EDITED: The above has been corrected to reflect that it is the Wallace Wood Estate in the form of WWP, LLC which is suing, and not the individual, J. David SPurlock.
Here’s one of those matters where there are really no winners. The Wallce Wood Estate, which is administered by J. David Spurlock, the publisher of Vanguard Publishing, is suing Wood’s ex-wife Tatjana Wood, for the possession some of 150-200 pages of Wood art. According to the complaint, the pages are worth between $2000-25,000 each.
Wood is of course the much beloved artist of many EC, MAD and Marvel comics, including Daredevil, and then Witzend Cannon, Sally Forth. He took his own life in 1981, embittered by failing health and career setbacks. Despite that his imaginative and finely rendered art continues to be among the most iconic (overused word I know but it really fits) in the comic book world. He’s also the creator of the”22 Panels that Always Work” piece which is widely copies and referred to.
Wood left a will leaving his money to Tatjana, but his possessions—including artwork and publishing interests—to his friend John H. Robinson. In 2012 Robinson assigned all his interest in Wood’s estate to Wallace Wood Properties, LLC, a company run by by Spurlock, whose interest in Wood includes co-authoring the book Wally’s World: The Brilliant Life and Tragic Death of Wally Wood, the World’s 2nd Best Comic Book Artist.
In court documents, Spurlock says he and his lawyers made many attempts in person and by letter to get Tatjana Wood to give them the artwork, which court documents say was erroneously returned to Tatjana’s home by Marvel, who thought her address was the proper one for returns. (Wally Wood died in LA.)
The court documents, shown below with addresses redacted, lays out a paper trail suggesting that remaining Wood artwork should go Robinson/WWP.
Wally Wood was married three times, and he and Tatjana divorced in the 60s. She continued to work in comics as a colorist for years, however, and back when I worked for Vertigo she would still come into the office. It was always a pleasure to talk to her and learn a bit of comics history.
I’m no expert in Wally Wood, but I’m sure some of you comics historians out there will have some ideas about all of this. And then a little more Wally Wood art to remind you why he’s so revered.
Heidi MacDonald is the founder and editor in chief of The Beat. In the past, she worked for Disney, DC Comics, Fox and Publishers Weekly. She can be heard regularly on the More To Come Podcast. She likes coffee, cats and noble struggle.