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A contract with US Gov.
August 31, 2009 11:29 AM   Subscribe

The usual summary of comic book artist Will Eisner’s career follows the formula that he drew the Spirit all through the 1940s except for the war years and a bunch of ‘graphic novels’ from 1978 till the end of his life in 2005. There’s a long missing period between 1951 and 1978 during which he packaged and adapted cartoon art to commercial purposes, which has not been readily available for our scrutiny or pleasure. It is sometimes summarily dismissed as being of little interest. - Artist Eddie Campbell reappraises Will Eisner's missing years.
posted by Artw (13 comments total) 9 users marked this as a favorite

 
A comic combined with technical drawing/information. What a great idea! Is anyone doing anything like that nowadays? Coincidentally, the only example I can think of is one I recently wanted to do a post on but couldn't find any good links for: Wordless Workshop.

Also, the lower left panel thought balloon seems needlessly spelled out. Surely readers were aware of the "lightbulb over the head means idea" icon by then...?
posted by DU at 11:41 AM on August 31, 2009


Surely readers were aware of the "lightbulb over the head means idea" icon by then...?

I bet that was debated at length.
posted by Artw at 11:43 AM on August 31, 2009


Damn, I gotta get me some 'o that Preventive Maintenance! Woo woo!!

Thanks for this... Campbell & Eisner were two of the first authors I read when I first discovered all of the comix/graphic novels/sequential art that was available at my library for free!
posted by not_on_display at 11:47 AM on August 31, 2009


Great post. In the 1970's Eisner did a little newspaper panel comic called "Odd Facts." Back in the mid-1980's Eclipse comics was selling the originals for $10 a pop. Probably the only Eisner original I will ever own.
posted by marxchivist at 12:08 PM on August 31, 2009


How amusing that this was prompted by Gary Groth being an asshole about Eisner's commercial work. Perhaps when Groth passes, his obituarist might cite some of the more louche things that Eros Comix has published as sort of a tribute.
posted by Halloween Jack at 12:30 PM on August 31, 2009 [1 favorite]


BTW, if anyone who cares about comics hasn't read Eisners New York Trilogy yet and is reading this: Go out and get it right now. You won't be disappointed. A Life Force in particular is fantastic.
posted by Artw at 1:10 PM on August 31, 2009


What's odd, too, is that I would swear all up and down that I have a 1980s-era Comics Journal where Groth interviews Eisner at length and discusses these years in Eisner's career with sufficient knowledge of the comics and the circumstances to do so sympathetically.

I never expect anybody's opinions to ossify -- particularly over a span of twenty or more years, and I also believe the saying about petty inconsistencies. But it's an odd thing for Groth -- who has has spent a decade shucking for cash with schlock and porn to keep his publishing house alive when his finer art wasn't selling -- to savage Eisner for the morality of doing military how-to manuals to keep his studio alive instead of the artful comics that have never regained popularity outside of a small circle of aficionados.

I wish Eisner had done more Spirit comics too. For that matter I wish the existing comics were easier to come by. But Eisner was a businessman as well as an artist -- most good, self-sustaining artists are -- and must have chosen this as a means to continue doing comics at all at better than the threadbare wages the artists of the 1960s and 70s were making.
posted by ardgedee at 1:16 PM on August 31, 2009


I approve of this post.
posted by eyeballkid at 3:23 PM on August 31, 2009 [2 favorites]


Campbell's blog is so fucking awesome. It's been a while since I looked at it; thanks for reminding me of it!
posted by egypturnash at 4:46 PM on August 31, 2009


> But it's an odd thing for Groth -- who has has spent a decade shucking for cash with schlock and porn to keep his publishing house alive when his finer art wasn't selling -- to savage Eisner for the morality of doing military how-to manuals to keep his studio alive instead of the artful comics that have never regained popularity outside of a small circle of aficionados.

People always attack in others the vices they hate in themselves.

Great post!
posted by languagehat at 5:05 PM on August 31, 2009


it's an odd thing for Groth -- who has has spent a decade shucking for cash with schlock and porn to keep his publishing house alive when his finer art wasn't selling -- to savage Eisner for the morality of doing military how-to manuals to keep his studio alive instead of the artful comics that have never regained popularity outside of a small circle of aficionados

I'm not a huge Eisner fan - I certainly get more out of the PS work than The Spirit, and I find a lot of his later stuff fairly mawkish - but considering that a good chunk of TCJ's Harvey Kurtzman obit/retrospective was devoted to condemning the guy as a one-trick sell-out quitter because of Little Annie Fanny, I'm not surprised by this.
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 9:08 PM on August 31, 2009


I love Eddie Campbell, and I also thank you for reminding me the old bastard has a blog to read.
posted by rokusan at 5:45 AM on September 1, 2009


I'm sure only a geek would find this interesting... but...

The spread for the Tire Life Insurance booklet has an illo (left page, lower right) that just screams Fisk tire ad to me... especially when you see the guy with the candle across the gutter from the GI carrying the tire. I think the artist was having a private joke.

*sigh* I spent fifteen minutes Googling for that.
posted by Guy_Inamonkeysuit at 7:18 AM on September 1, 2009 [1 favorite]


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