Wednesday, April 15, 2015

This Is Not the Wood Brother You're Looking For

Big Town was DC's tie-in to the radio/TV show about crusading newspaper editor Steve Wilson. When Julius Schwartz took over editing from Jack Schiff in the process of putting together #3, he inherited the records of scripts and artwork bought. I can't say how, but somewhere along the lines it seems a mistake has been made in crediting the writer of a few of those scripts.

Dave Wood would write Big Town stories for Julie, and wrote other features for him like Strong Bow. But from the evidence of the stories themselves, he didn't write all the stories he's supposed to have in issues 1-3. Some were actually by his brother Dick, who was at DC writing Vigilante and such.

Big Town 1 Deadline Nightmare

"Deadline Nightmare," the very first story, sports such interjections as "Great Hannah!" and "Suffering cats!" "Steve Wilson's Disgrace" in issue 3 sports "Great Hannah!" again and "Great suffering—!" These are the sort of Dick Wood expressions rampant in Man from UNCLE and Star Trek later at Gold Key. If Dave used them on a story added to the records by Schwartz first-hand, or in his credited stories much later for Murray Boltinoff, I haven't run across that story yet.

Dick and Dave did share some tells. "Phantom from the Past" in Big Town 2 uses "Great thunder" and "Great ghosts," so lacking more obvious Dick Woodisms, at this point I'd say crediting Dave is correct.

Big Town stories written by Dick Wood

Jan/51 Deadline Nighmare
The Forgotten Men of Skid Row
Mar/     Steve Wilson's Disgrace


  1. Been a long time since i looked at the Schwartz records, but I seem to recall that Schwartz only wrote down the last names, of course I have no idea if he handled the Schiff record differently.

  2. Most comments from contemporary editors I've read show they seemed to consider the two brothers interchangeable. Although obviously it's possible to tell who wrote what.

  3. I wonder how the IRS felt about treating the brothers interchangeably?

  4. According to Mr. Kirby, the Wood brothers often wrote together and exchanged sections of the same script. He said Dave was good at getting work and Dick wasn't as aggressive about it so Dave would get assignments and then they'd lock themselves inside for a few days with sandwiches and liquor and bang out all the scripts that either had been assigned. They probably did this just to confuse folks like us.

  5. I can see that happening at points in their careers, such as when a Dial H for Hero story with Dick's characteristics pops up during a run of ones otherwise pointing toward Dave. I haven't found any signs of stories predominantly (or at all) by Dave at Western or King among all those sounding like Dick's.