William Gaines

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William Maxwell "Bill" Gaines (March 1, 1922 – June 3, 1992) was the American publisher and co-editor of EC Comics, and publisher of Mad for over 40 years.

Following a shift in EC's direction in 1950, Gaines presided over what became an artistically influential and historically important line of mature-audience comics.

He was inducted into the comic book industry's Will Eisner Comic Book Hall of Fame in 1993 and the Jack Kirby Hall of Fame in 1997.


Early life

Gaines was the son of Max Gaines, who as publisher of the All-American Comics division of DC Comics was also an influential figure in the history of comics. The elder Gaines tested the idea of packaging and selling comics on newsstands in 1933. In 1941, he accepted William Moulton Marston's proposal for the first successful female superhero, Wonder Woman.

Army years

As World War II began, Bill Gaines was rejected by the United States Army, United States Coast Guard and United States Navy, so he went to his draft board and requested to be drafted. He trained as an Army Air Corps photographer at Lowry Field in Denver. However, when he was assigned to an Oklahoma City field minus any photographic facility, he wound up on permanent KP duty. As he explained in 1976 to Bill Craig of Stars and Stripes, "Being an eater, this assignment was a real pleasure for me. There were four of us, and we always found all the choice bits the cooks had hidden away. We'd be frying up filet mignon and ham steaks every night. The hours were great, too. I think it was eight hours on and 40 off."

Stationed at DeRidder Army Airfield in Louisiana, he was reassigned to Marshall Field in Kansas and then to Governor's Island, New York. Leaving the service in 1946, he returned home to complete his chemistry studies at Brooklyn Polytech, but soon transferred to New York University, intent on obtaining a teaching certificate. In 1947, he was in his senior year at NYU when his father was killed in a motorboat accident on Lake Placid. Instead of becoming a chemistry teacher, he took over the family business, EC Comics.

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