Friday, March 25, 2011

8 - Murphy Anderson's Best 'PS' Front Covers

Murphy Anderson's artistic-eye and fine hand were closely associated with PS Magazine for almost 14 years. His first contact with PS tasks was in Will Eisner's shop in the waning wind down to the end of the Eisnerian era with PS 227 (October 1971). Accompanied by Mike Ploog, Chuck Kramer, Dan Zolnerowich, Bob Sprinsky, and Ted Cabarga, he segued into the Eisner Alumni Group, legally known as Graphic Spectrum Systems, which held the PS contract and produced PS 228 (November 1971) to PS 251 (October 1973). He continued his commitment to PS by holding the art contract and producing PS 252 (November 1973) to PS 368 (July 1983)—with the exception of six issues, PS 309 (August 1978) to PS 314 (January 1979), which Zeke Zekely produced before relinquishing the contract for re-award to Murphy.

Murphy's artistic ranks included Zolnerowich, Frank Chiramonte, Augie Scotto, Creig Flessel, Craig Daniels, Howard Berman, and family backup by Murphy's son (Murphy III), wife Helen, and daughter Sophie.

PS staffers remember Murphy as a gifted and wildly imaginative artist leavened with enough businessman smarts to avoid the pitfalls that tripped several PS art contractors over the years. He also left a lasting impression as a straight-talking Appalachian mountaineer from western North Carolina who was ready to go nose-to-nose in backing his creative concepts. It occasionally drew flak for him (and PS staffers) from Army Brass.

We offer, as sort of a lagniappe offering, an example of that kind of problem with the Front Cover of PS 274 (September 1975) displayed at the bottom of this posting.


In the business of comic books, Murphy Anderson's professional attitude is surpassed only by his artistic ability. He is respected by any and all who have had the good fortune to know him, or to have worked with him. You always know when 'Murph' walks into the room because his deep bass voice tends to shake the walls. But he is a gentle man as well as a gentleman. His rendering with brush and pen has made him one of the most sought-after inkers in the business. His covers for PS were outstanding, rivaling those of his peer, Will Eisner.

I've had the good fortune of knowing and working with Murph over the years, and the experience has always been a happy and gratifying one. His honors are well-earned.


In making a selection of "the best post-Eisner art" in PS in 2009, the PS staff included four Front Covers by Murphy Anderson. Shown above and below in ascending ratings, left to right and top to bottom, they are:

Fourth—PS 323 (October 1979), soldiers facing the onslaught of the Winter Hawk.

Third-—PS 364 (March 1983), alien invaders talking to soldiers.

Second—PS 305 (April 1978), Roman soldier requesting spear shaft replacement part.

First—PS 326 (January 1980), Old Man 1970 turning over things to Baby 1980.

The art above is a Murphy Anderson riff on a Fisk Tire Company advertising campaign and iconic illustration. Burr Giffen did the image for the ad campaign starting in 1907. Norman Rockwell took over the Fisk art duties in 1917 and did at least two sequences. He frequently commented that he enjoyed the whimsy of the concept.


¶ Best PS Front Covers by the Eisner Alumni Group

¶ Will Eisner Self-Portraits in PS

¶ Best PS Front Covers by the Backes Group

¶ The Magic of Eisenshpritz in PS

¶ Early Covers Got Eisner, PS in Hot Water

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