Apart from his music career, Grant has also written and designed several books related to the 1950s EC Comics and to MAD magazine. In addition to this, he has also selected the material for, and contributed essays to, several MAD- and EC-related books. For his books, Grant has been nominated four times for the Eisner Award, and twice for a Harvey Award, which are the comic-industry’s equivalents to the Oscars or the Grammys.
The History of EC Comics (2020)
Calling All EC Fan-Addicts! A history of the world’s most notorious comics
In 1947, Bill Gaines inherited EC Comics, a new venture founded by his legendary father M. C. Gaines, who was responsible for midwifing the birth of the comic book as we know it during his tenure at All-American Comics, bringing the likes of Wonder Woman and Green Lantern to the world. Over the next eight years, Bill Gaines and a “who’s who” of the era including Al Feldstein, Harvey Kurtzman, and Wally Wood would reinvent the very notion of the comic book with titles like Tales from the Crypt, Crime SuspenStories, Weird Science, and MAD.
EC delighted in publishing gory, morbid horror and crime comics that had snap, ironic endings—but they also pioneered the first true-to-life war comics, the first “real” science-fiction stories, and a series of tales about such then-taboo subjects as racism, bigotry, vigilantism, drug addiction, police corruption, and anti-Semitism. Too good to last, they were eventually caught up by various 1950s guardians of morality, who were convinced that EC’s often over-the-top content was causing juvenile delinquency. A year or so after a full inquiry investigating horror and crime comics, the incredible EC Comics were no more.
TASCHEN presents the full, fascinating story of this fabled company, written and expertly curated by EC-authority Grant Geissman. Even the most die-hard EC Fan-Addicts will find something new within these pages, with the Gaines family archives providing more than 100
something new within these pages, with the Gaines family archives providing more than 100 rarities that have never seen print. Many of the cover images are reproduced from Gaines File Copies, which are widely regarded as the best surviving copies of the EC Comics.
Gathering more than 1,000 illustrations that include the rarest and most notorious covers, interior pages and panels, photos, vintage original artwork, and some of the most celebrated stories ever to be printed in four colors for a dime, this is the ultimate EC Comics compendium and a must-have for any comics enthusiast or pop culture historian. Hardcover, 11.4 x 15.6 in., 13.25 lb, 592 pages
The Complete Junior and Sunny (2014)
The Complete Junior and Sunny: Long considered to be prime examples of late 1940s “headlight” and “Good Girl” art comics, issues of Junior and Sunny have been quite difficult to find and very expensive to obtain. Until now! Created, written, and illustrated by the legendary EC Comics artist/writer/editor Al Feldstein for the notorious Victor Fox of Fox Feature Publications, The Complete Junior and Sunny presents the full run of these comics. Along with a historical Introduction by Grant Geissman (who also designed the book), it also presents the one issue of Meet Corliss Archer that Feldstein did for Fox. Although the stories are basically charming, “typical teenage” period pieces, Feldstein’s artwork for them often pushes the envelope for the time, with titillating covers depicting ample “headlights,” and often-suggestive images in the stories themselves. It’s probably a good thing that Dr. Fredric Wertham never found out about Junior and Sunny! Seduction of the innocent, indeed! (Edited by Grant Geissman)
FELDSTEIN: The Mad Life and Fantastic Art of Al Feldstein! (2013)
FELDSTEIN: The Mad Life and Fantastic Art of Al Feldstein! takes a long-overdue look at the entire remarkable career of this legendary artist, writer, and editor. Both a full biography and a coffee-table art book, we begin with the earliest surviving Feldstein artwork from the High School of Music and Art, present his very earliest comic book work, and follow his development from the 1940s Victor Fox shop (including the titillating "headlight" comics Junior, Sunny, and Meet Corliss Archer). And we examine his highly visceral work for the classic EC comic book line.
Along with rare and previously unpublished photographs, the book pictures every EC Feldstein comic book cover (many placed alongside the original artwork), presents several complete EC stories, plus nearly every splash page and house ad Feldstein did for EC. We trace his thirty-year career as the editor of MAD, and present his post-retirement work as a "fine" artist, including his prize-winning Western canvases and his many commissioned paintings "revisiting" his classic cover images from the 1950s. We examine every aspect of Feldstein's long career and fascinating personal life, not all of it sweetness and light.
Foul Play!: The Art and Artists of the Notorious 1950s E.C. Comics! (2005)
Foul Play! is the perfect book for anyone wanting to understand the special place EC holds in the comic fan's heart -- or who just wants to read some real good comics! Foul Play! celebrates the fan-favorite creators of EC Comics, profiling their artists -- a veritable who's who of mid-20th century popular illustration -- and describing how they came to work with Bill Gaines and how their careers evolved after EC… among the comics art legends profiled are Al Feldstein; Harvey Kurtzman; Johnny Craig; Jack Davis; Graham Ingels; Jack Kamen; Wallace Wood; Joe Orlando; Will Elder; John Severin; George Evans; Al Williamson; Reed Crandall; Bernie Krigstein; and more! Plus, the book includes a special bonus: a lost EC Comics story Wanted for Murder! originally intended to be published in 1956 but forgotten and unseen until now.
When originally published, EC Comics titles like Tales from the Crypt, The Vault of Horror, and Weird Science became best-selling titles, embraced by readers for their macabre wit and stunning illustration. Eventually, EC Comics ran afoul of a full Senate Subcommittee investigating (but never proving!) the link between comic
Subcommittee investigating (but never proving!) the link between comic books and juvenile delinquency, but not before winning a legion of fans that still treasure EC's output. Foul Play! demonstrates -- in glorious, gory detail -- exactly why these are among the most beloved comics stories ever published. Edited by Geissman, Foul Play! was nominated for both an Eisner Award and British Eagle Award in 2006 in the category of "Best Comics-Related Book.”
Reviews for Foul Play!: The Art and Artists of the Notorious 1950s E.C. Comics! (2005)
"A beautiful and long overdue art book, but more than that — a fascinating look at the artists behind the art. Refreshingly thorough and not always pretty. I loved it."
- Michael Mignola, Creator of Hellboy
"Here's an easy review: If you have any interest in E.C. Comics, you need a copy of Foul Play!"
- Mark Evanier, Author of MAD ART
"A must-read for anyone interested in the American visual art of the Twentieth Century. Geissman has wrapped up the Age of McCarthyism in a clear cellophane. Concise, comic, tragic, scholarly; anything but "foul." It's outta the park."
- Van Dyke Parks, Musician/Composer/Author
Tales of Terror!: The EC Companion (2000)
Fifty years in the making, this is the definitive story of EC Comics. Tales of Terror!: The EC Companion is the complete compendium of all the EC comics, and is the definitive story of all the EC titles that trafficked in horror, suspense and courage: Tales from the Crypt, Weird Science, Frontline Combat and other titles, including M.C. Gaines's early Bible and "funny animal" titles, Bill Gaines's formative "Pre-Trend" books, the glorious (and gory-ous) "New Trend" comics, MAD, and the experimental "New Direction" and "Picto-Fiction" titles, plus work by Wally Wood, Feldstein, Al Williamson, Harvey Kurtzman, Bernie Krigstein and others! Nominated for two Harvey Awards and an Eisner Award, this 296-page book is a major work, an exhaustively researched and meticulously detailed book celebrating the 50th anniversary of E.C.'s "New Trend" by the longtime fan and author of Completely Mad. Every original EC comics book cover is pictured in eye-gouging full color; any longtime EC fan will find it to be chock full of very cool stuff! The volume also includes a creator index and guidebook, unpublished EC art, rare 1950s era photos, as well as new interviews and other special material, such as a major interview with Al Feldstein as well as interviews with Adele Kurtzman (Harvey's widow), Moon Girl artist Shelly Moldoff, Nick Meglin (on the Fleagle Gang), a series of previously unpublished conversations with Bill Gaines and Al Feldstein taped by von Bernewitz in 1955-56. Also included are Bill Gaines's 1954 Senate Subcommittee testimony and a "lost" EC story, illustrated by Johnny Craig!
Collectibly MAD: The MAD and EC Comics Collectibles Guide (1995)
Collector extraordinaire Grant Geissman started reading and saving MAD magazines as a kid back in 1961. Later, upon discovering that MAD publisher William M. Gaines had previously published EC Comics (Tales from the Crypt, Weird Science, etc.), those books and related materials likewise became a passion. MAD, in fact, had begun in 1952 as a 10-cent comic book written by Harvey Kurtzman and published by Gaines's EC Comics group. By 1967, Geissman acknowledges that he had succumbed to "comics fandom," and his collecting began in earnest. His 300-page-plus Collectibly MAD: The MAD and EC Collectibles Guide is a loving tribute to his diligence.
A first of its kind in the collectibles field, Collectibly MAD is not just a check list but a virtual compendium of MAD and EC trivia, anecdotes, vintage photos, and other information. Geissman began writing Collectibly MAD in 1990 after realizing that no guide whatsoever for MAD or E.C. collectibles existed. Kitchen
guide whatsoever for MAD or EC collectibles existed. Kitchen Sink Press, a highly regarded publisher of classic comic-related art, subsequently signed on to release the tome. MAD publisher Bill Gaines gave a hearty "thumbs up" to the work-in-progress and contributed some never before seen collectibles, as did various MAD staffers, artists, and writers. Upon it’s release, Collectibly MAD was nominated for an Eisner Award in 1996 in the category of "Best Comics-Related Book."
Geissman's compilation sails through years of pop culture, detailing the books, record albums, jewelry, clothing, games, foreign reprints, calendars, and other ephemera that spawned from Bill Gaines's unique and colorful publishing house. Only a completist like Geissman could have gathered such a massive amount and variety of material -- which includes a lengthy interview with the late Bill Gaines and a price guide to aid in the buying and selling of this memorabilia. As his collection grew, Geissman became increasingly committed to tracking down the very rarest items, such as the MAD Straight Jacket, EC cufflinks, and MAD jewelry. Running "wanted" ads in antique, collectible and comics journals, he garnered materials from all corners of the globe. After writing the publisher of the Swedish MAD, for example, Grant returned home to find a "care package" of rare Swedish MAD collectibles on his doorstep; the publisher had come to town on business, looked up the address and personally hand-delivered the items. In additional to memorabilia, this volume is also chock-full of interesting MAD trivia; among other revelations Geissman uncovered while compiling this book, it is reported here for the first time that illustrator Norman Rockwell originally agreed to paint the archetypal Alfred E. Neuman face for MAD, but later declined because he wouldn't be able to work from a live model, as was his custom.
Reviews for Collectibly MAD: The MAD and EC Comics Collectibles Guide
“MAD is a fitting title for this book. It's amazingly well-researched; in fact, it seems meticulous to the point of near-insanity.”
- Joe Fielder, HERO ILLUSTRATED, June 1995
“A statuette of Alfred E. Neuman, the grinning idiot mascot of MAD magazine, stands behind the laptop on my desk. Down the hall, a trunk shelters hundreds of prized issues of the old rag. A MAD calendar hangs on the wall, a board game sits under the coffee table, an Alfred towel lies in the closet... fans like me who can't get enough of all things MAD need Grant Geissman's new 320-page Collectibly MAD. In it, Geissman lovingly describes such MAD artifacts as Halloween costumes, old office stationery, mugs, slot machines, a straitjacket, and The MAD Show, a revue from 1966. Collectibles are illustrated with more than 1,000 black-and-white pictures and eight color pages. There are loads of anecdotes, as well as an exclusive interview with MAD's founder, William Gaines. The wacky, irreverent stories and art created by MAD's "usual gang of idiots" have been making me laugh since the '70s. But whether you're a new fan or an old one, the inane relics showcased in this book will make MAD addicts drool with desire.”
- "What, Me Collect MAD?" by Dave Cravotta, STREET CRED, WIRED MAGAZINE, Issue 3.12 - December 1995
Other Book Projects
Grant has also compiled and/or annotated the following MAD and EC Comics-related books:
WEIRD SCIENCE Vol. 1 [EC Archives] (Notes)
THE HAUNT OF FEAR Vol. 1 [EC Archives] (Notes)
TALES FROM THE CRYPT Vol. 3 [EC Archives] (Notes)
MAD ABOUT THE FIFTIES (Notes and compilation)
MAD ABOUT THE SIXTIES (Notes and compilation)
MAD ABOUT THE SEVENTIES (Notes and compilation)
MAD ABOUT THE EIGHTIES (Notes and compilation)
MAD ABOUT THE NINETIES (Notes and compilation)
THE MAD READER / 50th Anniversary Edition (Foreword)
MAD STRIKES BACK! / 50th Anniversary Edition (Foreword)
INSIDE MAD / 50th Anniversary Edition (Foreword)
UTTERLY MAD / 50th Anniversary Edition (Foreword)
THE BROTHERS MAD / Anniversary Edition (Foreword)
THE BEDSIDE MAD / Anniversary Edition (Foreword)
SON OF MAD / Anniversary Edition (Foreword)
THE ORGANIZATION MAD / Anniversary Edition (Foreword)
LIKE, MAD / Anniversary Edition (Foreword)
THE IDES OF MAD / Anniversary Edition (Foreword)
FIGHTING MAD / Anniversary Edition (Foreword)
SPY vs SPY The Complete Casebook (Foreword)
The Overstreet Comic Book Price Guide
THE WOLVERTON BIBLE, Basil Wolverton (Foreword, "A Shot in the Liver, a Shot to the Soul")
MAD GROOVES (CD compilation of the best of MAD's records, Liner notes and compilation)