Sunday, August 09, 2009
Wilson, Wexford, and Wally Wood
So what have I been up to this weekend? Well Friday was my father's birthday so I took he and my mom to breakfast this morning. That was fun. I finished my Sword & Planet short story but through some computer error I lost the last five pages right after I finished them. That was less fun. I hate having to write something over and will actually have to wait a few days before I do so in order to be able to come at it fresh.
I read F. Paul Wilson's next to the next to the last Repairman Jack book, By the Sword. Not my favorite of the series, I have to say. The plot seemed more involved with secondary characters than with Jack, and truthfully I didn't care much about most of the secondary characters. Oh well. At least Jack finally meets Glaeken, the former barbarian from prehistory, a bit more civilized now after being alive for over 15,000 years and the guy who was in at the beginning of the Earth's battle with Rasalom the Adversary. I find it a lot of fun that the genesis of Wilson's six book Adversary Saga and close to twenty Repairman Jack books is a little sword & sorcery story called Demonsong.
Anyway, I also began Ruth Rendell's newest Inspector Wexford mystery, Not in the Flesh, but decided about three chapters in that I wasn't in the mood for a whodunit, so I put it aside for later. Then I switched to non fiction. A comment that Wally Wood friend and biographer Bhob Stewart made to one of my older posts made me decide I wanted to pull out Bhob's book, Against the Grain: Mad Artist Wallace Wood, and give it a re-read. I did and I still recommend it as a major book for anyone interested in the history of comic books. It's not only a good biographical study of Wood, but it also contains an enormous amount of information about the history of comics, especially some of the lesser known companies such as Avon, and about the famous EC Science Fiction comics.
On the reread, the chapter that fascinated me the most was a long conversation between Stewart, Bill Pearson, Nick Cuti, and several other of Wood's friends and colleagues in which they share memories of Wood. In some ways Wood's story is a tragic tale of a man who was his own worst enemy, but jeez was he a talent. No one, but no one, could do the things with a brush and a bottle of ink that he could. Back when I was learning to draw I spent a lot of time studying Wood's art. I can't ink worth a darn, but I still learned a lot about drawing. I can still see Wood's influence in the way I draw profiles and my women still have some Wood influence as well. In fact a friend of mine, on seeing some of my early work years ago, noted that I "Drew men like Kirby and women like Wally Wood." That's less apparent these days as I have assimilated many other influences, but it's still there to some degree. I used to keep a copy of Wood's 22 Comic Panels that Never Fail pinned to my drawing board, and when I was working in commercial art I kept a sign stolen from Wood on the wall beside my desk which read "Never Draw What You Can Copy, Never Copy What You Can Trace, and Never Trace What You Can Cut Out And Paste Down. Makes me wonder what Wood could have done with photoshop. Anyway, I highly recommend Stewart's book. Still available from TwoMorrows Publishing, the fine people who bring you The Jack Kirby Collector.