Showing posts with label wally wood. Show all posts
Showing posts with label wally wood. Show all posts

Saturday, December 03, 2016


That's the young Wally Wood above, maybe (I'm guessing) from the period just before Kurtzman began Mad in 1952. Wood was onboard starting with the very first issue.

That's Al Feldstein above, the artist and writer who became editor after Kurtzman left and the comic became a magazine.

Maybe there was some tension between the two men. Wood is said to have believed that the quality of writing had slipped under Feldstein and Feldstein described Wood as depressed and resistant to criticism.  Anyway the fateful day came when Wally delivered his famous last stories...all newspaper strip parodies... and Feldstein rejected them as "sloppy." Wally turned around and walked out for good.

Wood fans have long waited for someone to publish those last sloppy pages and finally someone has. Here (below) from the just published bio "The Life and Legend of Wallace Wood Vol.1" are the comic strips that got Wood fired.  Was Feldstein right? Were they sloppy? Judge for yourself.

Well, these certainly are wordy! Feldstein wasn't a bad writer...he wrote the fan favorite "My World"...but this wasn't his best work.

My guess is that Feldstein's plan was to contrast deliberately long-winded dialogue with with over-the-top funny drawings.  Unfortunately Wood had a painful medical condition that he attempted to self-medicate with alcohol. He also had a sleep problem. He just wasn't in a funny mood. Even so, you could argue that Wood's material was still adequate and Feldstein should have used it.

How would Wood have handled characters like these when he was healthy and inspired? Here's (above) an example of how he treated Little Orphan Melvin in the days when Mad was still a comic book.   

Wednesday, May 11, 2016


Until I saw a documentary on the subject at Steve's, it never occurred to me to compare the National Lampoon to Mad Magazine. After all, the two magazines were aimed at different audiences: Mad to high school kids and the Lampoon to college students and twenty-somethings. I liked both for different reasons, though Mad had already slipped into a rut by the time the Lampoon came out.

Later on, the Lampoon got in a rut as well but that didn't stop them from declaring war on Mad. Yes, war! They said Mad wasn't funny!

Well, I guess it wasn't by the time the Lampoon skewered them.

Yikes! NL's parody of Mad (above) was scathing. It drew blood! The Mad people must have had a bad day when they read it.

Mad took the criticism (above) to heart, however and, though it took years, eventually Mad adopted the Lampoon's adult, drug culture, dead baby joke, Republicans-Are-Mentally-Defective stance.

The problem was, that approach was obsolete by the time Mad adapted it.  Generation Y and the Millennials weren't averse to radical politics but they preferred to wrap it in a different kind of comedy.  

Mad lost its way. 

Since I'm a fan of the old Harvey Kurtzman Mad, I thought I'd mention a couple of things that magazine did right.

For one thing, Kutrzman's Mad (above) aimed for kids and adults alike. I'm not against cartoons for adults but the fact remains that kids form the core audience for cartooning and probably always will.  Deal them out and you deal out the future of your medium. You create a generational divide.

Also, Kurtzman's Mad put an emphasis on the unique artwork. The Lampoon was a writers magazine that used artists; Mad was an artists magazine that used writers. Too much of the Lampoon art was generic. 

Mad also had some first-rate artists in their best years, artists like Don Martin (above), Wally Wood and the young Jack Davis. The Lampoon had artists too, but they were mostly there to illustrate writers ideas. The writer was the star.

At the risk of stating the obvious, writers and artists see the world differently. If writers had conceived the Mad "Beautiful Girl" cover (above) they would have picked a specific target to make fun of...some female in the news who they thought deserving of ridicule. Mad artists like Basil Wolverton (above), on the other hand, seemed to prefer to make fun of the very idea of beauty. That's what artists do best.

Why that is, why cartoon art works best when addressing the human condition in general, I can't explain. Haw! I can already think of exceptions to what I just said, but for the sake of brevity I'll stick with my point.

Friday, November 13, 2015


I'll be moving in a few months and I won't be able to take half my heavy furniture. That means I'll have to buy a few new things when I get where I'm going and that's exciting. 

I plan to go for an eclectic blend of Charles Eames knock-offs (that's his work, above), Wright, Indiana Jones, Cliff May, Craftsman, Wally Wood, Mad Scientist, Calder and Carl Larsson. At one time or another I've blogged about all these influences on Uncle Eddie's Theory Corner, and now I get to try out some of these ideas in my own house.   

Lately I've taken a close look at modern furniture. Some ideas stand up to scrutiny and some don't. Like Mies van der Rohe's famous "Barcelona Chair" (above): I have to admit, it looks great, but...wait a minute... there are no arms! I like to rest my forearm on something when I sit, don't you?

I might give in and get just one Barcelona chair as an accent, but then I'll be sorely tempted to get an armless sofa to go with it. I'll need to steel myself to avoid that lest my living room look like a reception area.

Besides, I like to lie down and read on the sofa or even take a short nap there once in a while, and you need an arm for that. Why would anyone design a sofa without arms?

Then there's the Noguchi CoffeeTable. It's a beautiful work of art, no doubt, but is it functional?

 In the picture above, the table top is triangular and only the tip containing the green ashtray faces the sofa. That can't be right. What if someone on the far end of the sofa (off screen) wants to use the table? They can't.

If you turn the table around then the people sitting opposite get the awkward tip. Yikes! And look at the awkward dead space that surrounds the table!

Compare the triangular Noguchi Table just discussed to the rectangular, red marble coffee table above. I like this thing. The broad surface is available to everyone on the sofa, and there's plenty of room to stack the books I always have going. Marble adds psychological weight to counter the fear that the modern supports are too thin and flimsy.

 By the way, what do you think of the Windsor chairs surrounding the dining table in this picture? My current table uses chairs like that, and they've given me years of pleasure. It's a centuries-old design that still works. My only criticism is that the ones shown here all have arms which would be hard to slide under the table without pinching fingers.

Maybe I'll get lucky and find a new home with built-in bookshelves. If I can't then I'll rely mostly on a combination of George Nelson-type shelves (above), Ikea's "Billy" shelves, and some custom shelves that I'll tinker together myself. Eames made some good shelves which Nelson tweaked and improved.

George Nelson was a prolific artist. You might already own something he designed without knowing his sunburst clock or this asterisk clock (above).

Nelson's designs have a light and airy modern feel and they blend well with other styles, like the fabric pattern above.

Well, there's more I could say but I'll have to save it for another post.

Tuesday, August 11, 2015


Wally Wood fans might be familiar with this (above) puzzle Wood did in the late 50s. It illustrated a Mad Magazine article called "Mad Visits Corny Island." 

I have an original copy of the Mad that contained the article,but I never put the puzzle together, probably because I didn't want to cut up the magazine. I don't know why it didn't occur to me to Xerox the picture and cut up the copy, or to simply look it up on the net. Well, it occurred to me yesterday, so here it both versions. 

That's (above) a detail from the cut-up xerox...

...and here's (above) the original artwork, which I found on the net. Nifty, eh?

Monday, January 05, 2015


Above, that's a caricature of Al "Jazzbo" Collins the famous New York jazz DJ from the 50s. Below is an excerpt from a fairly recent Washington Post article which declares that jazz is dead. The upbeat tone of the pictures contradicts the negative tone of the article but I think I'll run them together and see what happens.

I love jazz myself. I don't see why it should be singled out for criticism when every other art form, even the best ones, have suffered the same decline over time. Even so, a site that calls itself "Theory Corner" shouldn't avoid controversy. Here's an abridgement of the article by Justin Moyer called "All That Jazz Isn't All That Great." See what you think.

Well, it goes on. Here's a link to the entire article, which is almost double the length of what you see here.

BTW, I stumbled on this jazz article from a mention on Mike Barrier's site. I went there to see if his new book is out. Apparently it's been out for a couple of weeks now, and it's on Kindle, too.

Tuesday, December 30, 2014


I had a wonderful Christmas but there was a lot to digest and it may be a few days or weeks before I can post about it. In the meantime here's something I reminisced to my kids about when they were here. It's an account of things I witnessed when I was a little kid in the 50s.

I was just a dimwitted kid in those days but even I could sense that it was a good time to be alive.

WWII vets must have dreamed of having their own house while they were freezing in foxholes, and in the 50s that dream became a reality for millions.

People were proud of their new lives and they liked to have their pictures taken with  symbols of prosperity. Here's (above) one symbol: formal clothes for kids, the kind that make little boys look like ventroloquist dummies. When I was forced to wear them I'd pray that other kids wouldn't see me. 

  Believe it or not, parents initially wanted their kids to watch TV. They thought it was educational. Haw! That didn't last long!

It must have been a great time to be a Dad.

It was the era of The Bombshell, the cinematic vamp who could turn men into drooling idiots.

The most worldly suburban women imitated the bombshells, I'm guessing by stuffing socks into their bras. It was only years later that I discovered that breasts don't naturally point straight up when women recline. 

Anyway, I didn't pay much attention to bombshell movies. I preferred the fare at the local kiddie matinee. This Theory Corner blog owes a lot to what I learned while watching sci fi in the dark.

It's worth mentioning that suburbia wasn't just for the middle class. Newspapers were always running articles about how it would soon be a feasible choice for anyone who could swing a loan for a few thousand bucks. Pre-fab was supposed to make it possible. Later on pre-fab fell into disrepute...I don't know why.

Once you had a house, the next step was to save up for a tail fin car. Check out this (above) Plymouth Belvedere convertible, just the thing to drive to...  

....the local Twist party! How do you like this room (above)? It looks like something out of Wally Wood. It only lacks driftwood sculpture and a mobile!

Actually few people in the 50s had a whole house full of furnishings that were up to date. My house was full of Art Deco with only a few 50s pieces. By the time we completely updated to 50s "moderne" it was the 60s and it was considered passe. 

Yes, the 50s suburbs were pretty darn good but that didn't stop dreamers from imagining something even better.

That something better was flying cars which every kid from that era desperately wanted. I think we're all traumatized because we didn't get them. 

So what happened to all this? Well, it's still with us in many ways, but people are a bit different now. 

Now we all like to think of ourselves as rebels.

BTW: Thanks to Steve for the great photo of Diana Dors.