by Art Chantry ( firstname.lastname@example.org)
this is a paperback cover by wally wood. he was maybe among the top two or three greatest cartoonists of all time. he did it all. this cover is from a short lived series of stories printed by galaxy magazine in a more ‘high brow’ book form. he did eight covers for this weird, short-lived series of paperbacks alone. he was brilliant and has remained a much studied and deeply admired inspiration for every cartoonist of the last 60 years.
a few of the projects he worked on over the years: mad magazine, ec comics (tales from the crypt, two- fisted tales, vault of horror), mars attacks trading cards, daredevil, terry and the pirates (with milt caniff), nudie gag cartoons for ‘dude’ and ‘gent’ and ‘nugget’, T.H.U.N.D.E.R. agents, ghosted prince valiant and the spirit and jules phiffer and jack kirby, hundreds and hundreds of paperback book covers for science fiction, record covers, warren pubs (creepy & eerie), jungle jim, marvel comics, dc comics, gold key comics, commercial advertising illustrations, PLOP!, endless romance comics, all sorts of sex comics (including the infamous disney “orgy” scene published in ‘the realist’ – often considered the most bootlegged image of all time). this is just a very very very small sampling of his prodigious output.
he worked with and for harvey kurtzman, john severin, will elder, joe orlando, harry harrison, isaac asimov, philip k. dick, clifford d. simak, jack kirby, steve ditko, paul krassner, bob powell, stan lee, dan adkins, larry hama, paul kirchner, leo & diane dillon, bill pearson, milton caniff, jack vance, and hundreds of other luminaries.
wallace wood struggled his entire life with unexplained headaches, an insecure working history, failed relationships, poverty, alcoholism, and an extremely bitter and sour outlook on life. his crankiness was legendary. after a series of health issues (kidney failure, semi-blindness, a stroke), he shot himself in 1981 (at the age of 54.)
in one of his final interviews, he stated, “if i had it to do all over again, i’d cut my hands off.”
…the working conditions and pay in the comic world truly suck the big one. but, to say that advertising has more to offer (except money) is like getting a shot of the clap to cure your malaria. in the end, the only thing you have to show for everything is the quality of your work. but, even that isn’t enough to create a legacy like wood’s or kurtzman’s or davis’s or kirby’ (or saul bass or paul rand or milton glaser, etc.) it’s mostly about hustle and hard work and a whole shitload of blind stupid LUCK. it’s the american way, dood. in the end, i’d rather be wally wood than paul rand.