Wednesday, January 1, 2014

39 - Eisner's 'PS' Changeup for New Year Covers

Happy New Year!

With one surprising exception, the PS front covers that Will Eisner occasionally drew to mark the arrival of a New Year embraced a somewhat formulaic parade of lengthy resolution lists, old men with long beards and longer robes carrying scythes, and cherubic toddlers—with or without diapers. The arriving and departing characters usually were adorned with sashes bearing numerals.

Those in the montage shown above, left to right, appeared on PS 40 (January 1956), PS 85 (December 1959), and PS 51 (December 1956).

Eisner pitched a major changeup, however, with the “see-through” New Year’s cover(s) that he did for PS 74 (December 1958). In Chapter Four, “Frame for the Art,” in Will Eisner and PS Magazine, I describe a meeting at Raritan Arsenal in New Jersey in early autumn of 1958 at which Will first brought the concept to the table. Initially, it was laughed at and casually dismissed as being too troublesome—which only served to rile him into insisting on tackling the challenge.

Here's the resulting front of that edition…

…and here's the back cover of the same edition.

There is one major bobble in the execution of the concept. In the front cover, Connie is shown wearing her sleeves down, with the cuffs buttoned. Apparently, in the time it took for the artist to walk around to the other end of the room to execute the back cover, Connie became tired of holding the pose and rolled up her sleeves before resuming it.

There was speculation at the time, among those who were familiar with the degree of critical scrutiny that was being accorded PS art at the time, that it was just another appearance of a diversionary artistic device employed occasionally by Eisner, called “The Hairy Arm.” That’s fully explored in Chapter Seven of Will Eisner and PS Magazine, titled “The Hairy Arm.”



¶ Master Sergeant Bull Dozer Revisited

¶ Best of PS by Perspective Instructional Communications

¶ A Covey of Connies—World War II to Today

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