Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Number 73

Wood and Severin Post Code

When the Comics Code was implemented in late '54 it not only spelled the death knell for many comic book companies, already reeling under the onslaught of television, but found many artists scrambling for work.

Some artists quit the business entirely, but some stayed behind, slogging it out with what work remained. Wallace Wood and John Severin, formerly stars at EC Comics, were no exceptions.

One of the comic book companies still standing in 1956 was Atlas, formerly Timely, and now Marvel. An implosion of titles was a year off but in 1956, over a year after the Code went into effect, they were still churning out comics.

These stories, "Inside the Dark Cave," and "He Was Nobody," from Journey Into Mystery #51, are good examples of how the Comics Code emasculated comics. Just a couple of years before these stories wouldn't have been published in this form. They'd have a murder or two, or skeletons, or vampires. Early Code-approved stories can be so pallid that the only thing that makes them interesting is the artwork.

And what good artwork! Severin does a wonderful job drawing Leprechauns, and Wood's drawings, his settings of a rain-engulfed town with a bursting dam, are a lot better than the paycheck he sold the artwork for. Wood even lettered his story, probably picking up a couple extra $ per page for the chore.

The men who made and stayed in comics were a brave and hardy lot, dodging the falling bricks of a crumbling industry. I'm glad neither Severin or Wood dropped their comics work during those insecure and difficult times. In many ways their best years were ahead of them.

1 comment:

ET said...

The last time I noticed John Severin he was drawing the covers for CRACK a few years back. He is in his 80s now, I hope he is still living.
I am reading a good book now called "Against the Grain, Mad Artist Wallace Wood" edited by Bhob Stewart.
speaking of the Comic Book Code Authority, I remember when it went into effect and the comic industry changed a lot and I was pretty unhappy about it, and I was looking/reading a Navy war comic that had the little approval stamp on the cover and on the inside was a sailor doing something on the deck, I forgot what, but the guy had a tattoo on his forearm with bare chested hula dancer and she had nipples! That got by them!