Zero Hour: And Other Stories illustrated by Jack Kamen
Hardcover – Fantagraphics – Feb 2014 – 176 pages
With his wholesome approach, Jack Kamen stood out amongst the grandguignol grunge, gritty realism, or futuristic dazzle of his fellow EC cartoonists — but his brilliant editor/writer Al Feldstein found a way to exploit the surface innocence of his style with seemingly nice stories of romance gone horribly wrong, or future fantasies with an unexpectedly brutal twist. And nowhere did Kamen’s clean-but-lush graphics work better than in the stories he created for EC’s science-fiction comics.
The title story, “Zero Hour” (one of three in this book adapted from works by Ray Bradbury), set in a Spielbergian suburban idyll, is particularly well served by Kamen’s surface innocence; “A Lesson in Anatomy” works similar magic, with its Mayberry-esque setting veering into alien-invasion terror.
If there was any devil in Kamen, it came out in his loving depiction of the female face and form, and you could see why his hapless heroes were often fatally entranced with them — as in “Punishment Without Crime” (Bradbury again), “He Who Waits!” (a scientist finds an extreme way of rejoining his eight-inch-tall inamorata), and “Miscalculation!” (the lucky recipient of a package from the future literally brews his own harem); even the supercomputer in “Only Human!” proves vulnerable to a beautiful woman’s charms.
Zero Hour And Other Stories contains 22 classic EC yarns — plus the usual all-new biographical, historical, and critical essays that have made Fantagraphics’ EC Library series the ultimate version of these classics.