Biography: Wally Wood

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One Response to “Biography: Wally Wood”

  1. Ed M. says:

    Wallace Allan Wood (June 17, 1927 – November 2, 1981) was an American comic book writer, artist and independent publisher, best known for his work in EC Comics and Mad. He was one of Mad’s founding cartoonists in 1952. Although much of his early professional artwork is signed Wallace Wood, he became known as Wally Wood, a name he claimed to dislike.[1] Within the comics community, he was also known as Woody, a name he sometimes used as a signature.

    In addition to Wood’s hundreds of comic book pages, he illustrated for books and magazines while also working in a variety of other areas — advertising; packaging and product illustrations; gag cartoons; record album covers; posters; syndicated comic strips; and trading cards, including work on Topps’ landmark Mars Attacks set.

    EC publisher William Gaines once stated, “Wally may have been our most troubled artist… I’m not suggesting any connection, but he may have been our most brilliant”.

    He was the inaugural inductee into the comic book industry’s Jack Kirby Hall of Fame in 1989, and was posthumously inducted into the Will Eisner Comic Book Hall of Fame in 1992.

    Wood was married three times. His first marriage was to artist Tatjana Wood, who later did extensive work as a comic-book colorist. Their marriage ended in the late 1960s. His second marriage, to Marilyn Silver, also ended in divorce.

    For much of his adult life, Wood suffered from chronic, unexplainable headaches. In the 1970s, following bouts with alcoholism, Wood suffered from kidney failure. A stroke in 1978 caused a loss of vision in one eye. Faced with declining health and career prospects, he committed suicide by gunshot in Los Angeles, California three years later. Toward the end of his life, an embittered Wood would say, according to one biography, “If I had it all to do over again, I’d cut off my hands.”

    In 1972, EC editor Harvey Kurtzman, who worked closely with Wood during the 1950s, said:

    Wally had a tension in him, an intensity that he locked away in an internal steam boiler. I think it ate away his insides, and the work really used him up. I think he delivered some of the finest work that was ever drawn, and I think it’s to his credit that he put so much intensity into his work at great sacrifice to himself.

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