“Aliens, Monsters, and Madmen: The Art of EC Comics” opens at the Jordan Schnitzer Museum of Art at the University of Oregon

The exhibition is the largest gathering of EC original art in an accredited museum and is on view from May 14 to July 10, 2016

EUGENE, Ore. -- (March 7, 2015) – “Aliens, Monsters, and Madmen: The Art of EC Comics” celebrates the achievements of the most artistically and politically daring American comic-book company of the twentieth century: Bill Gaines’s “Entertaining Comics,” better known to fans all over the world as EC. Organized by Ben Saunders, professor, English Department, and director of the UO Comics Studies minor, the exhibition is on view from May 14 to July 10, 2016, and opens with a free reception on Friday, May 13, from 6 to 8 p.m. at the Jordan Schnitzer Museum of Art on the University of Oregon campus.

EC specialized in comic-book versions of popular genres—particularly Crime, Horror, War, and Science Fiction—adapting the conventions of those genres to the comics medium.  With such legendary Science Fiction and Horror titles as “Weird Science” and “Tales from the Crypt” the creators at EC shaped the young imaginations of a generation of Americans.  Writers such as Stephen King and R. L. Stine, filmmakers such as George Lucas, John Carpenter, George Romero, and Stephen Spielberg, and musicians such as Jerry Garcia and Alice Cooper, all cited EC as a formative influence upon their own work.  The company also broke new ground in the realm of satire as the publisher of “MAD,” an experimental humor comic that parodied the very stories that were elsewhere its stock in trade.

EC offered a controversial mix of sensationalism and social provocation, mixing titillating storylines and imagery with more overtly progressive material. Alongside comics about beautiful alien insect-women who dine on unsuspecting human astronauts, for example, they also tackled subjects that other popular media of the era avoided, including racism, McCarthyism, and the failures of the criminal justice system.  As a result, the company attracted the disapproval of parents, politicians, and moralists everywhere, and was ultimately driven out of business as the result of a conservative “anti-comics” backlash. Only “MAD” survived by becoming a magazine in the mid-1950s; it remains in print today.

 “EC comics and artwork now constitute highly valued collectibles,” says Saunders. “This exhibition is around key examples of the original production art — unique and rarely seen objects of extraordinarily detailed craftsmanship by some of the most influential comics artists of the 20th century.”

Drawn from some of the most important private collections in the country, the exhibition features more than 120 original pages (including several complete stories) by some of the most highly regarded American comic-book artists of the last century, including Johnny Craig, Reed Crandall, Jack Davis, Will Elder, Al Feldstein, Frank Frazetta, Graham Ingels, Bernie Krigstein, Harvey Kurtzman, Joe Orlando, Al Williamson, Wally Wood, and Basil Wolverton.  “Aliens, Monsters, and Madmen: The Art of EC Comics” also includes rare covers, splash pages, memorabilia, and a selection of the rarest EC comics, such as “MAD #1.”

Among the original artwork on display are the complete stories of Kurtzman’s “Corpse on the Imjin,” Wood’s “My World” and “Three Dimensions,” Ingels’s “Horror We? How's Bayou?”  Crandall's “Tough Cop,” Williamson's “Food For Thought,” Craig's “Rendezvous,” Krigstein and Elder's “Bringing Back Father,” and Elder's “Howdy Dooit!"

On Saturday, May 14, at 1 p.m. the public is invited to a Collectors Roundtable discussion with Glenn Bray, Grant Geissman, Roger Hill, and Rob Reiner, moderated by Saunders.

Saunders curated the JSMA’s previous comics exhibitions, “Faster Than A Speeding Bullet: The Art of the Superhero” in 2009 and “Good-Grief!: A Selection of 50 Years of Original Art from Charles M. Schulz’s Peanuts” in 2012.  

“Aliens, Monsters, and Madmen: The Art of EC Comics” is sponsored by the Coeta and Donald Barker Changing Exhibitions Endowment, The Harold and Arlene Schnitzer CARE Foundation, a grant from the Oregon Arts Commission and the National Endowment for the Arts, a federal agency, Oregon Humanities Center’s Endowment for Public Outreach in the Arts, Sciences, and Humanities, Philip and Sandra Piele, UO Comics and Cartoon Studies Minor, UO College Scholars Program, and JSMA members.

About the Jordan Schnitzer Museum of Art

The University of Oregon's Jordan Schnitzer Museum of Art is a premier Pacific Northwest museum for exhibitions and collections of historic and contemporary art based in a major university setting. The mission of the museum is to enhance the University of Oregon’s academic mission and to further the appreciation and enjoyment of the visual arts for the general public.  The JSMA features significant collections galleries devoted to art from China, Japan, Korea, the Americas and Europe as well as changing special exhibition galleries.  The JSMA is one of six museums in Oregon accredited by the American Alliance of Museums.


The Jordan Schnitzer Museum of Art is located on the University of Oregon campus at 1430 Johnson Lane. Museum hours are 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Wednesdays, and 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Thursdays through Sundays. Admission is $5 for adults and $3 for senior citizens. Free admission is given to ages 18 and under, JSMA members, college students with ID, and University of Oregon faculty, staff and students. For information, contact the JSMA, 541-346-3027.


About the University of Oregon

The University of Oregon is among the 108 institutions chosen from 4,633 U.S. universities for top-tier designation of "Very High Research Activity" in the 2010 Carnegie Classification of Institutions of Higher Education. The UO also is one of two Pacific Northwest members of the Association of American Universities.


JSMA: Debbie Williamson Smith, 541-346-0942,


Links: Jordan Schnitzer Museum of Art,