Publisher: Fantagraphics Books
If you've read comic books for as long as I have then Wally Wood must be on your list of top comic book artists. Having worked in comics before and during the Comics Code, Wood needed a release from the constraints of the CCA and ham-fisted editors, and that release became Witzend.
In Fantagraphics Books' Wizend 2-volume slipcased boxed set, we all get to see what Wood and his talented friends like Steve Ditko, Al Williamson, Frank Frazetta, Archie Goodwin, and many others could create when not impeded by censorship.
Witzend was one of the earliest creator-owned indie publications, a cross between fanzines like Spa Fon and underground comix. In this collection you get the chance to read all the unfettered stories created by legends of the industry. Creators such as Wood's EC and Mad Compatriots Reed Crandall, Al Williamson, Frank Frazetta, Angelo Torres, Bill Elder, and Harvey Kurtzman go to do their own thing alongside relative newcomers like Art Spiegelman, Vaughn Bode, Jeff Jones, Bernie Wrightson, Howard Chayin, and Jim Steranko.
Wally Wood created some of his most memorable work in Witzend with the creation of his Pipsquak Papers as well as the start of his Wizard King fantasy epic. The two works I most remember from my days of waiting in the mail for each issue was Archie Goodwin's written and illustrated story The Sinner and Steve Ditko's Mr. A, the Ayn Rand-influenced crime fighter and basis for the Question and Rorschach.
For this hefty collection of stories from Wally Wood's Witzend publication you will need to make some space on your shelves, but this who's who of comic legends doing their own thing deserves the space over any of the current work-for-hire collections now available.
~ Steve Leaf