Wally's World

by Steve Starger

Book review

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This book opens with Wallace Wood blowing his brains out with a .44 magnum in a rundown apartment house in Van Nuys, California. The year is 1981 and Wood is 54 years old, drunk, drawing porno cartoons for a living, and facing kidney failure. So even if you come to this biography knowing only Wood's great work for EC Comics, Mad Magazine, and his science fiction illustration, you will not be under the impression that what you are about to read is particularly upbeat.

As a biography, Wally's World is better than a cursory or fanboy treatment of its subject but falls short — way short — as a in depth biographical study. The authors had access to surviving family members, ex-wives, and Wood's co-workers, and so they bring in a great deal of interesting material anda variety of voices to this short, heavily illustrated book. But their work is poorly edited and offers few insights into how this talented and difficult man lost it all in the world of American comics and illustration. Alcohol is the clearest answer here, but just as Wood's wife, Tatanya, successfully kept the extent of his drinking secret for such a long time from Wood's employers and co-workers, the authors have almost a "hands off" attitude when it comes to the details and causes of Wood's eventual implosion. What they are best at is recreating the world of American comics in the 1950's and 60's, that boys' club where Wally Wood held the office of president for many years. In later chapters, such figures as R. Crumb and Art Spiegelman put in appearances. Wood's significance in the history of American comics is assured.

About that subtitle. My reading of this book stretched over weeks and I did not pick it up for days at a time. But I am not sure who, if Wood was the "World's Second Best Comic Book Artist," the authors have in mind as the very best. Eisner? Kirby? Skimming back through, I never found the answer.

Release date 01.10.2005
Pages count223
File size0.8 Mb
eBook formatPaperback, (torrent)En
Book rating4.44 (23 votes)