Thursday, January 29, 2009

All-Star Original Art

I've only ever possessed two pages of original comic book art and both of those are DC pages inked by Wallace Wood. One is a SUPERBOY page from the late 1960's drawn by the unsung craftsman, Bob Brown. The other, seen here, is from Wood's mid-seventies outburst of creativity at DC. It's a JSA page from issue 63 of the revived ALL-STAR COMICS with pencils credited to Keith Giffen. Studying this page, it's fascinating to me to see the use of screens (including one that obviously peeled off over the years before I got it), white paint, and the leftover blue pencils. You can see the brush strokes where the blacks were added and the subtlety of some of the lines in the faces. Just amazing when you consider that this is really (in spite of the presence of Hourman, Dr. Mid Nite, Dr. Fate and the Star Spangled Kid) a rather lackluster page. Wood--probably assisted here by Al Sirois--was apparently enjoying the JSA stories quite a bit because following this, for a few issues, he's credited with full art on the title and that's something he just did not do in those late days.
When I was managing a bookstore last year, we carried the graphic novels reprinting this run of ALL-STAR and I took great delight in opening to this page, all shrunken and colored in the reprint, and telling my co-workers that i actually HAD the art at home. They didn't get it. They said I could buy the whole book so why would I want just a page? I tried to explain why I bought the artwork and why it mattered but the outside world still just doesn't get nor understand the importance of Wallace Wood. Maybe that was always the problem.


  1. Couldn't agree with you more buddy !
    " Woody " was never understood by most of his contemporaries let alone the world in general ...

    I think he only cared about his work and those few who did " get him " . We are among the few and proud !

  2. I became a fan of both The Huntress & Power Girl in the late 70's, and managed to get all the back-issues ofd ALL-STAR featuring them. Blew my mind-- to see Wally Wood (who I was becoming such a HUGE fan of around that time) doing "finishes" over several different artists, including Keith Giffen, who I often jokingly say "never really learned how to draw". (Or maybe he just deliberately draws as bad as possible. He's a good "storyteller", but he's ALWAYS at his best when he does story & JUST layouts, and lets a "real" illustrator make it all look real pretty.)

    ONly in retrospect did I realize that when Gerry Conway jumped back to Marvel (BRIEFLY!!!) to become EIC, he took Giffen with him, which is how Keith got on THE DEFENDERS. Conway & Giffen forced longtime creative team Steve Gerber & Sal Buscema off the book, long before their time. Even more tragic, Wood stayed behind on JSA (doing story and FULL ART!), while the one person on DEFENDERS who kept his job-- for awhile-- was Klaus Janson (AAAAUGH!). Worst-loiking crap I'd ever seen in Marvel at that time. Conway vanished back to DC rather quickly, but it was only when Janson was eventually replaced that I found out Giffen actually wasn't half-bad... and at the time, was "channeling" JACK KIRBY.

    I must dig out those ALL-STAR COMICS issues one of these days. While it was Paul Levitz, Joe Staton & Bob Layton (a Wood alumni) who got me hooked, the later stuff does pale to the ones Wood worked on. Too bad we didn't see Levitz & Wood, Paul was 10 tmes the writer Gerry ever was or will be.

    A major frustration for me was after ALL-STAR was cancelled, and ADVENTURE stopped being a Dollar Comic, the only person who seemed interested in continuing the JSA was Roy Thomas... and he insisted on doing WW2-era stories.