Thursday, March 31, 2011

9 - Best 'PS' Work by the 'Eisner Alumni Group'

About two years ago, when the New Millennium staff of PS Magazine undertook the challenging task of identifying the best post-Eisner art in the publication, it was decided that, generally, they would select and rank four Front Covers and two Continuities. Once into the task, however, they made a change regarding relatively short-term art contractors, such as the Eisner Alumni Group (legally known as Graphic Spectrum Systems) and chose only one Front Cover and one Continuity.

Immediately following Eisner's departure, this group from Will's shop successfully bid the contract for PS creative art and pre-press production. It included Dan Zolnerowich, Mike Ploog, Chuck Kramer, Bob Sprinsky, and Ted Cabarga. Nearly all of them were competent, recognized artists whose direction and style had just been released from Will's parameters.

The Front Cover shown above, from PS 231 (February 1972), showing a Valley Forge scene with George Washington, was the fourth produced by the group. The fading of Eisner's influence is evident. It is signed by Chuck Kramer, whose signature disappeared a year later with PS 244 (March 1973). Considering the production time-line for the four-color elements, it probably was in the last two months of 1972, midway through the contract, that Kramer left the consortium and moved to Israel. Most of his associates sighed with relief. At that point, Kramer had started pushing anatomical excess to the edge of the cliff that spelled policy defiance, and, it turned out later, left a trail of tricky visual double entendre, and "after approval" changes that were designed to explode long after his departure.

The selected Continuity, from PS 234 (May 1972), Fantastic Journey, is a sci-fi, human-miniaturization tale addressing damage done to aircraft by foreign objects (F.O.D.). It is displayed below, with the mini-poster centerspread shown last.

For more details regarding this group, see our February 15, 2011 blogpost: 3 - PS Art Contractors—60 Years of Dedication.


There is no question but that every one of Will Eisner's "Alumni Group" were heavily influenced (or, perhaps, required) to follow Will's drawing style. I did not know Chuck Kramer, nor am I aware of his work prior to his relationship with Will. Murphy Anderson's inherent style is quite different from Will's, yet he was able to follow the Boss' work remarkably well. Ploog was a natural, in terms of picking up and following Will's lead.

Other than some of the PS characters' characteristics, I tend to deviate from Will's style, although I've been an admirer since the Spirit days. And things change. If we (my team and I) were to attempt to include some female poses (similar to the double-page poster on the Joe's Dope Sheet spread shown here), we'd be arrested, but only after being drawn and quartered.



¶ Will Eisner Self-Portraits in PS

¶ Best PS Front Covers by the Backes Group

¶ The Magic of Eisenshpritz in PS

¶ Early Covers Put Eisner, PS in Hot Water

¶ The Best of Zeke Zekely in PS

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