Thursday, February 24, 2011

4 - SGT Rock and Easy Company Meet MSGT Half-Mast

The full-color meeting of SGT Rock and his Easy Company with MSGT Half-Mast in the pages of the 700th issue of PS Magazine (March 2011) may very well be the high-water mark—at least for certified comics fans—in this Sixtieth Anniversary Year of the U.S. Army's highly successful PS. Something like an imagined encounter of Alvin C. York with Audie Murphy.

We are able to present it here through the kind permission of DC Comics, granted promptly and with great enthusiasm for the PS celebration. Please note that DC Comics holds the copyright for this material and its presentation here is NOT FOR REPRODUCTION.

Half-Mast McCanick first flowed from Will Eisner's pen onto the pages of Army Motors in 1942, during World War II. We plan to give you, in a subsequent posting, a surprising display of his graphic evolution over the intervening 69 years.

SGT Rock, at least in the incarnation reflected here, was first seen in DC Comics' Our Army at War, No. 83, in June 1959, with Joe Kubert as artist and Robert Kanigher as editor. Developmental stabs at the character occurred as "The Rock" (without rank) in GI Combat No. 68 (January 1959) and in Our Army at War No. 81 (April 1959). (Kubert is now in his eleventh year as the contractor providing creative art, publication design, and pre-press production services for PS.)

Kubert's well-regarded artwork and storytelling on the title was as much a result of Kanigher's writing as his own cartooning talents. "[Bob's] writing was graphic and compelling and emotional and it instilled an interest in me to illustrate his stories and the character of Sgt Rock," Kubert told an interviewer.

In his scripts and dialogue, Kanigher described the characters to Kubert; in his art, Kubert brought those guys to life. Together, the two men told stories that captured the imaginations of thousands of readers. As Mark Chiarello wrote in his introduction to SGT Rock Archives, Vol. 3, "We all wanted to be Rock, but in reality we were the other guys of Easy. Like those characters, we were there to reinforce the idea that we all have strengths that form the whole. No one goes it alone."

That sense of unit cohesion and camaraderie inherent in the SGT Rock stories was a significant factor triggering the PS staff's interest in seeing those characters in the magazine's pages.

The initiative for this effort came from Stuart Henderson, and he wrote the story. Stuart has been a comics enthusiast since the age of ten. He joined the PS staff in August of 1993, and has been Production Manager since March of 2002.

We greatly appreciate the cooperation of DC Comics in making this possible as a part of our ongoing, year-long salute to PS.


When Stuart Henderson, current Production Manager of PS Magazine, came up with an idea to celebrate the 700th issue of PS as part of the Sixtieth Anniversary, I was really taken aback. His thought was to do a Continuity—an eight-page comic book story in the middle of the magazine—involving SGT Rock and Easy Company, the comic book characters with whom I have been associated for over fifty years. The thought of having Sgt Rock appear in a publication created by Will Eisner, with the characters he developed—well, to say it was a thrill would be the understatement of the year! Of course, there were legalities involved, obtaining permission from both Time/Warner (the parent company of DC Comics) and the Army. But the arrangement went off without a hitch, and I had a great time doing the story.



¶ Connie, with Pogo, Owl, Dick Tracy, Maggie, Jiggs, and Many More

¶ The One Piece of Art that Delivers the Essence of PS

¶ Artists Mentioned in Connection with PS

¶ Murphy Anderson's Best PS Front Covers

¶ Best PS Front Covers by the "Eisner Alumni" Group

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