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Never Was Comic Strips – This Is the Week to Remember

 

By the early 1960s Wally Wood was a known comic artist. His EC science fiction and MAD work was hailed. Early on he was good enough to draw Will Eisner’s The Spirit and spell Frank Frazetta on the Ace McCoy comic strip. His fantasy illustrations for pulps and his adventure sequences for the Valor comic book only confirmed his qualifications.

Russ Jones, fresh out of military service, had designs on being a syndicated cartoonist. He knew a better artist than himself would increase his chances at syndication. As Russ Jones tells it:

Wallace Wood’s 5 story walk-up apartment cum studio on West 74th Street and Columbus Avenue in New York was a beehive of activity in those final months of 1963. Woody was trying to ease his way out of ‘Mad’ magazine, and I thought that I’d come up with the method.

Months before, I’d sold the McNaught Syndicate on what Woody and I believed was a ‘natural’ for a Sunday page. An historical strip, titled: “This Is the Week To Remember…” I had drawn up one on ‘The Battle of Bull Run,’ had it photo engraved by Koppel Color in New Haven, Connecticut (who did the majority of all the syndicate Sunday color work), and Charlie McAdams of McNaught loved it.

They requested that six Sunday pages be completed, so they could give their sales people a variety of subjects to go out there and pitch to newspapers throughout the country. Boy! Were we excited! But, it was not too be. Woody had been suffering with what he termed ‘The never ending headache.’ He seemed up one minute, down the next. The work he produced for the strip was nothing short of fantastic, but the problem seemed to be the time factor. McAdams thought that he’d have his pages in two months.

How long it took, I really can’t recall, but it was a lot, lot, longer. This wasn’t good, since at that very time, the McNaught Syndicate was having problems with a strip titled, ‘Dan Flagg,’ by Don Sherwood. McAdams wasn’t in the state of mind to take on another property that he might have to worry about.

And so “This is the Week to Remember” never became a syndicated newspaper comic strip. Woody’s deadline problems would haunt his career. In an effort to solve that problem he took on a number of young assistants, many would go on to successful careers. Woody never would get an ongoing series. He did contribute a seasonal strip to NEA’s annual Christmas offering. He even had a tryout for Prince Valiant, though the sedate layout of Hal Foster for that strip didn’t highlight Wood’s ability for action.

This is the week to remember Russ Jones and Wally Wood’s comic strip that never was.

The unsuccessful attempt is usually told as a prelude to the mid-sixties debut of Jim Warren’s horror magazines. Russ Jones tells the story here, and Peter Richardson adapts it here in his history of Warren comics.

 

 


hat tip Heritage Auctions

 

 

 

Community Comments

#1 Jonathan Lemon
November/19/2018
@ 9:10 pm

No question Wally Wood is the greatest of all time.

#2 Kip Williams
November/20/2018
@ 1:21 pm

Jonathan, I have to agree. There may have been artists who did X better, or did Y better, but he always seemed like a complete artist. Superior penciler, polished inker, and the writing I’ve seen from him always appeals. He may be one of the first artists whose names I knew, because of his signature on stories in the MAD paperbacks that I devoured. (I also knew Ogden Whitney, and if anyone has to ask what I knew him from, I’ll threaten them with this here lollipop.)

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