I’ve been trying to get my hands on one of IDW’s coveted Artist’s Editions ever since the series started with The Rocketeer by Dave Stevens (one of my all-time favourite comic book artists) and I’m still looking for a copy. But given the highly limited print run of only 300 copies, it demands a hefty price tag if you’re even lucky enough to find one. IDW followed this release with Walter Simonson’s Thor and recently, my first introduction to the series, Wally Wood’s EC Stories, and WOW, what a book!
Wallace ‘Wally’ Wood was a hugely popular comic book artist during the 1950s and 60s producing some of EC’s classic science-fiction stories as well as work for Warren, Marvel, MAD and his own personal project Witzend magazine. Although widely regarded as one of the best artists in the business, Wood was vocal about his mixed feelings for the industry and a notoriously heavy drinker which sadly contributed to his poor vision, extreme hypertension, a number of strokes and kidney failure requiring dialysis. Allegedly telling friends that he didn’t want to spend the rest of his life attached to a machine, he took his own life on Halloween 1980.
But BOY could he ever draw! And this collection of work, expertly reproduced in actual size from scans of the original artwork is the perfect testament to that. To say this book is big would be an understatement. I had to clear the dinner table so that I could open it fully and have a proper look, with both elbows on the table and my neck stretching out to examine the top panels of the page. Similarities to that of an awe-struck child are not lost on me.
I myself work with a lot of brush, pen and ink and always savour the rare opportunities to view the original artwork of artists I admire and that’s why I find this book so special. Here’s a whole 152 pages of some of the finest ink work you’ll ever see, showing all the technique, mistakes, glue, zipatone and white-out that a process junkie could ever want. A real education that’s second only to having the genuine article next to your desk whenever you want it for reference. A particularly interesting section covers ‘The Spawn of Venus.’ A 3D comic that required Wood to ink up to 5 layers of acetate to produce a depth effect. Detail is given on how this was achieved and the story is shown in full with all layers collected. Finishing off the book is the welcome bonus chapter of cover artwork from titles such as Weird Science and Two-Fisted Tales, a short biography and end-papers that enlarge a single frame so you can have an even better look at the line-work.
Undoubtably my book of the year so far and one that i’ll return to again and again if only for a quick inspiration fix. I’ve not even talked about the stories yet, written by Al Feldstein, Ray Bradbury and Otto Binder. Maybe once i’ve stopped obsessing over the artwork.
Beautiful, important, pricey and worth every penny.
*The link above directs you to www.bookpalace.com One of the few retailers i’ve found that still appear to have it in stock. For more information on Wally Wood, EC Comics and its contributing artists, I recommend ‘Foul Play’ by Grant Geissman.