Friday, November 14, 2014

Booknote: 50 Girls 50

Albert B. Feldstein, Al Williamson (illustrator),, 50 Girls 50 and Other Stories. Seattle: Fantagraphics, 2013. ISBN: 978160699577.

Genre: Comics and Graphic Novels
Subgenre: Science Fiction (some crime and western stories included), vintage comics

This is another good collection of EC Comics vintage stories compiled by Fantagraphics. This time, the publisher focuses on the illustration work of Al Williamson. If you like science fiction adventures, rocket ships, scantily-clad women, and Martian scenes, then Al Williamson was your man to illustrate those stories. The volume is a pleasure to read. For many, this volume may be a journey to earlier years of comics like Flash Gordon. In fact, Williamson names the Flash Gordon comics as one of his early influences.

This edition focuses mainly on Williamson's science fiction work, but he did the occasional Western or crime story for EC Comics, and those are included here too. Many of the stories feature those twist endings that seem to be a trademark of the stories that EC published. You see this also in the Jack Davis anthology that I read and reviewed previously.  Villains and con men get their poetic justice, and hubris is punished. Sometimes things do work out for the better.

Now, some of the stories may seem outdated given our modern knowledge. I think these stories retain their charm, suspense, and romance over time. Williamson's art really evokes faraway worlds full of danger and adventure. He brings to life dashing heroes and their damsels. We must note that he did have collaborators such as Frank Frazetta. As for the stories, while most of the scripts are by EC's Al Feldstein, there are also some adaptations of works by other authors worth mentioning. Ray Bradbury's "The One Who Waits" and I, Rocket" are present in this volume. Harlan Ellison offers his tale "Upheaval!" These are definitely good additions to the volume.

Finally, we must mention the extra features. Mark Schultz provides an introduction that gives some context on Williamson's work. The volume also includes some extra stories, a biographical profile of Al Williamson, biographical notes of the other creators and contributors, and a short history of EC Comics. Collectors will probably wish to add this volume to their collections. This is definitely a good volume for public libraries, and some academic libraries with recreational reading and/or popular culture holdings may want to add it as well. Though I borrowed it from my local public library, I would consider adding it to my personal collection.

If you ask me, 4.5 out of 5 stars.

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