Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Ed Wood Wednesdays: Eddie or Not? by Greg Dziawer

There's more than one Ed Wood in the world, you know.

NOTE: Greg Dziawer has been doing some serious, time-consuming research into the career of Edward D. Wood, Jr. This week, he tackles an issue that plagues every Ed Wood fan eventually. Both "Edward" and "Wood" are very common names, so our Ed Wood is by no means the only Ed Wood. I regularly receive Google alerts about the name "Ed Wood," and most of these items are indeed about the director of Plan 9 from Outer Space, but occasionally one of those other Ed Woods will find his way into my Gmail inbox. It's not always clear which Wood is which. Relax. Greg's on the case, and he's here to impart some knowledge about some of those other Ed Woods. J.B.

I. “Sourdough” Ed Wood

Bread Wood? This Ed Wood has a couple of buns in the oven.

There are plenty of real people named Ed Wood. One, along with wife Jean, devoted his life to "studying the science of real sourdough, baking and batching the perfect loaf, and traveling the world to uncover the hidden history of sourdough for National Geographic Society."

Eddie or Not: Interesting folks. But this Ed Wood isn't our favorite pulp auteur.

II. Edward Wood: Sci-Fi Lit-Crit

A better candidate, surely, is one Edward Wood, who authored numerous articles for the newsletter The Science-Fiction Times from 1958 through 1960. For issue #309 from Feb 1959, he penned the cover story 1958 in Science-Fiction. Its opening lines: "It was a bad year. No compromise with the truth can disguise this elementary fact." An article called "1959 in Science Fiction" followed for issue #330 from Jan 1960. The magazine reviews are consistently scathing.

Two Science-Fiction Times cover stories by Edward Wood.

One degree of separation:
"Forry" knew both Ed Woods.
Essentially a fanzine, Science-Fiction Times was a (mostly) monthly, mimeo-printed 8 ½ x 11 newsletter typically running 4-8 pages. It began life in 1941 as Fantasy Times, switching its emphasis and its name in 1957, amidst an explosion of homebrew sci-fi 'zines influenced into being by – among many other things that defined an era – Einstein, the Bomb, and Sputnik.

Science-Fiction Times largely contained news, book, and magazine reviews. Forrest J. "Forry" Ackerman was a regular contributor. It moved to offset printing before its lengthy run finally ended in 1970. The milieu seems right, the same that nurtured Bride of the Monster and Plan 9 from Outer Space. Ed knew Forry, and he did – albeit later in a much different milieu – write magazine articles.

Eddie or Not: Nope. Turns out this is a sci-fi fan who was active in the fanzine press during the 50's and '60s. Issues of Science-Fiction Times can be readily located online. There are currently two issues over at Ebay containing pieces by Edward, and I must commend the seller for divulging in one of these listings that "this is not the movie director but rather in the 1950s and 1960s there was an active SF fan who was also named Edward Wood."

III. Spurious Attributions

Not all Ebay sellers have been as forthcoming, and some made lazy pronouncements (whether deliberate or not, an attribution to Ed would almost certainly substantially raise the selling price) that I've delved into before. You can read more about the manner of listing by hitting either of the links in the preceding couple of sentences.

To cut right to the chase, this seller "believed" Ed may have written two more items up for auction. I say that in the past tense because the listing for Office Sex Circus has been fairly and thankfully revised.

Office Sex Circus and Desert Lust, two novels dubiously attributed to Ed Wood.

Desert Lust is an undated Club Novel paperback from the '60s, credited to Bob Roth. A few quick searches don't reveal much about an adult paperback writer of that era with this name, nor have I ever seen any claim tying it to Ed. Given the source of the claim, utterly incorrect twice before, we can fairly shoot this one down.

Office Sex Circus is an April Morgan Bee-Line title from 1968. Though the title is certainly up Ed's alley, he never wrote for Bee-Line, a prolific New York publisher. (Hal Kantor, who wrote for Calga when Ed was at Pendulum, wrote 1967's The Vegas Trap for Bee-Line under their common Pinnacle Books imprint.) April Morgan, likely a pseudonym, wrote other titles for Bee-Line, but a quick scan revealed little else. Bee-Line often copyrighted their titles without listing an author, or listing a pseudonym without listing the actual author's name. That only makes the haze murkier as to the true authorship of Office Sex Circus and the identity of April Morgan.

Two more Bee-Line titles by April Morgan.

Eddie or Not: There's no good reason to think so.

We must be honest also. We must not be so anxious in our attempts to make new converts that we forget to remind them of the cost. Consider The Quandary of Discipleship, a sermon by a retired Southern Baptist minister named (you guessed it) Ed Wood.

The devil, dear readers, is in the details.