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Underappreciated Artist Spotlight – Doug Wildey

Here’s another piece by Scott – BC

We are back with another edition of the Underappreciated Artist Spotlight. This time, let’s focus on a man who might not be well known to those fans who do not venture outside of the capes and tights genre.

Doug Wildey is probably best known for creating Johnny Quest (a DVD that I love more than any other), but he also provided quality artwork to a number of different companies.

Like many artists of his generation, Wildey’s early work seems inspired by Caniff (not a bad thing!), but over time his pencils really matured and he developed a very distinctive style. There is a real confident lushness to his artwork, especially when he is providing the inks as well.

I was a late comer to the Wildey Appreciation Society, but I try to get my hands on anything he’s ever worked on. If you need a good jumping off point for Wildey art, look no further than Rio (or the Rio sequels).

It may be the best western I’ve ever read and the painted artwork is a thing of beauty.

I’m lucky enough to own a piece of Doug Wildey original art – it’s a page from the late 50s Harvey horror title, Alarming Tales. I just love it – but if someone ever wanted to trade for a Rio page (heh, heh!).

Aside from the Rio work, other inexpensive options for checking out Doug Wildey’s artwork include Comico’s Johnny Quest Classics from the late 80s, and the Outlaw Kid reprint book from Marvel published in the 70s. That will give you a sense of Wildey’s mastery of the craft.

I often wish he’d done more work in mainstream comics, and I would have loved to see him tackle a WW2-era Captain America or Unknown Soldier. He also would have been a perfect fit for Sandman Mystery Theatre.

Here are some more examples of Wildey’s work from a variety of genres:

1. Daring Confessions #8 (Youthful, 1953)

This is very early stuff – you can see a lot of Caniff in there, but he is showing that he is interesting is experimenting with layout.

2. Outlaw Kid #18 (Atlas, 1957)

This is just a typical page from Outlaw Kid – showing a mixture of dialogue and action. By this stage, Wildey’s had come into his own style and his work on this title was spectacular (became a long-running Marvel reprint titles in the 70s). I like his use of silhouettes (something his friend and colleague Alex Toth excelled at). In his western work, Wildey was very good at showing tough guy facial expressions like a sneer or scowl.

3. Nightmare #5 (Skywald, 1971)

Who knows how Wildey ended up contributing to the Skywald line, but they are lucky he did. This page shows his innovative layouts – I really like the free flowing panel borders. The black and white really enables his pencils to jump off the page.

4. Tarzan #180 (Gold Key, 1968)

It’s not easy following in the steps of the likes of Foster, Hogarth and Manning but I truly believe that Wildey did a superb job on Tarzan during his short tenure on the strip. He did not copy anyone else’s style, and really put his own stamp on the strip. This page is from Lost in Pellucidar storyline and it showcases Wildey’s ability to mix jungle action with prehistoric fantasy. You know you are dealing with a strong artist when in the midst of all of this action; the strongest panel is the close-up on the woman’s face.

I could include more, but this should provide everyone with a taste of what Doug Wildey had to offer.

14 Comments

Wildey was indeed a master. I didn’t know he did comics until a story in HARLAN ELLISON’S DREAM CORRIDOR published after his death, but afterward I sought out the back issues of RIO and JONNY QUEST that he did — amazing, amazing stuff.

He did some work at Ruby-Spears in the 1980s working on some of the worst animated shows of all time…with the likes of Jack Kirby and Alfredo Alcala. I know Jim Woodring worked with them — I would love it if there was a volume talking about what it was like to work there! What a collection of talent! Okay, so it was for TURBO TEEN, but just having them all in the same room…

^^^ I liked Turbo Teen as a kid; USA Cartoon Express.

Anyways, I’ve only been familiar with WIldey’s work on Jonny Quest, one of my favorite animated series ever, and had no idea he was that active in comics . It’s cool to learn something.

Huh, the Nightmare art seems very different than what I’m used to from Wildey – kind of a Gene Colan look.

I never realized his career stretched that far back. My familiarity with Wildey comes from reading a lot of Comico titles back in the 80’s and early 90’s and seeing his name attached to the RIO and JONNY QUEST books. Sad to say I never got around to reading them, but the artwork in the ads, especially for RIO, always looked beautiful.

Starring Tom Selleck as RIO… Good call, a great artist, very under-rated.

Love the Harlan Ellison adaptation- my first exposure to Wildey’s work, as well.

This is shaping up to be a great series — Doug Wildey is another one of my favorites! I’m proud to own 3 pages by him – page 20 from a Sgt. Rock Special, a page from his story in Blackhawk #268, and an oversize Western page. They are all absolutely beautiful.

Some suggestions for other underappreciated artists: Don Newton, Mike Parobeck, Steve Rude, Dick Dillin, Nick Cardy & Tom Yeates.

An “Underappreciated Writers” series would be cool, too. My first nominee: Mark Evanier.

PS to Brian/Scott — It’s spelled JONNY Quest. No “H”.

PS to Brian/Scott — It’s spelled JONNY Quest. No “H”.

In Canada, there’s an H.

Yeah, that’s the ticket!

Doug Wildey – Oh HELL yes!

Nice call, Scott.

Great choice, Brian!
Plus, did you know Wildey was the model for Peevy in Dave Stevens’ Rocketeer comics?

“Plus, did you know Wildey was the model for Peevy in Dave Stevens’ Rocketeer comics?”

Now that’s cool!

I must chime in to say that I also saw tons of reruns of Turbo Teen as a kid via the Cartoon Express, and loved it to death for its nonstop action and pure weirdness. It was a much better watch than a lot of the other cartoons on the block.

Finding out years later about all the talent that worked on it just makes me happier to have gotten to see it when I was at just the right age to not find anything wrong with it.

Cuando era niño en Argentina, creía que “Hanna Barbera” era una señora muy cool, que contaba unas historias que lo tenían todo, acción, misterio, incluso la dosis justa de cinísmo .Con el correr de los años supe Hanna no era una mujer, eran dos tipos, no sabía nada de Doug Wildey , pero aun así intuía que esos no eran unos dibujitos como cualquier otros. Creo que ya no las hacen igual, eran lo maximo. Quede realmente marcado por ese estilo de narrar, Doug es una de mis musas, a la hora de sentarme a dibujar.

Manuel Martín

April 6, 2010 at 6:58 pm

Doug Wildey was a terrific artist to whom I owe having increased my interest in the comic book art, was to me a strong inspiration that still endures. Thanks for letting me remember.

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