WallyWood WeirdScience 14 1500 crop

with wally wood at the EC fan addict convention

THE EC FAN ADDICT CONVENTION of 1972—the first last only EC Fan Ad­dict Convention—was held on Memo­rial Day weekend (May 26-28) at the Hotel McAlpin in New York City. I went with the love-of-my-life, Chris­tine Grala, the most beau­tiful woman in the Big Apple for one weekend! We had a room at the hotel and so were set to have a fab­u­lous, fun-filled, ro­mantic weekend.

Upon paying the $15 fee for two ad­mis­sions, we were handed a couple of the event’s con­ven­tion books. The book was ti­tled EC Lives! and fea­tured a black and white drawing by EC stal­wart Wal­lace “Wally” Wood, per­haps the finest comic book artist of all time.

Clutching these beau­ties, we en­tered Shangri-La …

 

EC comics were per­haps the finest comic books that the Amer­ican comic book in­dustry had ever pro­duced.

 

For the rest of the event, Chris­tine and I met many of the people who had made what were per­haps the finest comic books that the Amer­ican comic book in­dustry had ever pro­duced.

And I am not going into any de­tail here on just what made them so ex­cep­tional, but suf­fice to say that EC comics may still stake that claim forty years later—despite all the brouhaha that has ac­com­pa­nied so many of the Marvel and DC product and their movie spin-offs since then!

 

Wally Wood’s oh-so-perfect cover il­lus­tra­tion for the 1972 EC Fan Ad­dict Con­ven­tion’s fan­book gives us one of his ado­les­cent he­roes ac­com­pa­nied by one of his fa­mous volup­tuous babes—nearly nakedly going where no volup­tuous babe has gone be­fore. They are con­fronting an un­seen ten­ta­cled thingie that evokes a word bal­loon from our in­trepid hero: “Good Lord! It’s alive!” 

Jim Steranko was there!

The req­ui­site huckster’s room (which wasn’t re­ally very large for a New York show) was filled with any­thing and every­thing that could be as­so­ci­ated with EC comics or its cre­ators. One of the standout dealers that day was Jim Ster­anko, one of the hottest artists in the comic book in­dustry.

He was also a single man en­joying his status by showing up with two very at­trac­tive fe­male “helpers”—and even he was staring at Chris­tine when­ever the op­por­tu­nity pre­sented it­self.

I in­ten­tion­ally strolled her past his table sev­eral times, without her knowing she was on dis­play. I was 20-years old and just growing out of my in­se­cure, bul­lied teen years and knowing that such a cock-of-the-walk rec­og­nized Christine’s beauty and en­vied me made me feel even more spe­cial than her pres­ence nor­mally did.1

 

With Wally Wood: cover of WEIRD SCIENCE FANTASY #29 with art by Frank Frazetta.

Weird Science-Fantasy #29 fea­tured this gor­geous drawing by Frank Frazetta, even then a legend in the in­dustry due to his paint­ings for a line of Conan the Bar­barian pa­per­back books for Lancer in the ’60s. Orig­i­nally in­tended for a Buck Rogers story years ear­lier, it was con­sid­ered too vi­o­lent for that comic book by its pub­lisher. Many afi­cionados and col­lec­tors con­sid­ered it to be the most out­standing cover ever put on a comic book.

But Wally Wood was the highlight

During the event, there was an auc­tion and I bid on a couple of Weird Science-Fantasy ti­tles but couldn’t af­ford to play with the big boys on those—especially the highly sought-after #29 with the amazing Frazetta cover. This was a comic that I longed for yet had never ac­tu­ally seen.

And there were var­ious spe­cial events, in­cluding three-panel dis­cus­sions with such EC faves as:

Bill Gaines, pub­lisher
Jerry De­Fuccio, editor/writer
Al Feld­stein, editor/writer
Harvey Kurtzman, editor/writer
Jack Davis, artist
Will Elder, artist
George Evans, artist
Joe Or­lando, artist
Marie Sev­erin, col­orist
Al Williamson, artist
Wally Wood, artist

The high­light for me was the one de­voted to sci­ence fic­tion as that was the genre where Wally Wood was most promi­nent. We sat in and lis­tened and I be­lieve that it was then and there that Wally of­fered a bit of ad­vice to young artists: that some­times the dif­fer­ence be­tween making a dead­line or not de­pended on reaching for a soda or a beer when you took a break. This was hu­morous upon hearing, un­set­tling upon re­flec­tion.2

Some­where during the day—perhaps at this panel—it was made known that while Wally would be signing au­to­graphs, he would not be doing any sketches for anyone. This was un­like the other artists, who spent a good por­tion of their time doing quick pencil or pen draw­ings for their fans.

When the dis­cus­sion ended, everyone filed out of the room. Everyone ex­cept Woody, who sat alone in the front on a fold-open chair. Chris­tine and I were sev­eral rows be­hind him and we had also sat through the de­par­ture of the other guests. We ap­proached him and asked for his au­to­graph. He took my con­ven­tion guide, opened it to page 9, and lifted his felt-tip pen to sign it.

 

Cover of WEIRD SCIENCE #14 with Wally Wood art.

One of two EC sci­ence fic­tion ti­tles was the justly fa­mous Weird Sci­ence. This is Volume 2 Number 14 (July-August 1952) with fan­tastic (lit­er­ally) cover art by my hero Wally Wood.

Who’s your favorite?

Be­fore pen reached paper, I in­ter­rupted: “Mr. Wood, would you please mind doing a quick sketch of my fa­vorite char­acter of yours?”

He looked up, tired—but not too tired to miss looking at Chris­tine ad­mir­ingly.

He smiled at her, then me, and asked, “Who’s your fa­vorite char­acter of mine?”

“Pipsqueak—of course!” 3

(Pip­squeak is a child-man, who looks like a naked doll for a little girl. In fact, he is a ma­ture being with ma­ture ap­petites, in­cluding lust for the beau­teous nymphet Nudine. Grom­mett only knows what part of Wood that Pip­squeak rep­re­sented, but I in­stinc­tively knew it was per­sonal and deep.)

Woody smiled, did a pro­file of the wee one in a few lines, and signed it.

I do be­lieve that I can say that a fine time was had by all who at­tended. (Es­pe­cially Bill Gaines.) I was the only person to walk out of the McAlpin that day with a brand new Wally Wood drawing!

And I’ll never be cer­tain whether it was Pip­squeak or Chris­tine that got me that sketch …

 

FEATURED IMAGE: The image at the top of this page was cropped from the front cover of Weird Sci­ence #14, by Wally Wood. His male fig­ures al­ways ad heroic pro­por­tions rem­i­nis­cent of Hal Fos­ter’s fig­ures in Prince Valiant. For EC, his fe­males were usu­ally lovely and gra­cious. When in a hu­morous medium, his fe­males were often the hottest babes in the world of comic art!

 


FOOTNOTES:

1   Little did Chris­tine and I know that a few weeks from this fan­tastic weekend, Hur­ri­cane Agnes would cause the Susque­hanna River to flood the en­tirety of Wyoming Valley in Penn­syl­vania, which would in­di­rectly lead to out first last only fight and our breaking up for­ever.

2   Wally Wood suf­fered a life­time of in­ex­plic­able headaches and battled—often unsuccessfully—with al­co­holism. The man who took the time to draw a fan a pic­ture had the look that many of us would come to rec­og­nize in family, friends, even our­selves in the past thirty years: chronic de­pres­sion.

3   Did I sus­pecPip­squeakp­squesk was also Wood’s fa­vorite char­acter? Of course. Was I nonethe­less telling the truth? Of course.

 

With Wally Wood: self-portrait/caricature by Wood.

This is page 10 of the EC Fan Ad­dict Con­ven­tion fan­book, a self-portrait by Wood. Wally did his Pip­squeak for me in the upper right quarter of the page, above his last name. My copy of the book with that cher­ished sketch is in storage, but one day it won’t be and then I will be able to post it here!

 

 

     

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It’s aw­full site. Don’t waste my time.