DescriptionBernie Krigstein Impact #1 Complete 8-Page Story "Master Race" Original Art (EC, 1955).
Not only is this perhaps the most famous EC story of all time, it is by any definition one of the most influential, analyzed, and critically acclaimed stories ever to appear in a comic book! Frequently called the "Citizen Kane" of comic books, the hard-hitting, poignant story "Master Race" was co-plotted by Bill Gaines with writer Al Feldstein. It is a powerful look at the effects of Nazi concentration camp atrocities upon those who survived them. And it still manages to have that traditional "EC twist" to it.
But the astounding artwork is the main claim to fame, with Krigstein's absolutely jaw-dropping formal invention serving as a template for both mainstream and underground cartoonists for many decades to come. It's not hard at all to see how it could have influenced later comic storytelling: for instance, Dave Gibbon's Watchmen in 1986. Gibbon's page layout often used a technique of mirroring previous panels and layouts from one page to another. In this story, Krigstein was using the technique a full 30 years earlier. Compare the last panel of Page 1 to Panel 11 on Page 8. Compare Panel 7 of Page 2 to the last panel of the story. Brilliant layouts with wonderful pacing combine with the powerful story for a high-water mark for EC comics.
This is the virtuoso Krigstein's tour-de-force, demonstrating everything he dreamed the comic language capable of as an art form, and it's been the subject of numerous studies in books on the history of comics as well as a hugely influential analysis by John Benson, David Kasakove, and Art Spiegelman in famed fanzine Squa Tront #6, which was devoted to the artist (Spiegelman also wrote a later appreciation of Krigstein, specifically highlighting this story, for the New Yorker). As an important cultural touchstone, the story was included in the 2018 book We Spoke Out: Comic Books and the Holocaust (IDW), and Neil Gaiman recently referred to it as "One of the most important stories in the history of comics and the history of the art of comics..."
The story was the cover feature for Impact #1, one of EC's "New Direction" wave of books. It was also singled out as hugely important when EC's original artwork was initially being sold by Bill Gaines in the 1980s. It was the only artwork sold directly rather than at auction, as an astute collector made Gaines "an offer he couldn't refuse"... well over market-based value on what other EC art had been selling for at the time!
The pages were created in ink and Zipatone over graphite on Bristol board with an image area of approximately 13" x 18". All text is paste-up, except the top half of Page 1. Page 1 has a 1.5" rip in the left side margin just into the image area that has been repaired with masking tape on the reverse side, and the bottom half of the page is original art that is taped (and possibly re-glued) in from the reverse side. Image areas present nicely; all pages lightly toned with moderate handling wear, some staining, and edgewear in the margins. Signed as "B. Krigstein" in the first panel. Overall, the pages are in Very Good condition.
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