Saturday, April 9, 2011

10 - Will Eisner Self-Portraits (?) in 'PS Magazine'

Considering the deadly serious, hard-nosed, poker-faced, businessman persona that Will Eisner paraded on display for much of the time, his occasional injections of whimsy and caprice into his art and his conversations could be rather startling. There's no telling just what combination of circumstances combined in 1967 to result in his PS Magazine continuity for the August issue. It combined a "stone age mechanic" and a television anchor/interviewer to impart an essential technical message regarding the calibrating of tools. Will was cast in the newsman-role, and six apparent self-portraits were sprinkled across the six-page sequence.

The montage above displays three of them. All six pages are displayed below.

Joe Kubert throws a flag on the field, however, pointing out that the sequence lacks an Eisner sig.

This product also reflects the early stages of Eisner's transition into the freewheeling, open-space visual anarchy that he eventually utilized to bring time, space, climate, tone, and syncopation to the printed page. In two instances here, he let's a character in one panel reach into or grasp another panel, in a startling three-dimensional result.

I became convinced, early on in my friendship with Will Eisner, that he had three favorite words for use when space was tight or a "pop" was needed or he wanted to keep the story-tempo moving rapidly—or all of the above: "so," "oy," and "feh!" All are monosyllabic and multi-meaning, depending on the context, punctuation used, and the episodic circumstances. In the sequence displayed in this blogpost, at the lower right corner of the first page, in a relatively small panel, he manages to include two characters (one barely insinuated) and a triple-riposte rapid-fire exchange in which "feh" plays a key role.

BTW, don't get too focused on the page numbering in this sequence. Two pages (32-33) are missing. They were used for a centerspread, mini-poster dealing with a subject unrelated to the focus of this continuity.


It's rather interesting to see an Eisner story in which Will caricatured himself. Even more interesting that it's one of the continuities that he didn't sign.

Did he actually do the story, or did he allow one of the crew to have some fun? Having known Will, I'd be hesitant to make a determination either way. The man had a wonderful sense of humor and was comfortable enough in his own skin to do it himself, or allow (and perhaps encourage) one of the guys to do it.



¶ Best PS Front Covers by the Backes Group

¶ The Magic of Eisenshpritz in PS

¶ Early Covers Put Eisner and PS in Hot Water

¶ The Best of Zeke Zekely in PS

¶ A Covey of Connie Covers

1 comment:

  1. I am sure this sequence was influenced by the popularity of the Carl Reiner/Mel Brooks 2000 year old man routine, which was brought out on record in 1961. How close to that date was this story?