The early 1950’s were the end of an era in comics. There was a freedom in what could be published that would be hindered in 1954 when the Comics Code Authority started to heavily censor what types of themes and content could be published with their approval. The publisher releasing some of the most provocative comics during this time was EC Comics. Alternating between “Educational Comics” and “Entertaining Comics” in the forties, they focused much more on the latter in the early fifties and found success in niche genres like crime, horror, and science fiction. So much success, in fact, that they needed to start “borrowing” stories from other authors. And who better to copy than one of the greatest genre writers of the moment (and all time as it turned out), Ray Bradbury?
Home to Stay is an incredible collection of stories for many reasons. Ray Bradbury’s tales are as engrossing as they ever were. The art accompanying them brings those stories to life in a different medium so that even if you have read the prose before, you can experience them in a brand new way. But maybe the most exciting reason to dive into this collection is to witness the process of adaptation and how that differs when it is sanctioned compared to when it is unsanctioned. Both are displayed here due to Bradbury noticing his stories being taken and adapted without his permission, and rather than suing the comics publisher, began a relationship with them so that official adaptations could be created.
This volume contains both the approved stories and the “variations”, giving the reader stories that are more purely Bradbury and others where the original is told through a different lens and distorted by another author’s creativity. This makes Home to Stay more than just a different format for something you may have read before but is an example of how this man’s writing inspired other artists and bred further art, both in illustrations and in the narrative. Being able to see this process from beginning to end all in one place gives you not only a variety of fascinating stories, but also a snapshot of how the comics industry ran during this time.
That being said, the book is formatted so that you can open it to a specific section or story if you wish. My favorite section is the collection of comics that adapted stories from “The Martian Chronicles”, a classic piece of science fiction literature that always fills me with a sense of dread as I read it. This section of the book displays the comics in the narrative order that they appear in Bradbury’s book rather than the chronological order in which they were adapted. This gives the reader a better sense of the overarching narrative being told, which I imagine will be helpful to those new to Bradbury’s writing.
If you are someone who is usually averse to anything published before the modern age of comics, I recommend you give this a chance. It’s easy to forget that gruesome stories about insane morticians or undead little girls could be published seventy years ago and that an overreacting society prevented us from getting decades more like this. Collections like these are what keep this era from being forgotten and show us that these comics are as “Entertaining” today as they were back then.