Transatlantic terror! French horror theater and American pre-code comics

Richard Hand, Mike Wilson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


At first glance it may seem farfetched, if not ludicrous, to draw a parallel between French theater of the modern period and American comics of the 1950s. In the case of the Théâtre du Grand-Guignol (1897-1962), however, and the pre-code EC comics (1950-55), there are not merely a number of formal and thematic parallels to be drawn but several points where the Grand-Guignol can be seen to have had a direct influence on EC's titles. This influence can be detected in EC's direct reference to the Grand-Guignol's legendary status as the “The Theatre of Horror,” but there are also instances where EC makes use of Grand-Guignol archetypes or “borrows” storylines from the French repertoire.This article will investigate the hitherto neglected link between two specific examples of French theater and American comics both of which came to share a monumental significance-and notoriety-in their respective fields of popular horror culture. The article will give an overview of their respective legends before looking at the parallels between their formal structures, theme and content.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)301 - 319
Number of pages18
JournalJournal of Popular Culture
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1 Feb 2012


  • grand guignol
  • horror
  • adaptation


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