Friday, May 10, 2013

Came The Dawn and Other Stories Illustrated By Wallace Wood

 Fantagraphics is quickly becoming THE go-to Publisher for historically important Comic Book material. Between their Donald Duck/Uncle Scrooge collections and their EC Artists' Library, they're really doing their part, and then some, to keep important, classic works in print.

 CAME THE DAWN AND OTHER STORIES ILLUSTRATED BY WALLACE WOOD is Volume 2 of "The Fantagraphics EC Artists' Library", which presents a generous sampling of stories by the Artist in question, as well as Biographical material, features about the history of EC Comics, and an Introduction that recaps each story and gives them historical and social context, as well as providing behind-the-scenes information, both about Wallace Wood and EC Comics.

 CAME THE DAWN runs the gamut of Woods' work fro EC, spanning 1950-1954, featuring stories from The Vault of Horror, The Crypt of Terror, The Haunt of Fear, Crime SuspenStories, and Tales From The Crypt. Early EC comics are nothing to write home about...the art has a thick, chunky sameness to it, no matter who drew it, and the wordy stories often lead to clunky endings. The early work presented here is valuable as a historic curiosity, enabling the reader to witness the evolution of Woods' artistic technique. He really hits his stride about halfway through the book, with the start of the Shock SuspenStories "Preachies", stories that (Quite bravely, considering that they were published over sixty years ago...) boldly tackled racism, lynch mobs, and The Ku Klux Klan. The "Preachies" pack just as much of a punch today as they must have when they were originally published. This is when EC really hit it's stride, and began presenting material that was vivid, exciting, and like nothing that had been seen before. Six decades later, it's still the gold standard that other comic books aspire to.

 Wallace Wood was, by all accounts, a deeply troubled man. He took his own life in 1981, dying from a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head. He left behind a massive body of work, some of it downright brilliant...CAME THE DAWN AND OTHER STORIES ILLUSTRATED BY WALLACE WOOD is a great place to discover the man and his legacy. Highly recommended.