I was not having much luck following Google Maps around Melbourne, Australia, looking for “comic book stores”. Either the store wasn’t where it was supposed to be, or it had closed and moved to a different location. Finally a man on the street told me “If you go to the next block, right after the restaurant there’s a store called Minotaur… and they have a whole lot of comics”.
Not only did they have a whole lot of comics, they had back issues of Spectrum, various Flesk books, EC and Warren collections, Artist’s Editions too big to carry, and lots of work by artists the average comic store doesn’t carry, such as Wally Wood, Frank Frazetta, Dave Stevens, Jim Steranko, Al Williamson, Berni Wrightson, Mark Schultz, etc. You know, the EC crowd and their direct descendants.
I spent half an hour just looking at one wall, finding a new treasure every few minutes. Unfortunately they were all shrink wrapped. And then I saw it: A slipcovered, two volume set containing every issue of Wally Wood’s Witzend. Boom! I was right back in junior high school, in Peter Kuper’s bedroom. I never owned a copy of Witzend, but my friend Peter did, and it was legendary! The art, the name, everything about it was just too cool. The boxed set was $165 Australian, and my suitcase was already full, but I bought it. Then I spent every free moment of a three-week trip devouring its contents.
Here’s what I learned:
In 1965 or 1966 Dan Adkins asked Wally Wood to contribute to a sci-fi art magazine he was publishing. Wally was burnt out on the commercial comics scene and loved the idea of a creator-owned publication. He decided to publish a book of his own art, and that of his friends and disciples – and that’s how, in 1966, Witzend got its start. And fast forwarding 50 years, it was after reading all 13 issues of Witzend that I decided to publish this web site. It has no theme – it’s a grab bag of many different things I’ve been working on for the past few years.
And it’s a testament to how things we see and hear in our youth get under our skin and we can never get them out.
Ivan Thompson, Auckland, New Zealand