Bernard Krigstein (March 22, 1919 – January 8, 1990) was born in Brooklyn, New York. Primarily a painter and illustrator, he went into the comic book field to earn extra money for his family before he entered the army in WWII. Most of his pre-war work was uninspired superhero material for ML and he contributed in 1943 with Subbie for Timely. After returning from the war Krigstein's interest in the field as an art form increased, and he had short stints with Novelty (1947, on the Bull's Eye Bill western Strip), Fawcett (1948, on the western Golden Arrow and jungle Nyoka features), DC (1948, on Wildcat and Atom) and several other groups (Pines, National, Hillman), before landing with Atlas in 1950.
Krigstein was used there mainly on crime, horror and science fiction comics. They were all second and third-rate stories, but Editor Stan Lee gave Krigstein considerable artistic freedom and he used these tales to experiment with the make-up and panel breakdown of the comic book page. Though some of the material was interesting, little of it matched the material he began to produce for EC in 1953, where Harvey Kurtzman invited him in.
Krigstein joined EC in the last years of its vaunted 'New Trend' and was one of the final arrivals in a stable that already included talents like Kurtzman, Davis, Crandall, Ingels and others. Krigstein was undoubtedly the most artistically talented – and the hardest to handle from a conformity standpoint. He was interested in expanding the formats of the comic page, and he used the three dozen or so stories he produced for EC to accomplish that goal, much to the chagrin of editors Bill Gaines and Al Feldstein.
Whereas Feldstein wrote stories to fit EC's relatively standardized seven-panel page, Krigstein constantly altered the page layouts to suit his purposes. The captions Feldstein wrote to explain what he visualized as one large panel often got chopped up and spread across several of Krigstein's smaller ones.
Krigstein was redesigning the comic book page along his own lines, and in the process produced some of the most powerful, innovative and sophisticated storytelling techniques ever to be witnessed in comic books. His best known story is undoubtedly Master Race and its 1955 appearance in Impact made it perhaps the most advanced graphic story of its time. Kriegstein contributed to Incredible Science Fiction, Crime Suspenstories and The Vault of Horror.
EC's color books folded in early 1956, and Krigstein continued to work for Timely/Marvel on Astonishing, Journey into Mystery, Strange Tales and others. After contributing material to the short-lived Picto-Fiction series and more stories for Atlas, Krigstein turned to commercial illustration. A final record was made as he managed to put 75 panels into a 4page story, They Went Below in Uncanny Tales in 1962. He contributed to 87th Precinct for Western in 1962, but eventually Krigstein devoted his career to painting, concentrating primarily in oils, watercolors and pastels.
Listed in 'The Who's Who of American Artists' he got to be an accomplished painter with several awards and many one-man and group shows to his credit. He also took a position at the 'High School of Art and Design' in Manhattan where he taught for 20 years.
As Krigstein told a 1962 interviewer: 'It's what happens between the panels that's so fascinating. Look at all that dramatic action that one never gets a chance to see. It is between these panels that the fascinating stuff takes place. And unless the artist would be permitted to delve into that, the form must remain infantile'.