Friday, June 17, 2011

Combustable Pants

Friday Comic Book Day.

Ever since Ken Quattro unearthed (or at least made public) Will Eisner's testimony in the Fox vs DC case about his Superman rip-off Wonderman, which contradicted Eisner's years of stating he had 'told the truth rather than give in to Fox and lie under oath', some of his other statements about himself and his career at least seem a bit supicious. I have a great respect for Will Eisner as a comic book artist and a storyteller, but he was primarily that, a storyteller. He often told the best possible story, evenif he had to bend the truth a bit. One of those stories I have alwys found hard to believe, was that of his succes as a bussiness man. After creating the spirit (and being clever enough to retain the copyrights as well as keep al the original art), he create PS magazine for the US Army, a monthly publication warning soldiers about the importance of maintanance en prevention using comic strips and comic art. Producing that magazine was his main job for over twenty years. Ten years into that stint, he sold his company American Visuals to another company and became director of that company, which merged with another company. Anyway, he ended up being the head of a real, albeit small newspaper syndicate. Where, oddly, he was involved more with the columnists, such as his old army buddy Art Buchwalt, than the comic side of things. This became the basis of the story of his bussiness succes. Later, he added to that story by saying that he did art to please his father and commerce to please his mother and it was only after his mother died, he felt free to return to drawing. Souds like a good story. Only, along the way more and more interviews with people who worked with Eisner in the PS years showed a different side. That PS never was a commercial succes and that it took Eisner everything he had, to keep on producing it on the cheap. That he did all sorts of side projects which went nowhere. And looking into the history of American Visuals, I have found it very hard to find more than a few samples of their work. Even the many books they were supposed to have done for the GE Employee Rack I only found one (which you'll find using the tags).

So you can imagine how happy I ws to find full scans of a American Visuals project from the late forties or early fifties. As many of the stuff Eisner did, it show his conservative bias and artisticly, it is nothing much to write home about. The art is by some third rate Eisner assistant, with maybe a cursory hand of the master here and there. But it is a rarity and as such, great to have. I hope this blog will one day be a repository of all of Eisner's Amrican Visual work. It won't take a lot of room, that's for sure. The posters shown on the last page were a stale of PS magazine and Eisner's WWII work as well. If one of those ever turns up it will make a nice profit, I guarantee that.


Smurfswacker said...

Ah, the baby days of the NRA.

This kind of rubbish was pushed on us constantly during the 50s and early 60s. Boy's Life teems with it.

Underlying everything was the conviction that [white male American] humans were superior to every other species, especially--if not primarily--because they had guns in their mitts. Blast away at those birds, boys, but be sure to respect the farmer's property! (Preservation of private property is second only to possession of guns in the American pantheon.)

Surprisingly they didn't suggest making little cardboard cutout Commies to shoot at. And if you made them from clay they'd explode in a most liberal manner.

Daniel [] said...

Yes, by all means let's use comments here for cheap and grossly inaccurate caricatures of people with whom we ideologically disagree.

Smurfswacker said...

Yes, young Daniel, it's a technique I learned from some of the most highly-regarded "conservative" commentators on American television.

Daniel [] said...

Odd that you would have learned it from them, as it's been observable from the political left, which still has the bulk of the media, and had an near monopoly prior to the late '80s.

But regardless of who does it first or most, it simply isn't appropriate. It wouldn't even be appropriate if the entirety of the left did it or the entirety of the right did it — which is simply not the case either for the left or for the right. Even in that fantasy case, it wouldn't be appropriate because it would be an insult to the entirety of the audience, regardless of their ideological positions.

We don't deserve your clotting-up things with such rot. The fact that others, opposed to you, have insulted us and wasted our time with their own rot doesn't entitle you to pile more onto us.

Ger Apeldoorn said...

Boys, boys... no politics here. An one of you has his facts completely wrong, you know who I mean.

Daniel [] said...