PART 5. HAM RADIO INTRO
Interest in ham radio begins for Shepherd in grammar school and extends throughout his life. He comments on the air that, “I became, at the age of ten, totally, maniacally, and for life I might point out, completely skulled out by amateur radio.” Shepherd several times speaks on the air about his love of ham radio. He says that in high school, it led to his being chosen to announce a sports program—his first experience with broadcast radio. In these stories he tells about becoming obsessed, getting his ham license, how lightning strikes—and engaging in the ultimate speed-contest, in which he learns an important life-lesson.
His knowledge of ham radio undoubtedly leads to his placement in the Signal Corps during World War II. He would eventually broadcast from Cincinnati and Philadelphia, and then New York City. As an adult he would publicly promote amateur radio and speak at several amateur radio conventions. Even after leaving his career in broadcast radio, at home he would continue his nightly communications on amateur radio for the rest of his life.
* * *
Ham radio stories to come.
THE ARTISTS OF EC COMICS
Wallace Wood Self-portrait
The artists who wrote and illustrated the EC line of comics, including MAD Comic (later, Mad Magazine), were far beyond any other comic artists in their sophistication, wit, and graphic style. These included Wallace Wood, Harvey Kurtzman, John Severin, Will Elder, Jack Davis, Al Williamson, and others. The prestige awarded these artists in their field by their peers and media was echoed by their young fans, and is shown in the comics themselves by the signing of the artists’ names in the first panel of their illustrated stories. All comic art here is by Wood.
My favorite EC artist was Wallace (Wally) Wood, who, as did the others, drew covers as well as entire stories, and also wrote some of his own illustrated work. Enthusiasts enjoyed the varied styles of the artists, and EC did a series of one-page bios of major artists on the inside front covers. Naturally, I have the Wood bio. Here is the final page of a self-referential story, “My World”:
“My World” in Weird Science 11/12, 1953
Wood was regarded by many as the best artist for EC and best comic book artist ever. There are numerous tributes in books, magazines, websites, etc. Recently, while researching for my essay on Wood and others, I encountered a book of over 300 illustrated pages filled with anecdotes and tributes to Wood. (A new and more elaborate format of that book with color illustrations is being published in two volumes.)
EC war comics included stories about the Civil War, World War I and II, the Korean War, and other conflicts. Wood, in his work for these, also did well-researched stories about much older wars. Also, his wide-ranging mind led to not only science fiction itself, but a Mad comic parody of that form:
A Wood Sci-Fi Cover and Opening Page of his Mad Parody of the Form.
[Note the age-discolored paper of the “Weird Science” cover
from my collection, now over 60 years old.]
EC artists did a variety of graphic art projects before, during, and after work with EC. Among Wally Wood’s projects was his witzend, founded by him, a critically acclaimed comic showcasing some of the best artists of the era, and a series of his about a sexy young thing named “Sally Forth.” Of special interest to Jean Shepherd enthusiasts is that in his only appearance in Mad Magazine, April, 1957, Wood did the art, the first page shown here.
A co-worker of mine had met Wally Wood and invited him, along with me and others, to a cocktail party at her apartment. I brought along his EC back-of-the-cover bio and he inscribed it to me as we chatted.
RIP, Wallace Wood.