Thursday, January 26, 2012
New Featured Gallery: Wally Wood
When I was researching the Space Ranger class for X-plorers, there were three pieces of art that inspired me. Wallace "Wally" Allan Wood's cover for the February issue of Incredible Science Fiction (above) was the first, and most iconic. His view of the sci-fi "spaceman" was dashing all right, but Wood would not be content with the caped swashbuckler that was made popular with Flash Gordon. He brought us the buckle-strapped, bubble-helmeted astronaut adventurers we've come to know by heart. This was "hard" sci-fi in the 1950s, grounded in a more realistic aesthetic than the preceding operatic golden age of space fantasy.
His spacecraft was shiny, but held together with rivets. The insides were twisted greeblings of be-hosed control panels, exposed wiring, walls of dials, and mechanical tissue so highly detailed it was a near blueprint for the coming space age. He may have rendered his visions in comic books, but he might was well have been slaving over a NASA drafting table. Wood's work help define the very template for how we view the astronaut-as-hero archetype in popular art.
His work spanned much further than sci-fi, venturing into fantasy with titles like Valor and The Wizard King, superheroes with Thunder Agents, as well as a slew of children's comics and adult humor books.
He is among my most favorite artists from the pulp era of comics. Head on over to the Featured Gallery page (see the top navigation bar if you're reading this on the site) and see some cherished sci-fi illustrations by Wood now!
Note: When the Featured Gallery rotates to the next artist, I'll archive the art in this post and delete this notation.