Wallace Wood, whose nickname was Wally (which he himself disliked), kicked around in a series of odd jobs until World War II. Although he was still under-age, he managed to enlist in the military, serving in the Merchant Marine and later as a paratrooper. After the war, he graduated from New York's School of Visual Arts and began his comics career as a letterer and as an assistant on 'Terry and the Pirates' by George Wunder and on 'The Spirit' by Will Eisner.
Shock SuspenStories #9
In the period 1949-1950, Wallace Wood drew his first works for the romance titles by Fox and some science fiction titles by Avon, in cooperation with Joe Orlando. In 1950, Wood joined EC Comics and became known as the "Dean of the Comic Book Science Fiction." His earliest works were often in cooperation with Harry Harisson, who later moved on to become a successful science fiction writer.
Frontline Combat #7
Wood worked mainly on the Weird Science and Weird Fantasy comics, although his work for Shock SuspenStories is known as his best. Wood's artwork also appeared in Tales from the Crypt, Frontline Combat and Haunt of Fear. While working for EC, Wood also drew for Youthful, Avon, Trojan, Ziff-Davis and ACG.
After the collapse of EC's horror and terror comic book lines in 1956, due to the enforcement of the Comics Code, Wood went on to become on of the main artists of MAD, a funny comic book title for which he created a series of classic comic book parodies. He also moved on to other companies.
For Marvel, he was an illustrator on some of the early 'Daredevil' issues, while also drawing on 'The Avengers'. Between 1957 and 1967, he was a cover and interior artist for over 60 Galaxy Science Fiction stories. He also teamed up with Jack Kirby to ink some episodes of the newspaper strip 'Sky Masters' in 1958.
Between 1965 and 1968, Wood was the artistic director at Tower Comics, a company for which he created 'T.H.U.N.D.E.R. Agents. In 1966, he came up with his own underground comix magazine, Witzend. Besides his own work, the magazine also published work by Jeff Jones, Steve Ditko and Vaughn Bodé. Wood edited the comic until 1969.
He then moved on to draw for Warren's Creepy magazine and to create the sexy 'Cannon' and 'Sally Forth' for Overseas Weekly in 1971. During the 1970s, he was also present at DC, where he worked on 'Stalker' with Steve Ditko and on 'Hercules Unbound'.
In 1981, after a long career in comics, Wallace Wood took his own life rather than facing dependency on kidney dialysis, but his creative legacy will endure.
Wally Wood photograph © Bhob Stewart