EC Comics, the legendary comic book publisher behind subversive and sublime brands like Tales From the Crypt, Weird Science, Two-Fisted Tales and MAD Magazine, has inked a partnership with Hivemind, the production company behind Netflix’s The Witcher series as well as the upcoming feature Scary Stories to Tell In the Dark from CBS Films.
The new partnership will roll out with two projects: Weird Fantasy, a television series based on the classic EC anthology series, and a biopic of EC publisher William M. Gaines, who was a firebrand figure in comics history and an infamous name to cultural crusaders of the the 1950s who targeted EC as purveyor of prurient material that directly led to juvenile delinquency.
The 1950s moral panic led to an Congressional investigation that nearly doomed the entire comics industry. Gaines transformed himself into a leading free speech advocate and, with the founding of MAD (which he oversaw until his death in 1992), became a guiding force in American counterculture.
Weird Fantasy was the sister publication of Weird Science (which was adapted by Joel Silver for the 1985 namesake film) and during its relatively short-lived publication run (1950-53) it featured dark tales of sci-fi and fantasy often with wry twist endings, macabre trappings and social messages tucked inside its vividly illustrated parables.
The series featured titan talents of the comic book world, including Frank Frazetta, Al Feldstein, Al Williamson, Wally Wood, Harvey Kurtzman, Joe Orlando, Reed Crandall, Will Elder, and Bernard Krigstein.
Weird Fantasy featured one of the signature works in EC history in Judgment Day, the landmark story by Gaines, Feldstein, and Orlando that made history as one of the first comics stories to champion the values of the Civil Rights era.
The legacy of EC, Gaines and MAD has loomed large for decades and each is frequently cited as a major influence by a deep and eclectic roster of celebrated devotees, among them Steven Spielberg, George Lucas, Stephen King, George Romero, Tim Burton, Guillermo del Toro, George R.R. Martin, Matt Groening, Judd Apatow, R.L. Stine, John Landis, Terry Gilliam, Tobe Hooper, the Zucker Brothers, and the Ramones.
The deal between Hivemind and EC’s holding company, William M. Gaines Agent Inc., aims to resurrect the pop-culture profile of EC, which has waned since HBO’s Tales From the Crypt finished its seven-year run in 1996 after 93 episodes and two spin-off feature films. A testament to the influence and imprimatur of the EC brand: the executive producers of the memorable HBO anthology series were Robert Zemeckis, Richard Donner, Walter Hill, Joel Silver, and David Giler.
Both projects will be produced by Cathy & Corey Mifsud (Gaines’ daughter and grandson) for EC, as well as Dinesh Shamdasani, Sean Daniel, Jason F. Brown, and Hunter Gorinson for Hivemind.
The partnership also marks first word of Gorinson joining Hivemind, where he will serve as VP Brand & Content Strategy. Gorinson was previously at Valiant Entertainment, where he led marketing and communications and helped orchestrate the company relaunch in recent years. That relaunch culminates with the February 2020 release of Bloodshot, the first feature film adaptation of a Valiant Comics property. The Sony Pictures project stars Vin Diesel and was directed by Dave Wilson working off a script by Eric Heisserer.
Hivemind was established in early 2018 by former Valiant CEO & Chief Creative Officer Dinesh Shamdasani, former Bad Robot TV chief Kathy Lingg, and producers Sean Daniel and Jason F. Brown. Hivemind also currently produces The Expanse for Amazon (where the company recently signed a first-look for event television) and is actively developing an adaptation of Jeff Lemire & Andrea Sorrentino’s hit Image Comics series Gideon Falls for TV.