KID SHIRT

Saturday, September 23, 2006

HORROR OF PARTY BEACH, WALLY WOOD & OTHER STORIES

More swag, this time courtesy of Circle Brophy, who has done, I have to say, an incredible job customising his cell-phone with nail-varnish, glitter, beads and Indonesian religious stickers...

"Horror of Beach Party" is something I remember seeing in Yeovil's legendary Bonus Books shop back in the 60s, but sadly never bought:



Didn't realise it was published by Warren, who also brought out the Eerie and Creepy black n white horror comics that ran strips by Neal Adams, Ralph Reese, Tom Sutton, etc. They also published Famous Monsters of Filmland wh/ I spent many a happy afternoon reading in the garden when I was 7, 8, 9...and wh/ turned me onto the old Frankenstein/Dracula/Wolfman films put out by Universal in the 30s and 40s. When Westward TV finally ran pretty much the whole run of classic Universal horrors (in sequence!) on friday nights when I was 11, it blew my mind and set me off down a strange cinematic flightpath that I'm still following today...



What I didn't realise was that this photo-film adaptation had 'story adaptation and art direction' by Wallace 'Wally' Wood, one of my all-time comic-book art heroes. This was published in '64, so I guess Wood woulda also been drawing Daredevil for Marvel roundabout then too...

Even though it's a photo-magazine, Wood used to letter a lot of his own stuff and the captions and sound-effects look like he personally hand-wrote them. There weren't a lot of pro comic-book letterers back then, so it's relatively easy to spot the lettering styles of most of the big names (since you're basically reading someone's hand-writing), particularly from how they used to design their sound-effects. Wood's own sound-effects lettering is fairly distinct, in that it resembles Sam Rosen's, but is, errrr, slightly different. Difficult to quantify exactly, but, yeah, the lettering on this looks similar to Wood's work on the T.H.U.N.D.E.R. Agents comics published by Tower Comics in the mid-60s after he had a falling-out with Stan Lee and left Marvel...a tragedy, really, as the world was then deprived of seeing his work on other Marvel characters: his version of Prince Namor, the Sub-Mariner (who guested in an early Daredevil), is sublime...I can only wonder what his versions of other Marvel characters might have been like. He filled-out/inked Kirby's breakdowns and pencils on a handful of occasions, and those tantalising glimpses of 'his' version the Fantastic Four and The Avengers make me salivate just thinking about what might've been. A parallel universe Silver Age Wally Wood run on the FF or Spidey or Doc Strange...wow.

Not sure who painted the cover of "Horror of Beach Party"...I'm not convinced it was Wood, but there's a certain Wood-ishness about the woman's face. I wonder if he drew a guideline sketch of the woman from a film-still and someone else painted it based on his design. Dunno...

Anyway, moving on to this (again, from Circ...thanks, man, yr the best!):



Yep, this'll get the PKD fans frothing at the mouth, but a look at the interior reveals a story by Jack Sharkey that is "Illustrated by Wood". Yep, it's Wally again, as a quick check reveals:



Wood drew some of the most gorgeous women in comics ever. He just couldn't help himself, and this is no exception. I've not seen him use cross-hatching/shading before (possibly he used this technique to achieve a kinda montage effect); this is almost 'sketchy' by his standards: his style was catagorised by clean, confident clear-line figure-work and bold-black inking; not a line out of place. The copyright on this is '63, so from the same era as the Beach Party book and an interesting insight into the output of a jobbing illustrator working to pay the rent. Wood was an alcoholic and, though he was a complete professional as far as deadlines and work-quality were concerned, there are stories that he was sometimes difficult to work with. A perfectionist, maybe? I dunno...I never met the guy and he's long-gone, but he shared a studio with Dan Adkins (another art hero!) for some time and Dan has many affectionate anecdotal stories about him. Wally's work, though, speaks volumes for itself. I'll post some of his better-known covers at some point...

Another issue of Frederik Pohl's "Worlds of Tomorrow" anthology, this time with a cover by Virgil Finlay, another comics/illustrative legend who's prob. been forgotten by today's AmeriManga-fixated generation (go check him; he's one of the greats)...also contains some interior work by Gray Morrow as well as another PKD story:



Gray Morrow also turns up in this wonderful "illustrated Roger Zelazny" collection:



I'm slightly ambivalent about Morrow's work, but when he's good, he's great. There's some nice colour-plates here for Zelazny's "Nine Princes in Amber", and some occasionally stunning line-work...

This, for example, reminds me vaguely of, I dunno, the 70s work of Spanish artist Esteban Maroto for Marvel's 70s B & W horror-mags like Dracula Lives! and Vampire Tales, maybe:



Meanwhile, this is from a late 70's copy of "Barlowe's Guide to Extra-terrestrials" by Wayne Douglas Barlowe



Some lovely sketches in here too (the guy's got a great grasp of line-work and anatomical construction), but, dammit: go track yr own copy: it's blinkin' mental!

Circ and I thought that maybe he'd done also the illos for "The Joy of Sex", but a bit of further research revealed that the original edition was actually done (apparently) by Chris Foss of hi-Concept pan-galactic hard-engineering Panther-edition 'Doc' Smith Lensmen cover infamy. Hell, I never knew that!

Barlowe also covers some of the alien species from the Lensmen books, such as The Valentians (I kinda like to have my own un-corrected mind-picture versions of these creatures, but this is so wigged-out that I dig it totally):



Anyway, thanks to Circ for tha swag...(the pics are all in high-ish res, so you can enlarge or download and use as wallpapers, etc: something I always try and do if I can...all I ask of you is to respect these guys' copyright, but keep that mad art vibe out there: spread the word, but build yr own cool shit...)

So, uh, now you know.

HOLY HAIL #2

Following on from the post below...I see that Holy Hail are actually hitting the UK in about a week's time...

They're playing Ricky Haley's marvellously eclectic Liars Club in Nottingham on Sept 30th (big up Ricky & Jane from Alt-delete Recordings!)...and also Brighton on Oct. 6th at The Do, co-hosted, I believe by our blogging compadres over at Twenty Jazz-Funk Greats...there's also some dates supporting The Rapture too...

Recommend you check 'em out while they're in the UK.