Gregg Saunders

Created by Al Feldstein and Johnny Craig

Private eye GREGG SAUNDERS, as far as I know, made only one appearance, but it's a memorable enough one; a nice slice of comic book noir done EC-style, scripted by the legendary Al Feldstein and pencilled and inked by comic artist Johnny Craig, and coloured Marie Severin, also pretty legendary in their own right.

The short (eight-pages!) story, "Fall Guy for Murder," appeared in the August-September 1953 issue of CrimeSuspenStories, and has been frequently reprinted, and with good reason. It's a good one.

Gregg is hired by his old buddy Harry, whose wife Edith (Gregg's former fiancée) has apparently taken a powder. Gregg's immediatley suspicious, but then he comes across a book (coincidentally also titled Fall Guy for Murder, whose plot pretty much parallels the case, with the hapless detective hero of the novel done in by his client.

Gregg smells a set-up, but in true EC fashion, it's not -- surprise, surprise -- the one he sees coming. Yes, it's hokey and convoluted and morally murky, but it works.

And the artwork by Craig really helps bring it all home. Unlike most of the EC roster of artists, Craig shunned the drippy, oozy horror graphic splatter style, opting for a clean, elegant, almost timelss classic style that has aged well. Sure, he illustrated the usual ghouls, fiends, cannibals and werewolves, but somehow the very normalcy of his world made the stories all the more jolting, and his work really shone in the dozens of dark crime and suspense stories he illustrated (and often wrote); his tight artwork a vivid contrast to the twisted, sordid tales of murder and madness that constituted the EC ouevre.

Not that it was all clean and tasteful -- Craig also drew one of the most infamous covers in comic book history: a Crime SuspenStories cover featuring a severed head that really wowwed 'em at the Kefauver comics hearings back in the fifties.

COMICS

  • CRIME SUSPENSTORIES
    (EC Comics)
    • "Fall Guy for Murder" (August-September 1953; #18)
      Written by
      Al Feldstein
      Art by Johnny Craig
      Colors by Marie Severin

REPRINTED IN

A stunning black and white collection of artist Johnny Craig's work for EC Comic, including 23 stories of horror and crime, along with with several essays and informative historical notes on what made Craig so special. As though the stories themselves weren't enough...

Respectfully submitted by Kevin Burton Smith.


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