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WALLY WOOD: TAKE TWO

Wally’s World: The Brilliant Life and Tragic Death of Wally Wood, the World Second-Best Comic Book Artist
by Steve Starger and J. David Spurlock
224 pages
7x10
hardcover
b/w with a color section
2006 Vangard
$34.95

Wallace Wood photoThis volume is worthy for its text rather than its pictures. The text seems a somewhat novelized recitation of the facts of Wood’s life and career — early partnerships with Harry Harrison and Joe Orlando, work for Avon, Fox, Trojan; then EC Comics, Will Eisner’s Spirit, then, after the Wertham collapse, Marvel, Tower, Charlton, Warren, Topps, followed by risque strips for Cavalcade and other magazines, then Wood’s Witzend. But the authors quote Wood’s friends and associates as factual underpinning, making the work reasonably trustworthy despite its occasional flights of narrative imagination (especially in regaling us with the stories of Wood’s youth). The art, alas, is reproduced in snippets and minuscule fragments. A 32-page color section reproduces covers mostly.

The book’s opening chapter is a detailed description of the death scene at Unit 71 of the apartment building at 15150 Parthenia Street in Van Nuys, California, where Wood was living when he committed suicide rather than (it is supposed) endure endless dialysis treatments for a failed kidney. Grim way to begin a book, but Wood’s finish is somehow an appropriately poetic end to a brilliant career that went into decline with his health.
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