Friday, May 18, 2018

MAD's Original Idiots - Wally Wood!


Wally Wood has to be my favorite of the original MAD artists. More than any other artist, Wood was able to find that delightful middle ground between his MAD spoof style and his regular style used on the many adventures he drew over the decades. The sweet spot he discovered allowed his art to be instantly recognizable regardless of the genre he worked in.


Wally Wood was also the most tragic of the classic talents who launched MAD. He was a man tormented by health issues, both physical and spiritual and that eventually resulted in his taking his own life when he was still a relatively young man. But it was not before he inspired a cavalcade of young talents, providing them inspiration and opportunity in the various fan and alternative pro comics and strips he pursued during his career.


Most folks are pretty certain it was the phenomenal success of Kurtzman and Wood's "Superduperman" that cemented MAD as a must-have for fanboys across the generation. It's an amazing send up of a classic property and has never really been topped as many times as the Son of Krypton has been spoofed. Later he did the same for Batman.


It's hard to pick a favorite of his MAD parodies, they are all so very good and so very consistent but perhaps I'd have to give the nod to Prince Violent and Flesh Garden because they are the King Features triumvirate.


It's too bad he didn't get around to doing a Phantom spoof too.


Wally Wood was a master, largely self-taught, he was sadly the tortured artist we think about in the cliches about great artists. But for all his pain or perhaps because of it, he was great.

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8 comments:

  1. I always loved his art, but I didn't appreciate how much bone-crunching labor he put into it until I picked up the Wood Artist Edition. He pasted in chunks of duo-shade board, applied zip-a-tone, used grease pencil, just every tool he could think of to construct comic pages as if they were sculpture. There are small panels that have the tonal range of paintings; he must have been sweating blood over some of the stuff, and I guess it eventually took its toll. But what a body of work.

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    1. I'd love to have that tome, but one has to draw the line somewhere (pun intended). One of the great losses to history for modern art will be that by creating it on computer, so much of the process will be so ephemeral. The blood and sweat will not be seen by future generations.

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    2. IDW issued a lower priced "Artisan Edition" with the exact same content and production quality, only it's smaller sized and in paperback.

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  2. "Gopo Gossum!" for me ("Boy, what good drawing! Not like comic-book trash!").

    It's also worth noting that while your above examples were done more or less in Wood's "style", he was also just as talented a mimic as Will Elder. His comic strip parodies in '50s and '60s era Mad Magazine are masterfully done facsimiles.

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    1. True sir, very true. Wally Wood was one of those artists who left a distinctive impression, he was not one you forgot.

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