Tuesday, January 08, 2013

New Books: The Two Wallaces

Today I received from Amazon my copy of this deluxe coffee table book documenting the amazing career of comics artist Wallace "Wally" Wood. Just a page-through summons so much emotion. I've always been a Ditko guy, but Wood really grabbed me this past year as I rediscovered his astonishingly lifelike, detailed work for early MAD and some of his later adult work like CANNON and THE PIPSQUEAK PAPERS (which I find touchingly funny, tenderly erotic and, I suspect, painfully autobiographical).The text is bilingual (English/Spanish) and the art reproductions are ideal. One big surprise that leaped out at me: on the basis of some daily strips reproduced from "Sky Raiders," Jack Kirby inked by Wood can be indistinguishable from Jim Steranko.

Also new, but available only as a super-pricey import, is this hefty hardbound photo album documenting the 32 Edgar Wallace krimi-films produced by Rialto Film of West Germany during the 1960s and '70s. Co-written by leading Wallace-krimi scholar Joachim Kramp (who tragically died in 2011, before this last dream project was fully realized) and Gerd Naumann, this thing must weigh as much as the Bava book, and in addition to a standard edition being made available to Amazon and similar outlets, it has been produced in four limited editions of 500 each sold exclusively by the publisher, Schwarzkopf & Schwarzkopf -- personally signed by the buyer's choice of actors Karin Dor, Karin Baal or Uschi Glas, or composer Peter Thomas. I was lucky enough to snag #413 of the Karin Dor set. The fact that this book is essentially a collection of all the photos taken on the sets of these films (including never-before-seen color shots from THE FELLOWSHIP OF THE FROG and THE TERRIBLE PEOPLE) makes the purchase doubly attractive to English-speaking fans; the English text is introductory and minimal, though one-page interviews with Dor, Baal and actor Joachim Fuchsberger are also included. My favorite images in the book show actor Klaus Kinski's happy demeanor on various sets (contrary to his mentions of the films in his autobiography), various gag shots (including one of the Monk with the Whip being instructed in how to snap his lethal weapon by someone in elaborate cowboy dress), and visionary director Alfred Vohrer at work with his assistant Eva Ebner. I have a few quibbles with the end product: in my opinion, whoever was responsible for the layout didn't always pick the best shots to reproduce at full-page size; also, the book's weight and proportions make it a bit unwieldy. A taller book would have been more balanced and easier to peruse. Also, I'm uncertain of how well the book's binding is going to hold up over time, and I was a little annoyed that my copy arrived with its back cover slightly crinkled. Nevertheless, as an artifact, it's damn near irresistible.

According to the S&S website, the book is not being sold outside Europe, but the publisher (who does speak English) agreed to send mine for an additional postage charge of about $65.