Markley’s Fevered Brain: Why I Never Knew

Wayne Markley

Wayne Markley


by Wayne Markley

We have a triple feature this time out, looking at two books about forgotten aspects of comic book history and a new collection of one of Marvel’s best characters in one of his best series. One of the great things about comic book history, and most history to be honest, is all the little side paths it has taken over time. We are fortunate to live in times where there are publishers willing to put out books collecting these obscure artifacts for all of us to see. Fantagraphics has recently released a collection of a rarely seen Wally Wood creation that features art by Wally and two up and coming artists who would later make a name for themselves. Rebellion, under their 2000AD Imprint, also released a book that collects a newspaper strip that was commissioned in the 1960s but was deemed to racy for print and was later revived to be part of 200AD (along with Judge Dredd) but it once again was deemed not to be fit for the masses. A fascinating read because of the material and the history of the strip and its creators. Finally there is the second volume of Garth Ennis’ Max Punisher collection, which rates right up there with Dirty Harry as one of the best characters in the history of vigilantes.

Wallace Wood Presents: Shattuck

Wallace Wood Presents: Shattuck


Wally Wood was one of the great artists in comic book history, and he was also a staunch protector of creator rights. While he worked for almost every major publisher in his career – Marvel, DC, EC, Tower – he also self-published a number of titles, including the amazing magazine Witzend, which Fantagraphics has collected into a beautiful 2 volume hardcover slipcase set reprinting all of the issues. Wood also created adult themed newspaper strips for a small (compared to Star and Stripes) newspaper that was distributed through BX and PX and military bases throughout Europe and Asia. He created three strips for Overseas Weekly: Cannon (which was also collected in another beautiful collection by Fantagraphics about a year ago, well worth finding), Sally Forth, which has been out of print for years but I am hoping it is brought back into print soon, and the lesser known strip of the three, Shattuck. Once again Fantagraphics has collected and brought to print this lost classic in Wallace Wood Presents: Shattuck. When Wood was creating these projects for Overseas Weekly he did what he wanted, and what he thought the G.I.s would want to see, tough guys and beautiful women always losing their clothes, thus Cannon and Sally Forth, but when he created Shattuck it was for his idol, Syd Shores. Wood knew Shores loved westerns so he created a western strip for him, complete with lots of topless women and tough men in big brawling fights. Unfortunately Shores found it to be more profitable to do covers for men’s adventure magazines than working for Wood. As a side note, Syd Shores is one of the great underrated artists of comics. He did a lot of Golden Age material, most notably Captain America, but he also did the original Red Wolf in Marvel Spotlight and much more. It is well worth your time to look up Syd Shores on the internets and look for images to see his men’s adventure magazine covers. They are mostly women in peril with Nazi’s covers, but even given the subject matter, they are still beautiful to look at.

Getting back to Shattuck, it is a bawdy western that was created and overseen by Wally Wood. He actually let his assistants do the art on the book with him helping out here and there. The early stories were done by a very young Howard Chaykin. The art is very nice, but to me it looked far more like Wood than Chaykin. I am guessing that Wood inked the Chaykin strips and he was so powerful it looks more like Wood than the penciler, as Wood was prone to do (see his inks over Joe Staton in Justice Society Vol. 1 reprinting stories from the early 70s). The second two thirds of the strip are by Dave Crockrum and it looks like Wood was far more hands off as the strips goes on as the art looks more and more like the Dave Cockrum you would later see on Legion of Super-Heroes and X-Men. Shattuck is also notable as it is the first published work for both Chaykin and Cockrum. It should also be noted that Shattuck was done in newspaper strip format so there are four rows per strip and this collection reprints two rows per page and one complete strip over two pages. It works just fine and reads well this way. Also, the art is reproduced from the original art so it is also an Artist Edition of sorts as you see come corrections here and there and the strips that are reproduced are an off tan color, but that works on the white paper they are printed on. Overall I am thrilled with this book as I had never seen it before. As with most of the work he did outside of the mainstream it is for mature readers due to extensive nudity and violence. It is a great lost peace of comic book history finally brought to light.

Goldtiger: The Poseidon Complex

Goldtiger: The Poseidon Complex


A second book that brought the dead back to life is from 2000AD called Goldtiger: The Poseidon Complex. Now you may be saying to yourself, “what the hell is that?” I said the same thing. Goldtiger is written by Antonio Barreti and drawn by Louis Schaeffer (an Italian and a Brit collaborating). It was commissioned in the 1960s by Baskerville Newsgroup Group to be competition to Modesty Blaise. It is clearly a time piece of mid-60s pop culture as it is filled with psychedelic images and pop culture from the time. It is also as much a history book as a comic reprint book. The strip never came to be and has long been discussed and obsessed over by European fans. As far as I can tell from reading the editorial material, this is everything Goldtiger related ever produced. There is also a lot of background information and history of the creators and the time period the strip was done. There are the strips that were done as well as lots of sketches and ads that were done for this specific strip or by Schaeffer for other projects. What makes this strip so notable is even though it was commissioned and the first story was made (The Poseidon Complex), which is reprinted in its entirety here, it was never picked up by the syndicate. Many years later, 200AD tried to pick up a revised version of the strip called Goldtiger 2000, which was also rejected, but all the material that was done for the 2000AD relaunch is also collected here. Goldtiger is an interesting book as it collects all the material from a twice failed strip that never actually was published. It is also fascinating reading the struggles that Barreti went through trying to get this character into print and the price he paid for his struggles. The art is very nice and it overall makes for an amazing slice of comic history that is little known.

Punisher Max: The Complete Collection Vol. 2

Punisher Max: The Complete Collection Vol. 2


Moving on to something more current and that is widely known, Punisher Max: The Complete Collection Vol. 2. This volume reprints issues 13-30 of Punisher Max, all written by Garth Ennis. I am not going to go into depth here as I wrote a long review of volume one. But needless to say this book is an excellent read filled with violence and bloodshed. There is not a hint of superheroes in these stories although Nick Fury does make an appearance. The stories go from Russia to the streets of New York. The art is by Doug Braithwaite and Leandro Fernandez. The art is dark but easy to read and perfect for the stories. These are some of Garth Ennis’ best work and some of the best Punisher stories around. Reading these stories really captures the feel for who the Punisher is and what his motivations are. Great material. I also must also give a shout out to Mr. Timbotron for recommending these Garth Ennis Punisher collections to me. They are as good as he promised. For mature readers due to violence.

That is it for this time. A couple of nice books about the history of comics that is ether little known or not known at all. Both have great art and are fascinating for different reasons. Plus there is a new collection of some of the best Punisher material in the characters history. Everything I have written here is my opinion and does not reflect the thought of Westfield Comics or their employees. I would welcome any comments but I doubt many people have read these books but if you have and I would love to hear what you think of them. I can be found at Facebook at Wayne Markley or I can be reached at MFBWAY@AOL.COM. And in closing I would like to say goodbye and wish all the best to Mary Carter who recently moved on from Westfield after more than twenty years here. She was always fun to work with and I wish her all the best in her new venture.

Thank you.

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