Comic Book Creator #17 Spring 2018 (magazine review).

It should hardly come as a surprise to seeing the cover of Comic Book Creator # 17 that the key subject is Wallace Allan Wood, occasionally called Wally, which he detested, preferring to be called Woody. From a British perspective, we tend to shorten forenames as a sign of endearment but some names tend to flow better when shortened.

David J. Hogan’s 21 page treaty of Woody’s history shows him to be a chain-smoking workaholic and although pictures of the cover vignettes of comics he worked on are shown, I do wish more of his art was shown here. Saying that, once I started reading his history, I kept reading until the end so make sure you give yourself plenty of time. If you haven’t got any of Woody’s work in your collection, a lot of it is available out there, then I hope reading here will encourage you to seek them out.

David Spurlock has an article reminding us that Woody redesigned Daredevil’s costume from yellow and black to its more customary red with the double DD, citing that yellow was a cowardly colour. Not 100% sure I would go along with that assessment as the likes of Quality/DC Comics the Ray and certainly Marvel’s Iron Man have yellow/gold in their colours.

Certainly the colour schemes of some of the 1930s-50s super-heroes were often even more questionable but for a Daredevil, then yes, red is appropriate. Since when do devils come in yellow? Er, Marvel’s Gargoyle and certainly Kirby’s Demon. Letting people like me think about the subject throws up all kinds of contradictions. Let’s hope the Disney TV studios heed and put Wallace Wood’s name in the acknowledgements in future episodes of ‘Daredevil’.

Then there was the jaw-drop with 6 pages of samples of Woody’s work from across his career, showing how versatile he was. Not everything, grant you, but enough for you to decide which you should pursue. Don’t forget, Woody advocated EC Comics to do a ‘Weird Science’ comicbook, so he was one of us.

I have to confess that I hadn’t really come across comicbook artist Ralph Reese, one of the people who was tutored by Woody. Seeing Reese’s entire career, one would call him a jobbing penciller and inker and never had anything deeply associated with him and little interest in super-heroes, hence only a little work in that direction, mostly inking Gil Kane Marvel Comics covers, some samples are shown here. What he does provide is a variety of information about a lot of the comicbook companies over the years he’s worked for which tends to indicate that artists are a commodity.

Finally, an interview with Hilary Barta, who moved between inking to pencilling and even the odd script over the years, as he took his time finding his place in comcbooks before his flair for parody and comedy was used more often. If you want something eye-watering then you need to read the royalty rates he had when ‘The New Mutants’ was selling well. These days, comicbook sales aren’t what they were. I do wonder if the comicbook companies have got their pricing right and when a title sales massively, then they should consider dropping to ensure more people pick it up.

Barta also proves the point, in America, that you don’t have to move from your home city to get work and sometimes can be an asset. If you ever wonder if you can find your niche in the comicbook industry and not necessarily super-heroes than Barta shows it is possible once your foot is through the door.

Both Reese and Barta’s interviews are by Jon B. Cooke, transcribed by Steven Thompson. ‘Comic Book Creator’ is a heavy read but worth pursuing if you have an interest in the people who create comics.

GF Willmetts

June 2018

(pub: TwoMorrows Publishing. 100 page illustrated magazine. Price: $ 9.95 (US). ISSN: 2330-2437. Direct from them, you can get it for $ 8.46 (US))

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