News about the premier academic journal devoted to all aspects of cartooning and comics -- the International Journal of Comic Art (ISSN 1531-6793) published and edited by John Lent.

Sunday, February 2, 2020

Exhibitions of the 47th Angoulème International Comics Festival: Les mondes de Wallace Wood

Upstairs at the musée d’Angoulème in a set of rooms with classic French wall trimmings is the Angoulème Festival’s major retrospective exhibition on Wally Wood, whose title in English translates to The Worlds of Wallace Wood.

This is an intense overview of Wood's comics career that places the spotlight on his graphic virtuosity across a variety of genres, registers and formats. A staggering collection of original pages from his time at EC Comics, MAD, Marvel, Tower, DC, as well as his journeyman work in the undergrounds and sex comics, have been brought together and displayed on wall boards that function as enlargements of his comics panels, enticing the spectator to look closer at the design and details.  Each text box presents the essential metadata for the page and also provides an intelligent running chronology and commentary on his artistic development and vision over the different phases of his career.

 The exhibition is littered with close readings of Wood's work in this context, often presented with the display of a complete story through its original pages in order to savour the visual, technical and narrative details that are being simultaneously highlighted.

The complete set of original pages from"My World", from Weird Science #22, November 1953

The complete set of original pages from "New Orleans!", from Two-fisted Tales #25, October 1953

Several display tables were placed in each of the exhibition sections dividing his career to showcase the comic books and other ephemeral artifacts where his artwork would appear, offering an appreciative nod to the original publication context of this content. These tables also offered visitors the opportunity to look at some of Wood's pencil work for his character design.


As we all know, and what the exhibition doesn't shy away from, is that the end of Wood's career and life were not easy ones, leading to an end that is tragic mainly because of the genius that was on display in his earlier work. That said, this exhibition is anything but a downer. It's an intelligent celebration of the life and work of one of the most talented of the immediate postwar American comic artists with a heavy accent on his visual prowess. Not to be missed if you happen to be in Angoulème from now until 15 March 2020.

Nick Nguyen

All photos taken by Nick Nguyen

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