In an open letter, the estate of the late comic book creator Wally Wood has fired a shot across the bows of Marvel and Netflix asking for credit for his contributions to the success of the Daredevil show. And they have quoted a lot of comic book legends to support their point.
You know what? Let's just run the entire thing.
Netfix and Marvel Studios made history with their recent online hit TV show Daredevil, which was immediately renewed for a second season. But with all the fanfare has come a major controversy among comics fans and top professionals alike. Amazingly, though over a dozen Daredevil-related comics professionals were acknowledged in the series credits, the late, legendary creator who, most in-the-know people say, did as much as Stan Lee and Bill Everett, who first launched Daredevil in 1964, is outrageously slighted. No one is more important to Daredevil than Wallace "Wally" Wood! After leaving his historic 12-year hit run on MAD Magazine, in 1964, Wood took over the then foundering, near-cancellation fledgling Daredevil comic after issue #4. Wood created the RED Daredevil character design, the interlocking double-D logo (which inspired the nickname "DD"), developed the visualization of the Radar Sense, created the grappling-hook cane/Billy-club cable, technological enhancements to DD's senses, themes used through the Frank Miller run, and beyond. Lee and Everett are acknowledged at the opening of the Netflix-Marvel series and many more comic-book talents are thanked in the Netflix Daredevil show but not "Kid Daredevil Himself, Wally Wood" as Marvel sometimes called him! — To people familiar with Wood's contributions, the slight is Unacceptable!
When Wood took over Daredevil, the half-developed character was dressed in a yellow acrobat's costume. Wood found it ridiculous to dress "the Man Without Fear" in yellow, the color of cowardice and took it upon himself, without Marvel's request or approval, to change DD's outfit to the all-red suit he has donned lo, the past 50 years. Wood's design inspired all red Daredevil designs since, including those in the 2003 Daredevil movie staring Ben Affleck and the new Netflix series alike. Wood plotted his DD stories, often uncredited — which inspired him to leave Marvel after one year — and that character development is inherent in near all Daredevil including Sin City creator, Frank Miller's famous run. That is why Roy Thomas, Denny O'Neil and other all-time top comics industry pros are speaking out, in favor of Wood being listed at the beginning of each episode with Stan Lee and Bill Everett (not at the end for individual episode contributions).
In his one year developing Daredevil, Wood brought sales from a near-cancellation bi-monthly to a hit monthly. The success continued through Romita's handful of post-Wood issues but soon slipped back to a bi-monthly where it soldiered on for years afterward, only to return again to Wood's hit monthly level of sales, over a decade later, under Frank Miller. Miller's famous latter run on Daredevil revived many themes that were originally created by "Kid Daredevil himself," Wallace Wood. Elsewhere, Miller has paid tribute to Wood in SIN CITY (including in the credits to the SIN CITY movie) and his comic, Tales to Offend, including "Lance Blastoff" which was a total homage to Wood.
"Of course, Wally Wood deserves credit on Netflix and all Daredevil TV and film. Considering Wood was instrumental in initiating and designing Daredevil's iconic red costume, he is essential to any list of Daredevil creators."
— Gerry Conway, April 17, 2015
Marvel Editor-in-Chief Emeritus, Daredevil writer, Punisher co-creator
"I can't imagine any moral circumstance in which Woody's contribution to Daredevil remains unacknowledged. The red costume, the first set of nemeses that became a big part Daredevil's rogue's gallery, the visual key to the character's radar sense, & so many other elements that are intrinsic to the character and franchise derived from his stint on the book. It in no way diminishes Bill Everett and his creation of the character to acknowledge Wallace Wood's participation in the development of the character we recognize today."
— Howard Chaykin, April 29, 2015
Award-Winning Writer-Artist, American Flagg!, Black Kiss, The Shadow
"Wally Wood's contributions to Daredevil, particularly the look of the character, were crucial to his early success. Even if he didn't technically 'co-create' Daredevil, I believe he deserves screen mention with Stan Lee & Bill Everett. Nobody has ever really been able to improve on the costume Wood designed 50 years ago!"
— Roy Thomas, April 17, 2015
Marvel Comics Editor-In-Chief Emeritus, Historian, & Author
"I go back to Wally Wood's Daredevil for inspiration constantly. Almost everything I love most about DD originated with WW."
— Michael Allred, MAD MAN creator and Daredevil artist
"Omitting Wally Wood's contribution to the character that IS Daredevil is like leaving out either Siegel or Shuster on the opening credits to a Superman film."
— Bob Schreck, FaceBook, April 25, 2015
Award-winning writer/editor, Batman DK2, Dark Horse, Oni, DC Comics
"I don't get why Wally Wood isn't acknowledged on the new DAREDEVIL show — the one in which the hero wears an iconic costume designed by one Wallace Wood. Wally Wood was one of the most important creative talents in comics and certainly of the mid-sixties Marvel era. Daredevil was high on the "So What?" chart before Wood came along and in just a few issues, set a wandering premise on a straight-arrow course that has endured to this day. When he arrived, it suddenly got exciting, especially when the hero got a new, now-iconic wardrobe. A lot of great artists have drawn that hero but when I think of Daredevil, I think of Wally Wood. In next place are several artists who obviously were also thinking of Wally Wood. Wood was an extraordinary creative talent as both an artist and a writer. He proved that all throughout his career but he really proved it when he came along and made DD viable. Wood gave Daredevil direction and distinction and not only did the costume become exciting, so did the guy in it. Daredevil might not be around today if not for Wally Wood…and if it was, it might not be anywhere near as good."
— Mark Evanier, Award-winning writer, Groo the Wanderer, Garfield TV show, and the biography, Kirby: King of Comics.
"Who deserves more credit? The creator of an idea, or person who came after, and made that idea 1,000 times better? In the case of Wally Wood's giant contribution to Daredevil, Marvel/Netflix seems to think the second guy deserves nothing. Hopefully this will be corrected soon. Wally Wood was one of the greatest creators to ever draw a comic."
— Dave Johnson, April 30, 2015
Eisner Award-Winning Cover Artist, Detective Comics, 100 Bullets
"I was trained by Larry Hama who was Wallace Wood's assistant. And I was the biggest MAD magazine freak as a kid. Wally Wood is a huge influence on me."
— Bob Camp, Director, co-creator of Ren and Stimpy
"While not always quickly recognized, Wallace (Wally) Wood's influence is pervasive throughout pop culture. I was a fan of Wally's work at such a young age; it took a decade before I even knew it! From Mars Attacks, to Daredevil, to Power Girl, to his unmistakable black-and-white wizardry and storytelling. We all owe Wood our thanks."
— Dan Brereton, Award winning Nocturnals creator and Mars Attacks painter
"[Wallace] Wood told [me] that as the reason he left Marvel; that he felt he was contributing too much to the storylines to not be paid some of the writing fee and that he had been promised a profit-sharing deal if his art boosted the sales on DAREDEVIL …which it did. And then he didn't get the extra money."
— Mark Evanier, Award-winning writer, Groo the Wanderer, Garfield TV show, and the biography, Kirby: King of Comics.
facebook Nov 21, 2012
"If it hadn't have been for Wally Wood, Daredevil would have been cancelled by issue six."
— Mark Waid, Award-winning Daredevil writer
"Daredevil was a work in progress, but Wally Wood certainly deserves credit and kudos for the development work he did on the character. The Wood-designed red costume drove home the devil part of the hero's name. His masterful use of DD's radar sense and billy club made those more essential parts of the character than ever before. Wood's work on Daredevil was pivotal to the Man Without Fear."
— Tony Isabella, FaceBook, April 25, 2015
Creator of Black Lightning, co-creator of Misty Knight & Tigra
UPDATE: Tony Isabella writes to say: Let it be known that, while I meant and I mean the comments I made about Wally Wood's contribution to Daredevil, I was at no time informed that my comments would be part of a lawsuit. I don't believe I would have declined to make those comments, but I consider it a breach of common courtesy and good faith that I wasn't informed of this beforehand.
"Out of Marvel's entire 50-year Daredevil run, I have only saved one, single issue for my personnel collection. It is Wally Wood's classic issue 7 featuring Daredevil in Wood's new red costume, battling the Sub Mariner. The innovations—all by WOOD—make it the greatest issue of Daredevil ever! Wally Wood couldn't help but be a creative genius! He deserves every credit."
— Frank Brunner, April 23, 2015
Marvel Staff + Dr. Strange, Howard The Duck, Man-Thing, Elrik
"Wood transfigured Daredevil from a mundane hero into a major contender. Wood put the devil into Daredevil by replacing the original saffron-yellow costume with one of satanic scarlet.
He changed the character from a sideshow acrobat
into a creature of the night."
— Jim Steranko, Innovative Hall of Fame artist-writer of Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D., Captain America, and collaborator with Frances Ford Coppola, George Lucas, Steven Spielberg, etc.
"I was happy to see Bill Everett recognized [at the opening of Netflix' Daredevil series], but Woody [Wallace 'Wally' Wood] surely deserves the same."
— Dennis O'Neil Facebook, April 13, 2015
Legendary author-editor including Green Lantern-Green Arrow and, Daredevil with Frank Miller
Wood's Daredevil Contributions:
1) DESIGN MODEL SHEETS: Contemporaneous to Wood's RED Daredevil redesign, Wood created character turnaround model sheets for: Daredevil, Matt Murdock, Karen Page, Foggy Nelson, and design schematic of Daredevil's Cane Billy-Club with grappling hook cable.
NOTE: NO other such character design model sheets are known to have been produced for ANY Marvel characters by ANY other creator in the 1960s.
2) WRITING: While officially credited as fully writing only Daredevil issue #10, Wood plotted many — if not all — of his Daredevil issues under the "Marvel Method" same as his collogues, Fantastic Four co-creator, Jack Kirby and Spider-Man co-creator, Steve Ditko. VIA HIS PLOTS, WOOD DISTILLED THE ESSENCE OF DAREDEVIL
"Wood's… Daredevil is defined not by who he defeats so much as by his stubborn refusal to bow down to the most overwhelmingly fearsome of opponents." said Colin Smith. Wood wrote/plotted/co-wrote Daredevil. Via his story plots, Wood developed Daredevil into the character we all know and love. Most of the very best of the character's adventures ever since have reflected Wood's themes, including through Frank Miller's run to this very day and the Netflix series. The McKenzie-Miller tale from Daredevil #163, effectively re-ran Wood's classic tale with the Hulk standing in for the Sub-Mariner.
3) NEW CHARACTERS: Wood created various support characters during his Daredevil tenure including Mr. Fear, and Stilt-Man, whose hydraulic legs made a cameo "Easter egg" appearance in the first season of Netflix's Daredevil. Wood added telescoping legs to his earlier creation idea "The Destroyer" to create Stilt-Man. According to the letters page in DD #8, Stan Lee's only suggestion was to make the stilts even longer after which Jack Kirby joked about making them even longer.
4) RADAR SENSE: While Daredevil had higher senses from the first issue, Wood developed a very important way to visually communicate DD's "radar sense" with a series of radiating, expanding circular lines which quickly became a key, trademark representation of the character.
5) INTERLOCKING DOUBLE-D LOGO: Wood changed the single-D on Daredevil's belly to an interlocking double-D design on Daredevil's chest. Wood's design inspired the nickname "DD" and became an internationally recognized trademark which is used everywhere including Marvel's Netflix series.
6) "KID DAREDEVIL HIMSELF, WALLY WOOD"
Honored that they had acquired MAD's star talent (with Wood, MAD had been selling 10 times what the best Marvel comic sold), Marvel lauded Wallace Wood with various titles including "Famous Illustrator, Wallace Wood," "Wondrous Wally Wood," and for his landmark contributions to DAREDEVIL, he was sometimes referred to as "Kid Daredevil Himself, Wally Wood" including on the 1965 45rpm record "THE VOICES OF MARVEL COMICS" and later, even in the headline to the 1971 Rolling Stone magazine cover article on Marvel.
7) TECHNOLOGY & THE BILLY-CLUB: Also, it was Wood who added all the technology to DD. Stan didn't like it and deleted it after Wood left, but later talents including Miller, Marvel Studios and Netflix returned to the Wood's concept of technological enhancements.
8) SALES: In his one year developing Daredevil, Wood brought sales from a near-cancellation bi-monthly to a hit monthly. The success continued through Romita's handful of post-Wood issues but soon slipped back to a bi-monthly where it soldiered on for years afterward, only to return again to Wood's hit monthly level of sales, over a decade later, under Frank Miller.
9) CONTINUED INFLUENCE: One indication of Wood's ongoing influence on Daredevil, long after Wood left over non-payment for his writing, is that, Marvel's prime representation of the character continued to be Wood's Daredevil cover corner icon which ran through Romita's entire DD run and well into Colan's. In fact, Marvel brought back the Wood icon over a DECADE later (though re-inked by a current artist) which ran from 1978 – 1980 including Wood's historic, last return to Marvel, which was the cover to Daredevil #164 with Frank Miller.