Wednesday, July 17, 2019

Review: Cons De Fee: The Erotic Art of Wallace Wood

CONS DE FÉE: THE EROTIC ART OF WALLACE WOOD

This is a tough book to review because, of course, Wallace Wood was great. Parts of this book, though, are not. 

One of THE very best and most influential artists to ever have worked in comics, Wood was jointly celebrated for his sleek and shiny science fiction art, his impish and biting humor art, and his unapologetically sexy and sometimes smutty Good Girl Art, there have been multiple volumes collecting the best of his work in two of those categories, but only one in the latter. 

This new volume from Fantagraphics then could be considered an expanded revision of that earlier volume, Naughty Knotty Wood, published by the same company more than two decades ago. Only it isn’t really.

Naughty Knotty Wood has quite a few pieces that aren’t represented here at all. Likewise, this current volume has nearly 100 more pages, many of them taken up by the never before reprinted flat out pornographic strips from Gang Bangthat appeared late in Wood’s life. While they more than fit the topic, a few of them inarguably qualify as the worst things that he ever drew.

But enough with comparisons, how’s THIS particular book, you ask? Well, it has its ups and downs. It’s good to have all this material corralled into one volume. Some of it—Malice in Wonderland, for instance, or some of his Screwcovers—can be counted amongst the best of Wood’s later work. 

The Pussycat strip is a delightful revelation when compared to the murky 1968 printing with which most fans would be familiar. The Wood Estate’s J. David Spurlock discusses the behind the scenes story of that and several other unique items in his informative Introduction. He also explains the book’s unusual title, a poorly chosen reference to a long-ago French collection of Woodwork that makes no real sense. This book’s descriptive subtitle alone would have sufficed, rather than tagging it with the silly bit of Euro-naughtiness that’s likely to turn away potential customers. 

Editor J. Michael Catron, who handled the completion chores on the recent two volume Fantagraphics collection of Wood-related essays begun by the late Bhob Stewart, presumably provided the info in the Contents as to the original publication of the various pieces in the book. It’s welcome information although I would have preferred it being with the pieces themselves, rather than having to go back and check the Contents whenever I wanted to know more. Also, I was surprised to see one of Wood’s most famous 1970s pieces—the glorious outer space cover of his first self-published Sally Forth collection—listed as “Publication status unknown.” 

Spurlock writes a nice bio of Wood at the end but unfortunately it contains some repetitious bits that come almost word for word from his Intro.

In between the Intro and the bio, you’ll find color and black and white girlie cartoons and strips from mags like Gent, Dude, Nugget, Cavalcade, Puritan, National Screw, and Big Apple Comix, along with an underground Wood strip that was also in Naughty Knotty Wood but with a bizarrely rewritten script and even different credits! Would love to have heard the full story behind that.

So, yes, a mixed bag, For Wood collectors, it’s another welcome addition to the seemingly endless library of quality Wallace Wood books. Casual fans might find themselves wondering what all the fuss is about.

It should go without saying that Cons De Fee: The Erotic Art of Wallace Wood is NSFW and is for adults only! 

Booksteve recommends for Wallace Wood fans. 

Wednesday, March 13, 2019

Review: Dare-Devil Aces

Have I mentioned that it’s a good time to be a Wally Wood fan? There have been so many great books covering Wood’s life, art, and career in one or more capacities in recent years that a fan could easily fill a bookcase with nothing but wonderful Woodwork!

The latest of these books is Vanguard’s cleverly titled DARE-DEVIL ACES, subtitled “Commandos and Other Sagas of War.” As you might suspect from that title, this is a collection of Wood’s war-related comics stories. Well, most of them anyway. Avoiding repetition, the already widely printed EC’s and the separately published BLAZING COMBAT pieces are instead covered herein via informative text pieces and some original art pages.  

The meat of this volume consists of lesser-known material originally published by Charlton, Harvey, Avon, Tower, and even DC Comics. Military comic books flourished throughout the 1950s and into the ‘60s until ant-Vietnam sentiment began driving many of them out of business. Sgt. Rock and Sgt. Fury managed to hang on a bit longer, as did a few under-the-radar Charlton titles, but the boom had ended. 

While the boom lasted, though, Woody contributed some typically attractively drawn pieces, some concurrent to his amazing MAD years, and those often uncredited—but easily recognizable—stories are to be found here.

Storywise, most are lacking in comparison to Harvey Kurtzman’s highly researched war/anti-war EC’s but that doesn’t detract from the enjoyment of Wood’s art, which is really why you’re here. In fact, most of these stories, originally printed on cheap pulp paper (REALLY cheap pulp paper in the case of the Charltons!) have never looked better. The decision to reproduce from the original comics on slick paper goes a long way toward covering up many of the printing flaws of the original comics.

And make no mistake! While some of the examples here might be considered lesser Wood, we’re also treated to The Lone Tiger and Dollar Bill Cash from 1966, considered by many to be some of the artist’s very best work of that decade. And Cannon! Wood’s own paramilitary strip superspy character that ran in the Overseas Weekly for years is represented here by the stories from both issues of Heroes, Inc., done with the great Steve Ditko! Dan Adkins, Maurice Whitman, and Russ Jones are also credited as working with Wood on a number of the pieces at hand. 

Available in multiple editions, Dare-Devil Aces is a particularly attractive book and yet another choice addition to that Wallace Wood bookcase from Vanguard Publishing. With more to come, Wood fans might start shopping for bigger bookcases!





Friday, March 30, 2018

Dare-Devil Aces


Just announced from Vanguard for 2018, this latest collection in the parade of great books by and about Wallace Wood in recent years!

Sunday, February 4, 2018

The Life and Legend of Wallace Wood Vol. 2


Got my contributor copies last week so it should be shipping soon and arriving in stores. You can pre-order here: 

Friday, November 25, 2016

The Life and Legend of Wallace Wood, Vol. 1

Here at last is the book Wood fans have been waiting for for decades...or at least the first part of it. The late Bhob Stewart called me up out of the blue one daya few years back and we had a long conversation about Wood, after which he asked me to contribute to this book--a partial reprint of his previous book, AGAINST THE GRAIN but with much new material and no longer censored as it was in its original publication. Originally I was asked to write about SHOCK SUSPENSESTORIES but that was changed. In another call, Bhob asked me to write about Wally Wood's contributions to the early color MAD and also to its color comics companion, PANIC. I had the Cochran volumes so I spent a couple weeks revisiting EC at its finest and then sat down to write about it all. I sent it on and Bhob said it was exactly what he wanted. I explained that that was just my first draft and that I would like to revise it a bit. He called again to say it was perfect and asked me to send him a bio on myself so I did. Then I never heard back. At all. Until the news of Bhob's death hit barely a month later. It seems he'd been quite ill for some time although I never could have guessed it from our lively phone conversations.

Long before I had any actual contact with him, I had encountered his work throughout nearly my whole life. I was a huge fan of his Topps products in early grade school, I was obsessed with his CASTLE OF FRANKENSTEIN mag in my teens, I discovered his cheesy movies as a young adult, and admired his place as a comics historian and, in fact, in comics history itself as I grew older and discovered EC. I never would have guessed I'd work with him on what would be his final project.

After Bhob's passing, word eventually came that Fantagraphics would finish the book. As the months dragged on into years, it became two volumes because there was so much good stuff they didn't want to leave any out. And now, finally, it's shipping. Although I have yet to see a copy, I have to presume that with all this attention, this will, in fact, turn out to be the book Bhob Stewart had been working on in a way since the 1950s! The ultimate tribute to Wallace Wood!

At several points along the way, it was conformed to me that my chapter made it into this first volume. Not sure yet if it made the final cut. I hope it's good enough to sit beside the contributions of so  many others who admired, knew and/or worked with Wood. I hope it's as good as Bhob Stewart thought it was.

http://www.fantagraphics.com/lifeandlegendofwallacewood/

Thursday, May 12, 2016

Shattuck at Last


Over the years, we attempted with frustratingly little success to find out info on SHATTUCK, the early seventies adult western series created by the Wallace Wood Studio alongside the better-known CANNON and SALLY FORTH strips. Well, proving that all things come to those who wait, here's the Wood Estate's new press release on SHATTUCK.


HOT OFF THE PRESS: Wallace Wood Presents: SHATTUCK. Along with his trademark 1970s Sally Forth and Cannon strips that ran in the Overseas Weekly military newspaper, Wood created a super-rare third strip, a sexy western, produced in 1972, named Shattuck. Wood originally conceived of, co-wrote (with Nick Cuti), and drew the layouts for Shattuck as a vehicle for his studio-mate, Golden Age Captain America artist Sid Shores, but turned it over instead to two young up-and-comers — Howard Chaykin (American Flagg!, Black Kiss) and the now-legendary X-Men artist, Dave Cockrum. Shattuck, the historic, very first credited ongoing feature for both Chaykin and Cockrum, has never been re-published or collected since it first appeared in Overseas Weekly more than 40 years ago. Full of gun-toting femmes fatale, fast-drawing lawmen, and snarling outlaws, Shattuck is a Western romp published in the same format as Fantagraphics’ bestselling Wood production of Cannon. As a bonus, while appearing to be in black and white, the entire book has been scanned from the carefully preserved originals in full-color to mimic as closely as possible the experience of viewing the actual original art, complete with paste-overs, notes, art corrections, etc. Previously enjoyed only by American servicemen in the Vietnam era, Fantagraphics Books and The Wallace Wood Estate and proud to present the missing link in Wood’s oeuvre in a beautifully designed and affordable format.


Monday, March 14, 2016

DD and Netflix


Perhaps you've heard about the growing controversy that Wally Wood does not receive a credit on the popular Netflix DAREDEVIL series, now in its second season. Okay, he didn't create the character. That's a given. The character existed before Wood ever showed up at Marvel. There are a lot of folks who worked on the DD comics over the years and made contributions that appreciably changed the comic but they didn't "create" the character either so as long as THEY aren't credited, I don't see why anyone should expect Wood to be. Oh. Wait.

The DAREDEVIL comic book has always had its ups and downs but it's always been blessed with a number of creators who have given it some of their best work. That most certainly doesn't start and end with Frank Miller. If one grants that to acknowledge every single writer and artist would be too much to expect, then break it down to only the really important ones who defined the series to come for decades, and that starts with Wallace Wood. 

There is no logical reason NOT to give Wood credit on the Netflix DAREDEVIL series.