Thursday, November 12, 2015


Talk your kids about potions.

On the cover of his first appearance, Wally the Wizard is pictured summoning a pink devil from an unidentified bottle, stumbling back in shock and knocking over the contents of a wizard's workshop in apparent terror, as nearby concoctions bubble and fizz. If that scene had appeared in any one of about 85% of the other comics also appearing on the racks in 1985, Wally would be well on his way to becoming a demonically powered super-villain, but instead he's more of a feckless dupe. Let's learn about Wally the Wizard or, as he's known after his transformation, Wally the White!

Of the original quartet of Star's in-house creations, Wally is the only one who appeared on the scene devoid of the craftsmanship of Harvey veteran Warren Kremer, springing instead from the pen of Little Archie's Bob Bolling. Moreso than any of the other three books, Wally featured a packed cast of characters amidst copious amounts of action...

Is this a euphemism?
There was, for instance, his boss, the wizard Marlin (agitated brother to the more famous Merlin, of course) and the kingdom ruled by King Kodger, defended by Lord Flauntaroy, and harassed by the evil usurper Vastar, his wizard Erasmo and allergy-prone crone of a sister Sybilious.

Meanwhile, Wally also had kid pals - he had a crush on Princess Penelope, attended to by the kind and patient Alaina, and hung around with a couple of other local kids; Conrad the squire to Lord Flauntaroy and their rotund pal Jay, that worst of all comic book characters - a bard.

Jay is - judging by his clothes - apparently a novitiate in some regional order, but besides his girth and monastic dedication (I guess), he's got a harp with him and he breaks out in musical doggerel at the drop of a hat. There's no excuse for this kind of character. It's Towbee the space minstrel all over again.

Rounding out the cast is Gorg, the book's wisecracking deus ex machina in the form of a pink demon who shows up at the last minute to save the day. I used to see the same thing back when I drank.

The end result was that Wally the Wizard was as densely-packed a cast of characters as Lord of the Rings, only with significantly lower stakes.

Wally's world was packed with mythological type monsters, evil wizards and knights, a handful of invented monsters and a series of quests which the young apprentice took every issue on his path to becoming a great wizard in his own right.

What the book lacked, however, was a consistent creative team. Once everything had been set in place, the writers and artists of Wally switched every few issues, making the books action-packed but a little meaningless. Near the end, Wally's actually fighting an all-consuming grape, which seems to be a pretty good indicator of a book losing its direction.

B-dumm SKSH

1 comment:

Jason Grote said...

That King is super Dan Clowes.

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