Tuesday 29 September 2009

I wrote a long post a couple of weeks back about Will Eisner and the US army PS magazine. I now have a copy of Paul Fitzgerald's self-published new book on that very subject. Fitz became PS mag's managing editor from 1953 and gives us the inside story of the enterprise. So far we've really only had Eisner's occasional notes on the subject and the story of the founding of the magazine in its entirety has been difficult to reconstruct. The shaky start and the running battles with the top brass make for interesting reading.

Fitz worked on the military side of things. as opposed to Eisner's art studio where the typescripts were illustrated and converted to typesetting and layout. So there isn't a lot of the kind of information I was hoping for, the inside info that Eisner used to give about the running of his 'shop' back in the old days, who was in it and who did what. In place of that the details are mainly related to the stories of the various editors, and the relationship of all of that to Will and his shop, which apart from Will himself tends to be left indistinct.
What we do get is a huge amount of colour reproductions. The PS mag was small in size, seven by five, so the landscape format of Fitz's book allows wraparound covers (an occasional treat at PS) and spreads to be shown complete at their original printed size, like this piece of pure Eisner from Christmas 1964:

The important thing the connoisseur hopes to get from a book like this is a sense of how exactly Eisner's style developed from his 1940s Spirit to the one he was using when he set himself to drawing again for a civilian audience in the 1970s. Even though Fitz doesn't offer any kind of running commentary from an art position, there's enough here to piece together an evolutionary picture.
Photowise there's a page of colour images of Will on a field trip in 1967, none of which I've seen before. Anecdotally there is a running assortment of anecdotes about Eisner visiting army bases in odd places. We also get a rundown on the history of the mag after Eisner left it, which includes a spell in which Murphy Anderson handled the art shop. There is a nice selection of Anderson's colour pages and covers, though printed small. He draws a very delectable Connie Rodd. I always wondered where Anderson went after his 1960s spell at DC comics.
The book leaves me with more questions about the whole deal than I had before, but it is a must for the collector of Eisner's work. It's 224 pages of glossy paper, crammed with text and colour pictures on all of them

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

" I always wondered where Anderson went after his 1960s spell at DC comics."

He was inking Curt Swan's "Superman" well into the 70s, wasn't he?

B Smith

30 September 2009 at 05:02:00 GMT-5  
Blogger Eddie Campbell said...

Maybe it was me that was missing

30 September 2009 at 19:22:00 GMT-5  
Blogger Rodrigo Baeza said...

Thanks for reviewing this, I remember being curious about this book when it was announced a couple of years ago (http://bit.ly/IbkWV), but I don't remember reading any description of its contents until now.

1 October 2009 at 11:06:00 GMT-5  
Blogger bob said...

I know our host has left us to the mercy of the footwear spammers, but anyone interested in this topic might want to be aware of the upcoming book from Abrams,

Eddie Campbell is listed as a contributor, I assume some sort of introduction or appreciation.

1 January 2011 at 01:38:00 GMT-5  
Blogger Eddie Campbell said...

It's a 2,500 word overview.
happy noo year.

1 January 2011 at 16:44:00 GMT-5  
Blogger bob said...

Thanks, Eddie. Looking forward to it. Anything else coming out in 2011?

1 January 2011 at 21:29:00 GMT-5  
Blogger Eddie Campbell said...

My book about money is almost done, so it could have a 2001 release. Title: The Lovely Horrible Stuff. 96 pages of autobiographical stories plus a field trip to a very interesting location.

1 January 2011 at 21:37:00 GMT-5  

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