Horror News Network’s 2018 Comic Awards: Johnny Craig Named Horror Comic Honoree of the Year

by Nick Banks

No company has had a greater influence on horror comics than EC Comics.  William Gaines’ controversial publishing line will forever be remembered as the home of Tales from the Crypt, The Haunt of Fear, The Crypt of Terror, along with Sci-fi titles such as Weird Science, and a slew of urban crime titles.

One member of EC’s stable of artists, Johnny Craig (April 25, 1926 – September 13, 2001), distinguished himself early on in the company’s  history, becoming a reliable fan-favorite of those that preferred their comics a little more macabre than most.  Craig’s work graced the majority of EC’s horror comics and he was one of the few creators of his day that handled both writing and art chores on a story.  He would become most famous for his work on The Vault of Horror and Crime Suspense Stories, both penning and illustrating the lead-story for both bi-monthly series.    

Craig’s artwork attracted national attention when comics came under fire in the 1950s, thanks to Frederic Wertham’s Seduction of the Innocent and  the United States Senate hearings that followed.  Senator Estes Kefauver used the cover of Crime Suspense Stories #22 to grill Gaines about the appropriateness of the shocking cover that featured a man holding the severed head of his wife.  The cover has since become one of the most famous (or infamous depending how you look at it) covers in the history of the medium.

When the creation of the Comics Code Authority all but put EC Comics out of business, Craig worked briefly for other publishers before he left the field for a career in advertising.  When Warren Publications brought back the horror comic in their heavily-EC influenced black and white magazine Creepy, editor Archie Goodwin reached out to the former great, and was able to convince Craig to return to the style that made him famous.  Craig would go on to work for Warren under the pseudonym “Jay Taycee” (so he could continue to work his advertising job and to avoid any further controversy) for two years, before the artist gave up the comics once again.

Horror News Network is proud to honor one of the pioneers of horror comics, Johnny Craig, with the 2018 Honoree of the Year.

Keep checking back all this week for more Comic Awards announcements, right here at your home for horror comics: Horror News Network.


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