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.