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COMIC LEGEND: EC Comics made an exception to their standard strict script rules for the classic story “Master Race.”
Last month, we lost one of the all-time comic book greats with the death of EC Comics writer and editor Al Feldstein.
Feldstein has been featured a number of times over the years in Comic Book Legends Revealed, particularly related to his classic tale about racial discrimination, “Judgement Day,” which the Comics Code famously tried to keep from being published.
Reader DonM435 at the Classic Horror Film Board suggested that I feature a legend about Feldstein in honor of him, so here you go!
In 1955, EC Comics published another one of Felstein’s most famous stories in Impact #1. The story is about a Concentration Camp Commandant who managed to escape to the United States but lived constantly in fear over being discovered, especially by his former Jewish prisoners.
Here’s the ending of the story…
It’s a great story in and of itself, but it was ESPECIALLY powerful back in 1955 when very few stories were being written about the Holocaust PERIOD, let alone in a comic book.
However, as DonM435 wrote in to suggest, this story was also particularly different because it was a unique writing arrangement. EC Comics worked under a strict scripting standard, where the writer (in this case Feldstein) would lay the story out precisely, to the point where the stories would actually be lettered BEFORE the artists began drawing the page – that’s how precise the stories were laid out. So the artist (in this case Bernard Krigstein) would have a very specific panel arrangement to use (as opposed to Stan Lee’s “Marvel Method,” where he would come up with a plot with the artist, the artist would draw it and then Lee would add dialogue).
For this story, though, Krigstein felt that he needed to try something different, so he just decided to break the story down as he pleased. Feldstein was quite irritated, because he would have to have the whole thing adjusted to fit Krigstein’s new layout (as Krigstein had just expanded the story from six pages to eight! He wanted to cut the story up even FURTHER, but eight was as far as he figured he could reasonably be allowed to go).
In particular, this striking wordless sequence was something you’d never see in an EC Comic normally…
Feldstein was irked enough that he actually held the story back for a full year before finally putting it into Impact #1.
Feldstein’s displeasure, though, led to it being a one-time experiment and Krigstein eventually left comics entirely, but for one moment, at least, the combination of artist and writer led to one of the greatest comic stories of all-time.
Thanks to DonM435 for the suggestion!