The enduring influence of the late Wallace Wood can’t be overstated. From his work at EC, MAD, Marvel, and beyond, Wood left an indelible mark on American culture that resonates to this day. Fantagraphics Bookstore & Gallery celebrates the legacy of this amazing artist through February 9.
Wallace Wood came to prominence with his work for EC comic books, which enjoyed circulation in the millions, but were vilified by politicians, preachers, and crusading child psychologist Dr. Fredric Wertham. Together, they convinced the public that these comics were the cause of juvenile delinquency and social deviance. The establishment of the Comics Code Authority effectively banned these books from circulation. Ironically, EC turned its attention to MAD magazine, which indoctrinated an entire generation in the fundamental principle of art in the service of degenerate discourse. Wood’s subversive parodies of popular comic strips, movies, and superhero comic book characters in the pages of MAD informed young readers that nothing was sacred and helped set the stage for the social upheaval of the sixties that followed.
Wood’s mistreatment as a member of the Marvel “Bullpen” at the hands of Stan Lee soured him on the dominant work-for-hire model of comics production. In 1966, he self-published the pioneering witzend anthology, which introduced readers to emerging artists like Art Spiegelman, while offering creative freedom to established cartoonists like Steve Ditko, Will Elder, Frank Frazetta, Reed Crandall and others. This independent effort became a template for the underground comics movement. As R. Crumb would later observe, Wood was “one of the masters we all studied for his dazzling technique. I still study and marvel at his work.”
In recent years, Fantagraphics Books has published no fewer than six collections of Wallace Wood comics: Cannon, Came the Dawn, Spawn of Mars, witzend, Shattuck, and The Life and Legend of Wallace Wood. Don’t miss the tribute to this accomplished artist at Fantagraphics Bookstore, located at 1201 S. Vale Street in the heart of Seattle’s lively Georgetown arts community. Open daily 11:30 to 8:00 PM, Sundays until 5:00 PM. Phone 206-658-0110.