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HAPPY BIRTHDAY DEAR WOODY
Happy Birthday,
Wally Wood!


Wallace Wood was born June 17, 1927, in Menahga, Minnesota. In 1944, he became a Merchant Marine, then enlisted in the Paratroopers in 1946. His comic career began when he returned to New York in 1948. Wood became a comic book legend, producing hundreds of pages of fine artwork on numerous EC books, Marvel's Daredevil, DC's Justice Society, and, of course, the T.H.U.N.D.E.R. Agents.

Since Woody died in 1981, many newer comic fans may be unfamiliar with his work, which is a shame. The guy is not just good. He's GREAT. He's ... he's .... he's WALLY WOOD, for God's Sake. Let's take a look at his work, and his tragic life. Yes, I said tragic. Here we go, reader!

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FROM EERIE TO EC
Early Wally Wood

Wood worked for numerous comic companies, making a lasting impression at EC. EC publisher Bill Gaines once called Woody "the greatest science-fiction artist there ever was." Here are the covers for Eerie #5 (not an EC book), Weird Science-Fantasy #23, and the famous Shock Suspense Stories #6 with the Klansman on the cover, all by Wally Wood.


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MAD MAGAZINE
Parody by Wally Wood

Woody was as adept doing parody as he was with superhero stuff. Here's the splash page from Wood's brilliant Superman satire, "Superduperman," which originally ran in Mad magazine. The emblem on Superduperman's chest is the Good Housekeeping Seal of Approval!


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THE MAN WITHOUT FEAR
Wally Wood's Daredevil

Woody helped launch Marvel Comics! Here are Daredevil #7, #9 and #10, all by Wally Wood, who redesigned DD's costume. Originally, it was partly yellow. Why would a "devil" dress in yellow? Who knows. But Wood fixed that, creating the all-Red uniform Old Hornhead wore from issue #7 until the "Fall From Grace" storyline by Chichester and McDaniel.



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"AN INTERNAL STEAM BOILER"
Self-portrait 1

Here's Wally Wood as seen by Wally Wood, at the drawing board, cigarette in mouth, surrounded by many of the characters he is associated with. EC and Mad editor Harvey Kurtzman once said, "Wally had a tension in him, an intensity that he locked away in an internal steam boiler. I think it ate away his insides, and the work really used him up. I think he delivered some of the finest work that was ever drawn, and I think it's to his credit that he put so much intensity into his work at great sacrifice to himself."

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WITH THE SUPER SQUADRON
Wally Wood's All-Stars

All-Star Comics #63, 64, and 65, all by ... you guessed it. These books were among Wood's last work in mainstream comics. The last years of Wood's life were not pleasant ones. Faced with fits of depression and bouts with alcoholism, he found work primarily in creating x-rated parodies of Prince Valiant, Flash Gordon, Tarzan and even Alice in Wonderland for publications like National Screw. Then, things got worse.



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MORE WOOD BY WOOD
Self-portrait 2

Here's Wood as seen by Wood again, still at the drawing board, cigarette in hand -- but this time, a web-covered skull lurks ominously in the foreground. In the 1970s, following numerous bouts with alcoholism, Wood suffered kidney failure. In 1978, he had a stroke, and lost vision in one eye. Unwilling to face the end in pain and declining health, Wally Wood ended his own life on his own terms, on November 2, 1981.

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WALLY WOOD"S LEGACY
The T.H.U.N.D.E.R. Agents

What was the highpoint of Wally Wood's career? For my money, it's here: in the T.H.U.N.D.E.R. Agents Archives, featuring covers and lots of interior work by Wally Wood, the creator of the series. T.H.U.N.D.E.R., which stood for the Higher United Nations Defense Enforcement Reserves, was a team of superheroes such as Dynamo, NoMan and Menthor. (Click the pics to go to their Amazon.com page!) Wood's artwork on this series is just plain beautiful to look at. It isn't like Kirby, it isn't like Adams. It isn't like anyone else. He is a true original. Is it not the mark of a brilliant creator that we may say of his work, which can certainly be said of Wood, "He was the one and only." Happy Birthday Woody. You are remembered!


THE END
COMING TOMORROW:
Batman Through the Years!