Weeeeellll...here we are with Wally Wood again! I hope you'll indulge me with one more post about about him...this time about the subjects he chooses to draw.
Of course Wood didn't write his own stories in this period. This one was ably written by Ray Bradbury. Ray packs the story with great visual ideas and Wood, as usual, adds a bunch of his own. Sorry I had to crop out some of the dialogue in order to fit everything on the scanner.
How do you like Wood's vision of the future? We see the robot servants, the hole in the floor that reveals that the apartment is probably on the 50th floor, the plants that grow through the bookshelf, the planetary models hanging from the ceiling...it's a feast for the eyes. The guy in the story hates it, but Wood and Ray can't hide their love for it. This is an important point, and I'll come back to it.
Here's (above) an excerpt from a story by Feldstein which contains lots of favorite Wood subjects: monsters, gorgeous babes in fantastic settings, and rockets flown as casually as people ride automobiles now. This is the stylized future the audience craves to see.
Other comic book artists draw the same things, but view them as background for the story. For Wood the atmospheric elements are the story. He figures that plot and character are the writer's job...it's the artist's job to provide mythic, aspirational subtext and unforgettable images. Wood isn't just an illustrator of other people's ideas, he's a partner.
Another point I want to make is that Wood always chooses to draw things which have romantic connotation. By way of an example, take a look at the picture above. The oddly-scaled hamlet is arrayed around the rocket like Plasticville houses under a Christmas tree. The houses look tiny like they were put together with glue. It's an appealing image for people who grew up with toys like that.
Come to think of it, look at the picture of the spaceship interior (above, right). It's loaded with gizmos. Every boy in that era had a fantasy that he was the master of high technology and could use it as no other generation had before to explore the universe. Wood took that fantasy and expanded on it. He validated what we felt and cheered us on.
Maybe at this point you're thinking, "So what? All the sci-fi artists of that time did that." Well no, not really. For contrast I thought I'd put up this impressive panel by Wood's friend, Al Williamson. It's a terrific drawing, but it's...well...generic. The architecture isn't caricatured and no point of view is expressed. It illustrates the story and nothing more. And the characters...they're just well-drawn standards.
There's nothing standard about Wood's EC characters (above). They're iconic, but that's not the same thing. There's not much acting in these poses, but a great deal of attention is given to the mythic, timeless qualities the characters are trying to project.
BYW: Animation Resources recently put up some great scans of EC horror covers. You can see them at: http://animationresources.org/?p=6882