Monday, January 14, 2013

Woodwork

-By Arnie Fenner


IDW recently published a US edition of the catalogue that accompanied the 2010 Wally Wood museum retrospective in De Palma, Spain...and it's a doozy. Woodwork: Wallace Wood 1927-1981 is easily the best book ever produced about the influential comics artist and illustrator. Beloved for his intricate drawings for EC Comics in the 1950s and for his more graphic stories for Marvel, Warren, and Tower, Wood was also a pioneer in self-publishing and gave a number of young artists working as his assistance their first professional work. Besides comics he also created trading cards (he drew the lay-outs for many of the Mars Attacks cards that Norman Saunders painted), advertising art, magazine illustrations, and book covers (Wood drew Conan nearly ten years before Frazetta got his his crack at the character).


Wally Wood's story is sobering and, I guess, something of a cautionary tale. Despite being widely respected by his peers and extremely popular among fans, he struggled financially—and personally, physically, and, in the last decade of his life, creatively. Harvey Kurtzman said, "Wally had a tension in him, an intensity that he locked away in an internal steam boiler. I think it ate away his insides, and the work really used him up. I think he delivered some of the finest work that was ever drawn, and I think it's to his credit that he put so much intensity into his work at great sacrifice to himself." Wood commited suicide in 1981.

This book is a gorgeous tribute to one of the true visionaries of our field. And what made Wallace Wood so great? Well, take a look





6 comments:

  1. Beautiful work. I think it was Wood's distinctive style and inking that first gave me some insight (limited by my small talent) into how black and white art worked, creating areas of negative space.
    I'll have to get this book.
    Am I correct in thinking that Wood had a newspaper strip back in the sixties with some of his more cartoon-like characters? If memory serves it had to do with Christmas at the North Pole and had an abominable snowman character.

    Best,
    Aaron

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    1. Wood flirted with newspaper strips—and things like CANNON were, I think, done for papers given away at military PXes—I don't think he ever had a strip in syndication. At least not with anything that lasted or was widely available. He always hoped to turn things like THE MISFITS and SALLY FORTH (the G version) into something, but success eluded him. He helped Frazetta out a few times on JOHNNY COMET and had "auditioned" as Hal Foster's replacement on PRINCE VALIANT.

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  2. My uncle had an old copy of MAD and "SuperDuperMan!" was in it I think, I read it as a child and loved it, hadn't seen it in years, now I know who drew it, thanks :)

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    1. "SuperDuperMan!" was one of his best. His parodies of Batman, Flash Gordon, and Prince Valiant are all excellent as well.

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  3. Wood did do "Bucky's Christmas Caper" for the NEA syndicate in December of 1967. It was just a seasonal thing, though...

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  4. Wally had a tension in him, an intensity that he locked away in an internal steam boiler. I think it ate away his insides, and the work really used him up. woodworking projects

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