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Friday, February 7, 2014

POST # 43 - "OVERWORKED!" by Wally Wood and Dan Adkins

Greetings, comic art lover!

Today's post features not one, but two wonderful artistic talents previously showcased herein.
Wally Wood is undoubtedly one of the greatest and most influential comic book artists to put pencil (and ink) to paper, and Dan Adkins is one of the most highly regarded artists to have had the honor to be associated with him. 

In 1966, Wood was the well-known and respected comic art virtuoso and the younger Adkins was a proficient craftsman beginning his professional journey.  At this point in his career, Wood had several up-and-coming burgeoning hopefuls working for him as assistants. In the book WALLY'S WORLD by Steve Starger and J. David Spurlock, a chronicle of  Wally Wood's life, Dan Adkins describes some of that time and their professional partnership and relationship together:

"Wally was 37 and I was 27 when we started working together around 1965...Wally laid out most of the stories, then it was up to the assistants to tighten the pencils - often using swipes from Wally's many files. Then Wally and/or I would ink. Even if I was inking, Wally would ink certain key items like the lead character's face - especially in frontal shots. Wally taught me what to leave out and influenced me to update my inking and feathering techniques."

"My favorite collaboration with Wally was "Overworked", which we did for Warren (Publishing). 
I got credit - for the first time - on that because of Steranko. Steranko visited the studio in the company of a sleepy-eyed blonde model. He had an idea for a solo book for Tower and Wally referred him to Samm Schwartz at Tower. Steranko and Schwartz didn't hit it off but some months later he was working for Marvel with full credit. Wally knew I was jealous so, without telling me, he signed my name on "Overworked" and then surprised me with it."

"After about a year and a half, we broke up badly. I was already doing work for Warren on my own and went to see Marvel about work, kind of behind Wally's back. They hired me and I called Wally to tell him I was leaving for Marvel. He was upset and said I should have come to tell him face to face. We did make up some years later at a convention around 1972."

"OVERWORKED" first appeared in print in the June 1966 issue of Warren's CREEPY #9, ostensibly with pencils by Adkins (working from Wood layouts as described above) and inked again by both in  conjunction. Writing credit was attributed to Archie Goodwin, who was both editor and head writer for CREEPY at the time, though in reprints of the story (notably in Eclipse Comics WORLD OF WOOD #1) it is Wood himself who is credited. Seeing that it has been documented that Goodwin frequently allowed artists plenty of creative latitude to choose what types of stories they wanted to work on, and with a visionary juggernaut and predominant artiste such as Wood, it is more than likely that the outline, if not the details of the story was in fact Wood's brain child, and Goodwin's contribution therefore possibly relatively minor. Another clue is the name of the protagonist in the story, comic artist Allan Wallace, a thinly disguised allusion to Wood himself , whose full name is Wallace Allan Wood. 

In the story, comic book artist Allan Wallace begins to lose control of his senses while, after being pressed for more work,  he attempts to complete his latest production to no avail. Drifting in and out of reality with increasing regularity and increasingly alarming results, it becomes clear that his latest production will remain unfinished, when it becomes evident that the artist is clearly and irreconcilably 




Wallace Wood became famous in the 1950's mainly for his incredible artwork done for EC Comics, in titles like WEIRD SCIENCE and IMPACT, and later in MAD, where his highly detailed panels were filled to overflowing with unmatched power and extreme minutia in his unrivaled style of chiaroscuro. A master of light and shadow on the comic page, as his career progressed he retained the elements of shading he had become known for, while eschewing the more highly complex and intricate detailing that had marked his EC work. Some critics of his later work bemoaned the newer, more simplified streamlined style, and Wood was notably affected and irritated by such criticism. How much pressure he felt can be assumed by the biographical element revealed to us in "OVERWORKED!".

Sadly, tragically, the world lost a pioneer and a genius when Wally Wood, after a decline in his health and his career,  committed suicide in 1981. He was only 54 years old.

Dan Adkins went on to produce many fine paintings and comic art for Warren, Tower, DC, and Marvel, where he drew for such characters as Sub-Mariner and Doctor Strange, and later became used primarily as an inker, where he utilized the detail and skills he developed under the tutelage of his one time mentor, Wally Wood.

 Dan Adkins passed away on May 3rd, 2013, at the age of 76.

Two greatly talented and individually gifted artists, 
they both left behind a legacy of inspired works that we can continue to enjoy.


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