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November 08, 2006 weds
November 8th, 2006

Recently I was visiting my neighborhood comic book store when I chanced upon a wonderful tome I had been anticipating.

Artists seem to go in and out of fashion. Remember how a few years ago people seemed to never get enough N.C. Wyeth? And before that it was Leyndecker? Meanwhile Howard Pyle, Andrew Loomis, Pettigrew and their contemporaries lay in obscurity but for the most ardent researchers.

Wally Wood's name is not as well known as it was say, twenty years ago, but among his contemporaries he was a giant of the cartooning and fantasy illustration world, who came to a tragic end. This book by Steve Starger and J. David Spurlock is the most concise and thorough work on the life of this curious man I have read. They rely on many oral histories and reminiscences, plus comments from other great artists like Frank Miller, Will Eisner,R. Crumb, John Romita, art speigelman and Jack Davis. They all attest to Wood's amazing output.

Mad Magazine, Weird Science, Sally Forth, Mars Attacks. While some are action adventure cartoonists and some were comedy specialists, Wood moved easily in all mediums. His action/sci fi/fantasy was very dramatic, his comic work very funny, his sexy stuff very sexy and his sentimental work very, you know...sentimental. His Disneyland Orgy poster for an alternative magazine called the Realist in 1966 was so on-model, that many assumed it was done by moonlighting Disney animators. How could someone outside the studio precincts draw the characters that well?

courtesy of

This is probably the only part of the Disney poster I can show thats not pornographic.

This lonely man who ended his life with a .44 Magnum on Halloween night 1981 was one of the great cartoonists of the twentieth century. Hopefully books like Wally's World and the Wally Wood Sketchbook will help to restore the lustre to his brilliant career and introduce new interest in his work.
Birthdays: Roman Emperor Nerva, Bram Stoker, Sir Edmund Halley, June Havoc, Margaret Mitchell, Joe Flynn- the cranky captain in the 60’s TV comedy McHales Navy, Ricky Lee Jones, Bonny Raitt, Dr. Christiaan Barnard, Ester Rolle, Katherine Hepburn., Parker Posey, Gretchen Mol, Tara Reid

1789- Elijah Craig first distilled whiskey from Indian corn and strained it through a wool blanket. He lived in Bourbon County, Kentucky, so the stuff soon became popularly known as Bourbon.

1793- In one of the positive results of the Reign of Terror, the French Revolutionary Government opens the royal art collection of the Louvre to the public as a museum.

1805- Lewis and Clark stand on the sand at the Pacific Ocean near the mouth of the Columbia River.

1880- Famous actress Sarah Bernhardt made her American stage debut in La Dame aux Camelias. She made a further ten tours of the US, all billed as Farewell Appearances.

1887- Dentist-gunfighter Doc Holliday dies of tuberculosis or consumption at 35. He knew he had it for a long time, and in those days it was considered fatal and incurable. Some say this knowledge is what made him such a bold pistolero. But unfortunately for him, he won all his gunfights and died in bed anyway. His last words after taking a shot of whiskey were:" Well, I'll be damned!"

1929- New York’s Museum of Modern Art opened.

1943- The first one man show of American abstract painter named Jackson Pollock. Pollock later created his brushless dripping form of painting that earned him the nickname:”Jack the Dripper”.

1965- The Days of Our Lives soap opera first premiered on TV.

1966- Former actor and SAG president Ronald Reagan elected Governor of California.

1991- Marion Barry was re-elected Mayor of Washington D.C. despite serving time for smoking crack cocaine. Comedian Chris Rock wondered:” Who did he run against? Who was so bad you’d rather vote for a crackhead?”