Classic EC Comics artist Jack Kamen has just passed away at the age of 88. Although always understandably regarded as the weakest of the EC Artists, he was the most subversive in some ways. His wholesome illustrative style, and perennially healthy looking, mannequin-like characters doing nasty things to each other, in themselves act out a scathing satire of the values that would eventually land EC and the comics industry as such in hot water from concerned parents and censorious authorities.

Plus, those stories are really funny, following as they do the formulaic accelerated three-step logic of shortform pulp plots: “Oh Maureen, I love you”, “I love you too, Brad, but Dick will never give me the divorce”, “Let’s kill him!”. Also, his art was a perfect, subtly disturbing fit for the didactic but still rather interesting strips in the post-Comics Code title Psychoanalysis, not so much for the landscapes of the subconscious, surely influenced by such imagery as Salvador Dalì’s designs for Hitchock’s similarly hammy therapy thriller Spellbound (1945), but rather for their frank straightness. Whiteman on the couch.

Tom Spurgeon’s obit.