Thursday, November 02, 2006

Books of and about COMICS

Russ Cochran, the man responsible for the beautiful black and white EC box-sets that came out in the 1990's, is back at the trough once more, initating a comprehensive hardcover EC "Archive" series, this time in full color. Slightly larger than the original comics, but not as big as the B/W reprints, the first book in the series reprints the first six issues of WEIRD SCIENCE. These are not the best of EC's Sci-Fi stories, but you can see publisher Bill Gaines and editor Al Feldstein trying to find their sea legs, and Harvey Kurtzman's stuff is great. That said, as reprints go, I frankly prefer the (much cheaper) color newsprint editions that came out in the late '90's/early 2000's. Cochran has gone to great lengths to give the color in the swanky Archive edition some softness and texture, but to get the real feel of the way the stories as they came out originally, the "comic book" versions are still the best.

Also just out is a comprehensive biography on comic artist Wally Wood, "Wally's World." (Availing in softcover and a limited hardcover edition with an extra art portfolio). Wood was a mainstay at EC and then MAD magazine, and one of the classiest comic book artists ever. Unfortunately, he was also a very troubled man, epitomized by his suicide in 1981. The bio goes into an extreme, sometimes TOO extreme detail (did we really need to know about Wood's wife's visit to the dentist?), but it also explores his time with EC, Marvel, his glory days at Tower (THUNDER AGENTS) and then the slow, bitter decline. Since I'm fascinated with comics history, and was always a huge fan of Wood's work, hey, I like the book, but it may not be for the casual fan.

Both books are available from Amazon or comic shops...


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