Brian Azzarello, Stephanie Phillips, and more to pen EC Comics' return from the grave

Earlier this year, comics publisher Oni Press announced that it would be raising the legendary horror comics imprint EC Comics from the grave. EC Comics was perhaps best known for such spine-chilling anthologies as Tales From The Crypt and The Vault of Horror — both of which drew the ire of Frederic Wertham and his infamous Seduction of the Innocent crusade against comic books. The company also published the original MAD Magazine, which ended up being its only book to survive past 1956 and the rise of the Comics Code Authority.

Over the last 70 years, the EC Comics IP has occasionally been reprinted, bouncing around various other publishers. But now that Oni Press has secured the rights, the company will soon publish the first original EC Comics stories in decades — beginning with an oversized anthology titled Epitaphs From The Abyss, coming July 2024. And you, dear reader, are the first to learn the creative team behind that book!

Brian Azzarello (100 Bullets, Batman: The Damned) will be teaming with Vlad Legostaev (Ninja Turtles) for a story called, "Us vs. Us." "Frederick Wertham and his asinine comics code knee-capped us," Azzarello told me over email. "Thank God — or my grandmother, who didn't throw out my father's comics — that I was able to discover EC in an attic I was forbidden to go in. That subsequent downward spiral has led me to where I am now."

The next story, "Killer Spec," will presumably pull from the real-life horrors of writer J. Holtham's (Night Thrasher, Bishop: War College) time working on TV shows such as Cloak & Dagger and The Handmaid's Tale. "I can't imagine a better time for EC Comics to come back into the world," Holtham said. "They've always been great at skewering (literally) the worst people in the world. We have a lot of folks who could use a good skewering. And then some." He'll be joined by artist Jorge Fornes (Danger Street, Rorschach).

Stephanie Phillips, known for her work on books like Harley Quinn and Rogue & Gambit, will be writing a story titled "Family Values," illustrated by Phil Hester (Family Tree). "As a reader, I am thrilled EC Comics is returning because the present world is beyond ripe for their brand of subversive horror stories," she said. "As a writer, I could not be more excited to carry the legacy of those subversive horror stories into this terrifying world."

The anthology will be rounded out by Chris Condon (That Texas Blood), whose story "Senator, Senator" will be drawn by Peter Krause of Irredeemable fame. "As a reader, I am thrilled EC Comics is returning because the present world is beyond "Every short story that I write, I write with EC Comics in mind," Condon said. He continued:

It doesn't matter what company it's for or what the story is, it's the stories of Jack Davis, Al Feldstein, Joe Orlando, and the entire EC lineup that I look back to for guidance. The stories that EC Comics published were revolutionary — violent, tragic, hilarious, and timely. They pushed boundaries like no one else dared to, revolutionizing the comics medium into a truly transgressive art form. EC Comics was born in the fraught post-war years of the 20th century and it's only right that in our tense age of uncertainty that EC Comics returns with the same gleefully deranged energy of its early incarnation. It's just what the doctor — the one in the blood-stained scrubs holding a rusty butcher knife precariously over his patient's head — ordered.

The blood-stained doctor scrubs were a perfectly nice touch, in my humble opinion.

Here's an exclusive first look at some of the delightfully creepy variant covers for Epitaphs From The Abyss, too (including one from Jay Stephens, creator of the delightfully Lynchian horror comic Dwellings):

Did I mention that there may be a new horror host to replace the infamous Crypt Keeper, too?

EC Comics' Epitaphs From The Abyss will be published in July 2024.