold turned over one of the first teams in comics, The Blackhawks, to the artist. First created by Will Eisner and illustrated by Chuck Cuidera, Blackhawk was turned by Reed Crandall into a much sought-after collector’s item in the comics field, with some issues valued highly..

    As Jim Steranko remarked in his History of the Comics, “Crandall turned it (Blackhawk) into a classic, a work of major importance and lasting value…”

    Not only did Blackhawk require authentic depictions of planes, tanks, and weapons, but also the ability to draw exciting
    “group” shots. Crandall was more than equal to the task. Influenced by illustrator giants like N.C.Wyeth, Howard Pyle, and James Montgomery Flagg, his stories were startlingly realistic, leaning more toward classic illustration than comic book cartooning.
    After a short stint in the Army Air Force, Crandall returned to the series and stuck with it until 1953, doing almost all the covers for the last four years, and then went over to Entertaining Comics, where his fine-lined technique would be put to good use in E.C. ‘s crime, horror, and science fiction titles. Bill Gaines once said, “Crandall walked in; he was the last walk- in, he said, ‘”I’m Reed Crandall.” I said, ‘So what took you so long? We’ve been sitting here waiting for you.”

    Crandall was perfect for E.C.’s science fiction titles and proved it with his story for the last issue of Weird Fantasy, Ray Bradbury’s “The Silent Towns.” The artist’s grimly realistic style also lit up the last year of E.C.’s two crime comics.

    Although Crandall was only to work a relatively short time for E.C. (which was killed by the anti-horror comic backlash) his work for titles like Piracy and their Picto-Fiction magazine Terror Illustrated lit up the last New Direction books. During roughly the same period, Crandall also contributed science fiction stories (Interplanetary Police) for the Catholic Guild’s weekly comic Treasure Chest,a gig which would last for a little over ten years.

    Treasure Chest helped him keep alfoat in the late fifties, when, thanks to the comics’ crash, times were tight. Crandall managed to do work for the low-paying Classics Illustrated (which was also using art by other E.C. alumni like Evans, Williamson, Orlando, and Ingles), worked for Buster Brown Comics, a shoe store giveaway, and later drew stories for Gold Key’s Twilight Zone (1961-1965).

    The early sixties also saw him doing work for Wally Wood’s Tower Comics, and some of his very best work for the black and white Warren magazines. He, along with Frank Frazetta and Roy Krenkel, also produced a series of fantasy illustrations for the Edgar Rice Burroughs novels being produced by Canaveral Books (all his Canaveral work was later collected in Russ Cochran’s Edgar Rice Burroughs Library of Illustration, Vol. 3, 1984, and in Richard Lupoff’s Edgar Rice Burroughs: Master of Adventure). After his friend Al Williamson left King Comics’ Flash Gordon, Crandall drew several issues of the series.

    (BLAZING COMBAT #4 panel from Goodwin/Crandall story, “Thermopylae!”)
    It was also during the sixties when Crandall was forced to leave New York to care for his ailing mother in Wichita. Isolated and out of the comics industry loop, Crandall developed a drinking problem. After the death of his mother the artist was able to beat alcoholism, but his health was gone and his drawing ability suffered accordingly.

    His last published story appeared in 1973 for Creepy #54 (“This Graveyard is Not Deserted”). In 1974 he took a job as a night watchman and janitor for Pizza Hut until suffering a stroke later that year at age 57. Crandall spent the last eight years of his life in a nursing home until a fatal heart attack ended that on September 13, 1982.

    Too bad the best art is unavailable. Artists editions only publish pages that hit market.

    The problem with artist editions is that they publish whatever is available. If art surfaces, it gets printed in original artist edition. But it not always the best. Artists often had their best art lost.. Stories get broken up. So whst surfaces may be what is available making artist editions a print of pages sold at auction!

  3. Eisnein
    May 25, 2017

    Yeah, Reed Crandall was one of the most talented EC and Warren artists, but he wasn’t one of the more popular names, so I was pleasantly surprised to see an AE devoted to his EC stories… especially since I’m not a fan of Graham Ingels.

    As far as AE’s, it definitely seems like the Graphitti Design philosophy is ‘print whatever you’ve got’, even though the one book they’ve ‘got’ that would make a fantastic book, David Mazzuchelli’s Batman: Year One, is clearly on hold. DC wants to give the recently released Absolute edition of B:Y1 a chance to sell, even though it’s a format the <100=page story was ill-suited for. The decision to include the same material repeated in two volumes: the first an over-sized version of the recolored collected edition, and the second reprinting the original, newsprint edition, complete with the shitty coloring that merited the recoloring you get in the first volume. It's a stupid idea, and it doesn't help that it's more expensive than many fine Absolute editions that collect 600+ pages of material. I'm a bit annoyed that this stupid Absolute edition is keeping an excellent AE from seeing print, because the original art has been scanned by Mazzuchelli, and it's ready to go.

    The first three books Fantagraphics chose for their studio line, on the other hand, has less to do with ease or availability, IMO, and more to do with representing the artists they believe should be showcased. Though they've published all three titles in previous incarnations, with editions of Prince Valiant and Love & Rockets dating back to the company's first forays as a publisher, they've published thousands of comics in the last four decades, many of hundreds of which merit an AE; Prince Valiant, Black Hole and Love & Rockets are three of the greatest titles in comics history, but I doubt they were the easiest choices… which might be why none of their books have made it to press yet.

    The Jaime Hernandez book is likely the easiest of the three, due to the 40-year long working relationship between artist and publisher, Jaime's prolific output, and his tendency to craft loosely-structured narratives from largely self-contained episodic stories. His original art is also smaller than most, while the Prince Valiant will be a couple inches taller and wider than the largest Artist's Editions. All of those factors will probably ensure that the Jaime Hernandez collection will be the first Fantagraphics Studio Edition, even though the Prince Valiant FSE was solicited a year earlier. But once they eventually get the problems sorted out, the Charles Burns and Hal Foster studio editions are the one's I'm looking forward to more than any AE produced or solicited thus far, and for me, the Studio Editions will be the most exciting AE line.

Make It Good.