Monday, January 18, 2010

Madhouse Wood?

Here's a humorous monster tale from Archie Comics' MAD HOUSE ANNUAL of 1973. As that book is made up of reprints, I'm going to assume that this particular story was actually printed several years earlier. Certainly, based on the hippie jokes, no earlier than 1967 and probably no later than 1970. That part is easy. The question is: Is it by Wally Wood? As usual on MAD HOUSE stories, there are no credits here and the book is not listed in Stewart and Vadeboncouer's Checklist. GCD is silent on the contents of pretty much the whole darn series in spite of the fact that it ran in various formats for nearly two decades.

Starting out in 1959 as a late entry MAD rip-off featuring the regular Archie gang, after the first couple years, the title became a mish-mosh of pop culture humor from surfing to superheroes to monsters to hippies to whatever was "hip" at that moment.

This story could certainly be someone swiping Wood. The machinery, in fact, doesn't quiiiiite seem Woody enough. The characters, especially their faces, do, though. Even background characters. Is this Wally Wood? If not, it's certainly a good homage to Wood! I'm leaning strongly toward "Yes, " though, in this case. What do YOU think?


  1. Ronn Sutton wrote me:
    I think there's no doubt the story was drawn by Wood. It first appeared in Archie's Madhouse #64 in 1968. Bhob Stewart & Jim Vadeboncoeur Jr.'s "Wallace Wood Checklist" is an exceptional catalogue, but it is missing several items (including Wood's 7 page "The Coming Shortage of Women" in the March 1965 issue of Pageant Magazine, for example) as well as containing a few errors. I've passed on a number of such items for any future edition of the checklist.

  2. Without knowing the facts in full, and with all due respect to everyone, my guess would be definitely Wood inks, over some other Archie artist of the era (Hartley?).
    I say that because some of the faces and figures don't look 100% Woody to me, and the end result reminds me of say, Oskner/Wood...not 100% Wood.
    That Frankenstein monster face is so 'not' Wood, I'd bet someone else designed it.
    Look at the Doctor in the 1st panel on page 3...remove the Wood inks in your mind and you'll see a stock Archie pose -- it could be a parent or a teacher yelling at Archie, at least thats what I see. Maybe Wood drew all the gadgets in the one panel on page 4, thats his bread & butter, so they let him...
    look at the figure in the lower left corner of the last panel -- that is not 100% Wood, someone else penciled that.
    That's my opinion.

  3. It's tough to say for sure, but on the basis of the hand gestures and the writing style, I think the writer/layout artist might be Dick Malmgren. This story puzzled me as a child, reading it in MAD HOUSE DIGEST; I didn't know who Wood was, but I could see that it didn't resemble anything else in the book. There are also a couple of Dexter Taylor stories you'll find in these books that seem like a conscious effort on his part to emulate Kurtzman/Elder work in the comic-book MAD, with a much denser concentration of sight gags and more detailed art thatn his usual work.

  4. And thus, the Groovy Ghoulies were born!

  5. For anyone still interested, I spoke directly with Archie writer George Gladir this morning and he verified that this was, in fact, completely by Wood. He says he never got to meet him but had admired him in MAD for years. Gladir, of course, also worked at CRACKED for decades where he was to John Severin what Frank Jacobs was to Wally Wood at MAD.