Witzend (Wallace Wood)

#1 - 1966 - 36 pages + cover

With encouragement from his fellow artists, Wally Wood started this publication in 1966 (orinigal title - Et Cetera) to display original, unedited artwork, and to allow the artists to retain the copyrights for their work.  The Fleagles (Al Williamson, Frank Frazetta, Angelo Torres, Roy Krenkel) produced the first story ("Savage World!") with Williamson signing for the final artwork.  Buster Crabbe (1908-1983) is apparently the lead character as Frazetta's portrait of Crabbe fills the back cover.  The second multi-page story ("Sinner") is a cautionary tale by Archie Goodwin (uncredited).  The major effort by Wood is the first episode of "Animan" - a jungle story with classic brushwork by the best comic book artist of them all.  The volume ends with the clever ten-page "Moon Critters" by Jack Gaughan (1930-1985).  This ambitious new publication was well-received by those who read it but Wood & Co. lacked a nationwide distribution system.  In the first issue, Wood calls for orders one issue at a time since the publication schedule may be sporadic, quarterly if all goes well but possible just an annual.  [JAM 2/1/2015]

#2 - 1967 - 36 pages+

The all-stars of the comic art industry rushed to show their work in the second issue.  Science-fiction artist and long-time Wood friend, Gray Morrow (1934-2001) contributed the lead story ("Orion") about the "never-ending quest for the seven portals to the seven bridges to the seven stars ..."  Marvel superstar Steve Ditko (Spider-Man, Doctor Strange, etc.) joined the fun with "Midnight Special".  Warren Sattler, artist for Playboy, National Lampoon and Cracked introduced a nice, lovable dragon ("... a feeble fable").  Art Spiegelman (Maus, The New Yorker, et al.) drew an underground-like, unscripted tale (?) about "a flash of insight ..."  Also, fellow Mad friends Harvey Kurtzman, Will Elder and Don Martin rushed to support Wood's new "hobby" with some of their file-cabinet stuff.  The outpouring of positive vibrations for the first two issues caused Wood to commit to at least two more issues by subscription-only even though he'd prefer that "much of (his) time ... be devoted to art work ..." as opposed to subscription fulfillment.  However, with "Associate Editors" John Benson, Bill Pearson and Mike McInerney lending their capable hands, Woody would soon reach his goal of becoming "a contributor" to his creation.  [JAM 2/2/2015]

#3 - 1967 - 36 pages+

Woody introduced "Pipsqueak Papers" in this issue in place of a third "Animan" installment (Pip is better).  Ditko ("Mr. A"), Kurtzman (more "Hey Look!"), Crandall ("ERB" drawings), Spiegelman (misc.) and Frazetta ("Last Chance") are back with some more great drawings.  Richard Bassford ("Vampirella" et al.) started a strange sci-fi adventure ("Invaders!").  And, Roger Brand (1943-1985) from the underground comics offered an unusual tale ("The Chase").  Woody's editorials are optimistic but he continued to back away from this venture by giving the title of "editor" to Bill Pearson.  The continuity of each of the first three issues is elusive but the quality of art is undeniably excellent.  I could do without the poetry.  [JAM 2/3/2015]

#4 - 1968 - 36 pages+

Publisher Wood dominated the fourth issue with three of his current projects ("Pipsqueak Papers", "The Rejects" and "The World of the Wizard King"), the front cover (knight/castle), a page of non-editorial comments and a poem.  Woody's art is great as always but there is nothing special about his story-telling.  Steve Ditko came through with another ten-page episode of "Mr. A" but I wonder why this crime-fighter becomes a super-hero when he puts on his white mask.  The best art in the issue is by Reed Crandall ("Edgar Rice Burroughs Part 3") and Roger Brand ("Virtue Ever Triumphant").  The variety of the Crandall drawings is aided by the great writing of Mr. Burroughs.  Brand's story seems to come out of nowhere and I am not where he can go with Kaloon and her suitors.  The back cover is another great action drawing by the incomparable Frank Frazetta.  According to "Word from Wood", Witzend is being well-received by the fan base as he promises four more issues and requests some more advance payment.  [JAM 2/6/2015]

#5 - 1968 - 36 pages+

The big news in #5 was the arrival of Vaughn Bode (1941-1975) who achieved fame in the early 1970s with his Cheech Wizard strip in National Lampoon.  For Witzend, Bode drew "The Junkwaffel Invasion of Kruppenny Island" that was obviously influenced by his tour of duty in Vietnam.  Wood's Pipsqueak and Wizard King returned for this issue but The Rejects did not return and we are still waiting for Animan 3.  Both of Wood's offerings involve young male protagonists who are surrounded by fully-grown, beautiful, mostly-unclad women.  There is also an eight-page turtle-snake-dog adventure by "JaF" who may or may not be an accomplished artist.  The back cover by Ed Paschke (1939-2004) is an excellent Bugs Bunny/Porky Pig parody with an unfortunate variation of Petunia Pig.  [JAM 2/6/2015]

#6 - 1969 - 38 pages+

The curious article in W6 is Wood's version of "The Spawn of Venus" that was scheduled to appear in Three Dimensional EC Classics #3 in 1954 but never published because of problems related to the Comic Code.  Wood thanks Bill Gaines "for letting us see this never-before-published classic!"  The original "Spawn" was written by Al Feldstein for Weird Science #6 in 1951.  The story is basically the same as The Blob movie starring Steve McQueen.  The movie credits "Irvine H. Millgate" for the idea of The Blob.  W6 has been labeled as the "Daring Compromise Issue" by Wood.  The new publisher is Ed Glasser with Bill Pearson listed as editor.  Wallace Wood is the "Illustrious Founder".  Other changes include a subscription form, a full page of comics-related ads, and the first interview (Will Eisner) by John Benson.  Steve Ditko anchors the issue with "The Avenging World", his angry response to all politics, economies and social systems in the known world.  The new look is more magazine-like with less of the Wood touch.  [JAM 2/7/2015]

#7 - 1970 - 44 pages+

In this issue, Bill Pearson confirmed that he had purchased Witzend from Wood for $1 after W4 with the understanding that Pearson would complete at least four more issues.  With the cover price increased to $1.50, Pearson took the new title: "Editor and Publisher".  The Wood touch is mostly absent from the magazine with one note about "Wizard King (that) had to be delayed until the next issue because of Wally's commitments on his newest project ..."  However, the editorial about taxes and many of the answers to subscriber's letters seem to have the infamous tone of Wood sarcasm.  Vaughn Bode provided the extremely-violent cover drawing and the lead story "Cobalt 60" which give W7 the look of the underground comics that were popular on newsstands in the !970s.  Steve Ditko drew another chapter of his right-wing manifesto ("Mr A"/"The Avenging World").  For this issue, editor Pearson countered Ditko with his parody ("Mr. E"), drawn by Tim Brent, that is the most creative strip in the issue.  Betty & Gray Morrow close the expanded publication with a very graphic story ("The Journey") of their childbirth adventure.  Witzend has now entered a phase that is much different than that envisioned by Wood; i.e. to provide an uncensored outlet for artists to copyright their own work.  The main question for me is: Will Pearson be able to draw the talent that was loyal to Wally Wood?  [JAM 2/9/2015]

#8 - Summer 1971 - 36 pages+

Pearson completed his contract with Wood, barely, with this issue.  He used every editorial trick including the borrowing of out-of-copyright material from Dr. Seuss (1904-1991), Edgar Allan Poe (1809-1849) and Lewis Carroll (1832-1898).  The cover drawing by Ralph Reese is in the style of Robert Crumb and is plucked from the best article in the issue ("Barf: The Insurance Salesman") written by Pearson.  Pearson & Reese used many MAD-like humor techniques including: references to a story in a previous issue ("Qwamb!" in W6); old lady gets hand grenade as "fruit"; Barf grabs a word bubble; Barf jumps between panels; paper boat is floating in a panel; etc.  As promised, Wood completed the "abbreviated Wizard King" with a teaser: "... outline for an expanded version ..."  And, non-artist but ultra-fan Bhob Stewart filled a page of untitled vending-machine humor.  Pearson ended the volume with a brief description of the next two issues to come ("one-shots on a variety of subjects").  The artistic treat in the issue is the Frank Frazetta art loosely-related to the ten-page Poe poem.  [JAM 2/9/2015]

#9 - 1973 - 38 pages

This entire issue is devoted to the career of actor William Claude Dunkenfield (1880-1946) who was also known as W.C. Fields.  There is an excellent painting of Fields by Jeff Jones on the front cover.  Most of the interior consist of photographs from the archives and a game ("Adversity: The W.C. Fields Game").  Editor Pearson promises that W10 will be back to normal with drawings from the great artists.  [JAM 2/9/2015]

#10 -1976 - 48 pages+

Wood returned with an excellent, full-color, wraparound cover and a rather tame episode of "Sally Forth".  These were easily the best contributions to W10.  Alex Toth drew a ten-page story ("39 -- 74") that could have been featured in Ladies Home Journal.  Editor Pearson wrote two stories: "Lost in a Dream!" drawn by Dick Giordano; and "The Avenging Dodo" drawn by Mike Zeck.  The promise of a "profusely illustrated ... collector's item" was not fulfilled.  Where are The Fleagles?  Five years after W8, Pearson's "Backword" says it all: "This publication has no theme, purpose, or significance."  [JAM 2/10/2015]

#11 -1978 - 48 pages+

W11 slipped into hardcore underground comics territory with Pearson providing most of the content.  The new mission is "witzend is a philosophical publication , dealing with three subjects worthy of constant attention: astronomy, anatomy and cartooning ..."  Wood contributed eight pages of Wizard King drawings without text.  The Wizard King graphic story was supposed to be Wood's crowning achievement but it never quite reached his expectations.  Dan Adkins (1937-2013) provided one drawing of Pearson's "Kym".  [JAM 2/11/2015]

#12 - 1982 - 48 pages+

Wallace Allan Wood took his own life on November 2, 1981 in Los Angeles, California at the age of 54.  Editor Pearson used Wood's creation (witzend) as a final tribute.  Page 48 shows Bucky Ruckus surrounded by several Wood characters with a border filled with comic characters drawn in the manner that only Wood could draw.  Also included is the 12-page "Lunar Tunes" signed ("Wood '81) starring Bucky in one of his signature space adventures ending at "Wit's End".  Wally's friends Gray Morrow, Don Martin and Steve Ditko also provided drawings for the issue.  Wally Wood was a troubled man with many bad habits but he may have been the greatest comic artist of the 20th century.  [JAM 2/11/2015]

#13 - 1983 - 40 pages+

Editor Bill Pearson published this volume four years after the death of Wally Wood.  There are some good Wood drawings in it as well as one from Frank Frazetta (1928-2010) and several from Roy Krenkel (1918-1983).  However, it appears that Pearson was just using the witzend name to start a new publication titled Good Girls.  There is very little continuity or text in the book.  With this issue, Witzend (and Good Girls) came to an end.  [JAM 8/27/2015]