June 17, 2013
WALLACE “WALLY” WOOD (1927—1981) is one of those pop creators you remember on his own, not connected to any colony or company — which sets him apart, but also above, the very prominent points on the 20th century cultural landscape you do think of him profoundly affecting. The hyperreal detail of every circuit and tube in his signature sci-fi setpieces — with which he made himself and helped make EC Comics famous as an early symbol of sophistication in the comicbook medium during the 1950s — were a high-tech Pre-Raphaelite canvas, and an anticipation of the hi-res CGI of a coming century (and frequently in the spaceship and revived-dinosaur settings that medium so often arcs to). The fluid choreography yet static composition he brought to later costumed action, redefining Marvel’s Daredevil in the visual form we still know now (striking but revolutionarily uniform all-red suit), were like statue groupings of antiquity, frozen in classic solidity yet levitatingly lighter than air, a Matrix premonition with an ancient Greek seriousness. He lasted very briefly on that co-re-creation, striking out alone to spearhead 1960s Marvel competitor Tower Comics, a legendary third-party enterprise known for its photographic-seeming rendering and its stories’ realistic consequence (all the imprint’s flagship “T.H.U.N.D.E.R. Agents” were at risk of shortening their lifespans with their body-enhancing Q-like strike-force gadgetry). He cut a cowboy blues album, and led some of the earliest indie comics, a senior statesman lending his authority to the uprising in the artform’s corporate culture and its common future. (He was also more than a bit of a pornographer, but that turned out to be the leading industry of the future too.) And then he killed himself, leaving the future to everyone else.
On his or her birthday, HiLobrow irregularly pays tribute to one of our high-, low-, no-, or hilobrow heroes. Also born this date: Jello Biafra.
READ MORE about members of the Postmodernist Generation (1924-33).