Monday, June 10, 2013

37 - 'PS' Covers Without Sigs

Reactions to our recent Blogpost 36 regarding new offices for the PS Magazine staff included this from Erwin K. Roberts: “Thank you for the update. It got me curious. Obviously Joe's [Joe Kubert’s] organization is carrying on, and very well, I'm sure. But, who, if anyone yet, is the new cover artist?”

Roberts is a life-long comics fan who joined the U.S. Army in September, 1969. A week or so later he saw Will Eisner's familiar signature on an issue of PS. With the exception of a few breaks, he followed PS until he retired from the Missouri Army National Guard in 1996. When his son prepared to deploy to Iraq in 2004, Roberts was relieved to find PS still going strong with Joe Kubert as the signature artist. Following Will Eisner’s death, Roberts founded a Yahoo group devoted to PS. These days Roberts writes thrillers in several genres. Several of Erwin K. Roberts’s works are available on Amazon. 

Questions regarding the absence of an artist’s signature on Front Covers of PS are not new, but they have been heard with increasing frequency since the death of Joe Kubert last year.

The image displayed above (a repeat from our Blogpost 35), the Front Cover of PS Magazine Issue 719 (October 2012), is the last PS cover that is attributable to Joe, even though it does not bear his iconic sig. He penciled the entire piece and inked the principal foreground character in what turned out to be his last session at the drawing board before he went into the hospital.

This discussion is accompanied by displays of the Front Covers of the first six PS Magazine issues of 2013, all unsigned.

Beginning late last year, I’ve had several conversations regarding this subject with Stuart Henderson, the PS Production Manager, and Pete Carlsson, Senior Art Director for Tell-A-Graphics, the Kubert business entity that has held the PS contract for creative art, design, and pre-press services since PS 579 in February of 2001.

Pete says that the presence of Joe’s signature on PS covers indicated, as it should, that Joe was an overarching presence who was involved to some degree in every production aspect involving a cover. “Following Joe’s death, a more pronounced division of labor has evolved that results in team-effort covers for which a single signature would be inappropriate,” Pete said.

“For that reason, and with the concurrence of the PS leadership, our decision for now is that the covers will not be signed,” Pete said.

Henderson points out that this is not unprecedented. “Backes Graphic Productions, which produced Issues 429 through 578, from August 1988 through January of 2001, did so with unsigned covers,” Stuart said.

At this point in time, the 150 issues produced by Jack and Diane Backes represent the second longest period of PS production. Will Eisner’s 227 issues still stand at the top of the stack.

In two months, with PS 729 (August), the Kubert shop will have equaled the Backes Graphic Productions record and in September (PS 730) will move into the second-to-Eisner spot. That will still be 76 issues short of Maestro Eisner’s tally.

The historic information provided here is derived from a time-line graphic that includes PS Editors, Artists, and U.S. Army Duty Stations, and is available in Appendix A of Will Eisner and PS Magazine. 



¶ Master Sergeant Bull Dozer Revisited

¶ PS Magazine's Immediate Military Commander

¶ A View of PS at the Four-Star Level

¶ Best of PS by Perspective Instructional           

¶ A Covey of Connies—World War II to Today