Review: Wally Wood's 'Eerie Tales of Crime & Horror'

Wally Wood: Eerie Tales of Crime & Horror

Collecting non-comprehensive Wally Wood material 1950-59

Writers: Various

Artists: Wally Wood, various

Vanguard, $39.95, color, 208 pages

I love Wally Wood, but this book isn't for everyone.

The bulk of this material is from the very beginning of Wally Wood's career, mostly at tiny publishers, and before his famous affiliation with EC Comics. Specifically, the material is from March 1950 through November 1951, with a couple of covers that stretch into 1952, plus one lonely story from 1959.

From that you can deduce that Wood was not at the top of his game here, and that is the case. Some of these stories strongly suggest the greatness to come, with blocking and occasional lighting effects that are clearly the work of the Wally Wood we know from EC, T.H.U.N.D.E.R. Agents and early Daredevil. "Dr. Fu Manchu" from The Mask of Dr. Fu Manchu #1 (Avon, 1951) is one such; it's 25 pages where the poses and some of the lighting effects are clearly Wally Wood, and a bit more polished than some of the other work in the book.

Other stories that clearly benefit from Woody's attention include:

  • "The Devil in Petticoats" (with Manny Stallman, Atomic Spy Cases #1, Avon, Mar 50), which has a female spy who occasionally looks like one of Wally Wood's gorgeous babes;
  • "Action in Korea," "Fight with the Underground" and "Flight from the Gestapo" (Captain Steve Savage #1, Avon, Apr 50), which is interesting for Wood playing with jet planes, explosions and bullet holes, which would later become signature elements;
  • "The Repulsive Dwarf" (with Harry Harrison, A Star Presentation #3, Fox, May 50), with another occasionally gorgeous gal;
  • "The Thing from the Sea" (Eerie #2, Avon, Aug 51) and "The Case of the Painted Beast" (with Sid Check and Paul Gattuso, Eerie #3, Avon, Oct 51), two chillers playing with many of the tricks Wood would use to good effect at EC; and
  • "Edna Murray, the Kissing Bandit" (with Sid Check, Gangsters & Gun Molls #2, Avon, Nov 51), with another trademark Woody babe.

Plus there are some fascinating combinations, such as Wally Wood with:

  • Al Williamson, Frank Frazetta and Joe Orlando, in "Skull of the Sorceror" (Forbidden Worlds #3, ACG, Nov 51)
  • Joe Kubert and Carmine Infantino, in "It Roams These Hills" (Attack on Planet Mars #1, Avon, 1951); and
  • Jack Kirby, in "The Creatures in the Volcano" (Journey into Mystery #51, Atlas, Mar 59).

But the bulk of this material is not only unrecognizable as having anything to do with Wally Wood, it's simply dreadful. Stories like the 25-page "Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde" (A Star Presentation #3), "The Shanghai Chicken" (Inside Crime #3, Fox, Jul 50) and "Legs Diamond" (Martin Kane #1, Fox, Jun 50) are credited to Wally Wood, sometimes with others, but I sure don't see it. Not only do they show no obvious Wally Wood influence, they're just plain gawdawful.

Finally, this book, like most Vanguard publications, has more typos, grammatical mistakes and other typographical errors than I am comfortable with, given that I am a professional copy editor and all. Your mileage may vary.

So I can only really recommend this book to Wally Wood completists/fanatics or historians. I think the average comics fan could safely pass it by.

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