Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Monday, March 30, 2009

Wood's Daredevil Covers

Wally Wood was touted highly by Stan Lee as THE next big thing at Marvel and while he certainly had a lasting impact, his initial stay in 1965 was sadly brief. He did the art for only seven issues of DAREDEVIL (two of those inking Bob Powell who, like Wood, had helped design the MARS ATTACKS cards around the same time). He was even allowed script credit by Lee at one point--always a bone of contention with others such as Ditko and Kirby! Woody also inked the Daredevil figure in the classic FANTASTIC FOUR # 39 over his old SKY MASTERS collaborator Jack Kirby--presumably because Kirby couldn't get the black shadows right. In fact, I recall letters at the time complaining that Wood never drew the blacks in the same place on the costume from one panel to the next. Some fans apparently didn't get that the blacks were SHADOWS, not part of the color scheme! Many years later, the story goes that Wood happened by the Marvel office one day in early 1980. He was already dealing with some of the physical effects of his various health issues but he was given a cover to ink (perhaps for old times' sake)--the cover for DAREDEVIL # 164. Wood's distinctive touch is still evident over Frank Miller's pencils, particularly in the boots. Presented here are ALL of Wood's DD covers. Woodwork on DAREDEVIL was later reprinted in DAREDEVIL ANNUAL # 2 and various issues of MARVEL SUPER HEROES but he did not do the covers.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Potrzebie


If you're a Wood fan, surely you already frequent POTRZEBIE, the unique and often Wood-related pop culture site from former Woodworker (and a bit of a legend in his own right) Bhob Stewart. Several good Wood posts recently include a look at various aural, visual and video versions of Ray Bradbury's "There Will Come Soft Rains" including, of course, the classic EC version. Check it all out over at http://potrzebie.blogspot.com/.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Boris the Bear


As stated in an earlier posting, Wally Wood's classic T.H.U.N.D.E.R. AGENTS were turning up in all manner of places throughout the eighties, not always authorized and not always well served. One of the more unusual places was 1987's BORIS THE BEAR # 11. BORIS THE BEAR was one of the earliest Dark Horse titles. Possibly designed as a one-shot, the first issue featured Boris as a cute and cuddly little teddy bear (later revealed to be a robot) who took violent vengeance on all of the stupider comics characters then flooding the market. It was amusing. Then came issue two and the need to keep the concept going. Creator/artist James Dean Smith (with input from Mike Richardson and others) actually did a pretty good job of expanding on the essentially one note premise for quite awhile and BORIS THE BEAR lasted a surprising several years on the stands. Smith and his creation still maintain an Internet presence today at http://www.boristhebear.de.vu/ and http://oasiscomics.blogspot.com/.

This issue deals with the ghost of Dynamo (with ethereal angel wings yet) who asks for Boris's help to stop the T.H.U.N.D.E.R. folks from being exploited. It seems the Iron Maiden and her minions are cloning the Agents to flood the market with multiple rip-off comics. Eventually, Boris (as DynamoBear) does what Boris does best and destroys the plan. In the end, he meets Dynamo again, this time for a poignant moment at the grave of Wally Wood.

Inking by former Tower artist and Woodworker Dan Adkins provides a welcome familiarity to some of the art as clones of Dynamo, Menthor and NoMan fight Boris. While it's easy to see the good intentions in the story, I can't help but note that this story contains no indication of John Carbonaro's trademark on the characters who appear and thus, in its own way, BORIS THE BEAR # 11 is guilty of being not so much a parody but an unauthorized exploitation of the characters--the very thing it's ostensibly complaining about!

Unearthly Spectaculars


Found on the 'Net, here's a page of original art from Wood's mid-sixties contribution to Harvey Comics' UNEARTHLY SPECTACULARS. Looks to me like maybe done with Adkins. Kind of a FLASH GORDON feel, don;t you think. Woody never lost his enthusiasm for science-fiction comics.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

The Cartoonist


Courtesy of Thom Buchanan (whose own blog MY DELINEATED LIFE over at http://mydelineatedlife.blogspot.com/) is quite Wood-friendly) comes this rare and wonderful 1959 cover for the National Cartoonist Society magazine, THE CARTOONIST. I don't even see this listed in THE WALLACE WOOD CHECKLIST! Dozens of no doubt on the mark caricatures of (mostly newspaper) cartoonists include the instantly recognizable Al Capp as well as an amusing look at Walt Kelly, Charles Schulz and Ernie Bushmiller as versions of their own characters.. That's Milton Caniff next to SMOKEY STOVER's Bill Holman in the fireman hat (note the trademark "foo" on his collar). I THINK the guy with glasses at the bar is Mort Walker. Presumably Floyd Gotfredson with the mouska-ears. Hank Ketcham looked nothing like Dennis the Menaces's dad but the blackhaired guy on the right does and is probably supposed to be him. That's Rube Goldberg top right with the award named after him, The Rueben, taking a drink...next to a shmoo.The grungy looking bearded guy is PROBABLY Bill Mauldin.One of the two women is probably supposed to be Dale Messick. Looks like a self-portrait toward the back on the left--guy with cigarette hanging off his lips. Anybody name any more? Thanks, Thom!

Monday, March 23, 2009

CartoonSnap

Reader Steve Jansen points out that a few weeks ago, the website CartoonSNAP presented Wally Wood's inspired LORD OF THE RINGS parody from a 1976 issue of DC's PLOP. A further check indicates that they've run a number of Woody goodies in recent moths and you can link to them all here--http://cartoonsnap.blogspot.com/search/label/Wally%20Wood

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Unknown Illustration


Not sure what this is from but I found it particularly lovely.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Woody's Classic Covers # 10


We've neglected Wally Wood's most classic period at EC for far too long on this blog so herewith, we present, Wood's classic cover for WEIRD SCIENCE # 12. Note the startling contrast between this busy but not cluttered cover and "streamlined" art of the JUNGLE JIM cover we previously published.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Colonial Survey


I'm not sure what this is from but I'm going to presume GALAXY. Found on the Web some time back, this has always been a favorite piece of Woodwork.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Wally Wood's Conan


In the 1950's, Wood did the covers for some of the Robert E. Howard Conan novels. At the time, Conan--and Howard in general--were relatively unknown outside of sci-fi/fantasy fandom and were essentially cult objects. Here, from THE WALLACE WOOD CHECKLIST, is a larger version of Wood's cover rough for THE RETURN OF CONAN.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Woody's Classic Covers # 9


Here we have Wood getting namechecked on a cover yet again, this time that of Marvel's AVENGERS # 20. Although the cover blurb plugs Woody's inside inking over Dashing Don Heck, this cover is yet another rare instance of that downright magical combination of Jack Kirby pencils with Wally Wood inks.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Cannon



Wally Wood's CANNON ran concurrently with the much lighter SALLY FORTH in the OVERSEAS WEEKLY newspaper of the early 1970's. CANNON is perhaps the ultimate machismo fantasy strip with violence, guns, explosions and/or naked women in something like every third panel sometimes. Originally created by Wood himself for the undistributed 1969 one-shot, HEROES, INC. (and originally done with Steve Ditko pencilling), it would thus seem to be the culmination of his own well-known macho leanings. Or is it an over-the-top parody of the then recently ragingly popular spy genre?


If it were ever to be made into a movie, I would cast Bruce Willis as Cannon. The character of Cannon is a government-sanctioned killing machine with no emotions, no fears and no conscience. He does, however, seem to have a bit of an overactive sex drive. Like a hyperactive STEVE CANYON, his adventures take him into various exotic locations with lots of military and spy hardware.


CANNON features some of the best Woodwork of the period, aided here and there by Nick Cuti, Ralph Reese, possibly Paul Kirchner and Larry Hama and even Neal Adams. I'm pretty sure I spot a few other, less identifiable hands in the art also. There's also lots of barely traced drawings of cars straight out of the clip art files and even a character obviously based (at least visually) on Woody himself.


Taken as a serious story, CANNON can be downright disturbing in spots but as I say above, if it comes right down to it, I'm not at all sure the creators WERE taking it seriously. There's Cannon with a beard, Cannon shaved bald, Cannon on the farm, Cannon in Nazi uniform, Cannon against the maniacal super-villain, Cannon shagging enemy female agents. It's like they were doing a more subtle (and frankly less funny) MAD-like parody of genre and gender cliches.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Malice in Wonderland



Unlike much of Woody's outright porn, this little more than softcore series that originally appeared in France and, in America, in Al Goldstein's NATIONAL SCREW (and was later reprinted a number of times including this Eros Comics version), is actually funny, mildly erotic and well drawn. I believe Sirois assisted but Bhob Stewart's book also mentions that Woody had some friends (and former assistants) over one night and asked some to help on the pages whilst they were there. Although often reprinted in black and white, the original was in a vibrant color as seen here in a page from the NATIONAL SCREW version.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Woody's Classic Covers # 6


In 1977, Wood finally got the chance to work on Superman, a character he had long wanted to draw. In this case it was even better in that it was the Earth 2, Golden-age Superman. Wood had been inking this series over Keith Giffen and Ric Estrada. For one last brief burts of energy before his health issues hit soon afterwords, Wood took over the pencilling, too (assisted by A. L. Sirois) and magic occurred, as it often did.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Flash Gordon Parody


Wood did a number of parodies (both clean and dirty) over the years of his idol Alex Raymond's FLASH GORDON. This single page is from the back cover of the legendary early seventies fanzine, HERITAGE, volume 1B. That's right, in an effort to be different, HERITAGE had issues 1A and 1B rather than issues 1 and 2. I don't recall ever seeing a rational explanation for same but both issues were choice tributes to FLASH GORDON and featured the top talent of the day from Neal Adams and Al Williamson to Raymond himself, Jack Kirby inker Mike Royer and Australian artist Stanley Pitt. The second issue was backed with this wonderful, busy, polished and apparently self-contained drawing by Wood (with assists from Kirchner I believe).

Monday, March 9, 2009

Fantastic Voyage

In 1966, director Richard Fleischer (son of animation legend Max Fleischer) took us on a FANTASTIC VOYAGE, a unique sci-fi drama in which scientists are shrunken and inserted into a human body in a teensy tiny "spaceship." It was , in my opinion, the best film for star Stephen Boyd (one of my least favorite leading men of all time) and it was the first real lead for Raquel Welch, not long before her career was diverted to pure sex symbol camp with ONE MILLION YEARS BC. No less than Isaac Asimov was enlisted to novelize the screenplay (and it WAS a novelization in spite of the fact that it was released first). Copied and parodied endlessly in the decades since, the original movie, although dated in spots, still has a sense of awe. Whether it will in the upcoming remake remains to be seen.


That said, somehow Gold Key Comics managed to come out with an incredibly dull translation of it with equally dull art credited to Adkins, Wood and Coleman! Backgrounds are sparse or downright missing in many panels and figures are stiff and hard to tell apart. The coloring is washed out and Woody can't even seem to make luscious Raquel's character look as hot as a thousand other babes he drew. All in all I have to say I find this to be some of Wood's most disappointing professional work. Even his later, post-illness work shows more imagination.

Judy Canova


Wood did a lot of early work for Fox Comics, including some in all three issues of JUDY CANOVA. Cover-billed as "Radio's # 1 Funster," Ms. Canova was a hillbilly comedienne who went on to become a not-bad character actress as well as mother to the delightful and beautiful Diana Canova, best known for TV's SOAP. Her on-air popularity in the late forties led to this brief series of comics which was strongly influenced by Al Capp's L'IL ABNER. This particular cover is credited on GCD to Wood solo (I've submitted a correction) but if you look closely, Joe Orlando's name is in the rocks on the ground in the center of the cover. Wood's name also appears discreetly in the collar of the man in the foreground. The art looks to me to be drawn by Joe and inked by Wood. Note also that Wood has a cameo as one of the guys captured. It wouldn't surprise me if the remaining guys in the background included caricatures of Orlando and others who worked at Fox at that time.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Woody's Classic Covers # 5

SPACE DETECTIVE # 1 from 1951, possibly with Joe Orlando.

Shattuck


Every Wallace Wood fan is aware that Wood produced the strips CANNON and SALLY FORTH for THE OVERSEAS WEEKLY in the early seventies. Did you know that there was a third strip? SHATTUCK was a "sexy western" strip drawn early on by a young Howard Chaykin (who says he remember little of it) and later by Dave Cockrum. Some sources indicate Wood working on the strip himself but others hint that he did not. What I find most intriguing about it is that I can find nothing about it! The absolute only SHATTUCK art I have ever come across is this early Cockrum drawing. Does anyone out there have any more? Maybe some actual samples of the strip itself? I'd be pleased to share it here on this site.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

RIP-John Carbonaro


Mark Evanier is reporting the recent passing of John Carbonaro, whom Wood fans would know from his early 1980's purchase of the rights to the T.H.U.N.D.E.R. AGENTS and several subsequent attempts to revive those great characters with little success. Along the way, he had a long but ultimately successful court battle against a claim that the rights were actually public domain. Evanier reports that he had planned for the disposition of the rights after his death so hopefully DYNAMO, NOMAN and friends (most recently being archived by DC) may yet have another chance at a second act.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Woody's Classic Covers # 4



EERIE # 4 (the early fifties version). Damn that cover box! Those titles meant nothing! They didn't sell the book. The girl did! What were they thinking?

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Moonchild by Wood


Former Wood sidekick Nick Cuti forever staked his own claim to fame in comics history with his mid-seventies creation of E-MAN. Both before and after that, however, Cuti also developed a following for his own character MOONCHILD THE STARBABE, published off and on and from various publishers since the mid-sixties right up until just a few years ago. Originally done as a series of solo black and white underground comix, I first saw the charcter in color in 1972's EC homage, WEIRD FANTASIES. Both written and drawn by Cuti, Moonie (as she became known later) is a cute, big eyed and bigger breasted space traveler whose adventures later turned up a bit more explicitly done in CHERI magazine.



In the early 1990's, Forbidden Fruit ran a three issue mini-series reprinting some of the early work, presenting some all-new work and printing for the first time some originally shelved early stories of the character. The first of these issues (seen above) featured a gorgeous MOONCHILD painting by her creator and also offered for the very first time an interpretation of Moonie by Cuti's mentor, Wallace Wood. That's the one--slightly truncated due to scanner limitations--seen here.



To see what some of Nick Cuti's more serious artwork looks like, check out his TIME MACHINE illustrations here:http://colemanzone.com/Time_Machine_Project/cuti.htm#cosmos

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Dynamo-Man of High Camp


Most versions of the origins of THE T.H.U.N.D.E.R. AGENTS indicate that Tower, known for their mass market publishing, intended all along to collect their comics into book form and reach a whole new market. They did, in fact, end up doing four TA volumes. The fact that they weren't particularly successful, however, might have at least something to do with the fact that they couldn't even get the coloring right on their own flagship superhero in his first papaerback appearance, the now ludicrously entitled DYNAMO--MAN OF HIGH CAMP! If you've never read the series, please don't let this cover's dialogue dissuade you. I guarantee you, the comic's Len Brown would laugh at the above word balloon more than you are now!

Monday, March 2, 2009

Record Albums


Around the time he left MAD, Wood expanded into the record album cover market. He did a MAD-style cover for the rare adult "party" record, PETER AND PENELOPE POOF HAVE A PARTY and then, with Dan Adkins, did six covers for childrens' record albums featuring (really boring) adaptations of classics. The latter were "cut-outs" that were found in department store bins well into the seventies as well as being offered by mail order from various fan sources. The covers were the best thing about them.


Sunday, March 1, 2009

Ferran Delgado's Blog



For those of us complaining that there's never enough Wood art on the 'Net, check out this link http://ferrandelgado.blogspot.com/search/label/Wally%20Wood for some ultra-rare stuff such as this DAREDEVIL preliminary sketch and this little-seen SALLY FORTH and Snorky cover. It's in Spanish but the art itself needs no translation. Enjoy!

Dragonella


Just a note to direct you over to the Bronze Age of Blogs (http://bronzeageofblogs.blogspot.com/2009/03/woodys-women.html) today where you can catch Woody's DRAGONELLA in all of its 5 pages of full-color lusty laughs!