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Artist Spotlight Will Eisner

Will Eisner – The Spirit

If you want to see some of Will Eisner’s best work, I’d recommend the Spirit magazine that Warren Publishing put out in the 1970s. Reprinted mostly in black and white, they have a beautiful film noir feel that can’t be beat.

Here’s some examples…

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That last Jailbreak page just blows me away.

Quick digression – If you look closely at the jailbreak scene I did in the following Flash Gordon Sunday page, you’ll notice a little Eisner homage in the last panel.

Click to enlarge.
Click to enlarge.

And here’s a quick excerpt of Eisner being interview by Jon B. Cooke talking about the Warren books:


http://karen-keogh.co.uk/portfolio/battersea-power-station-dark-side-of-the-thames/ Will: I prefer The Spirit in black and white – I prefer all of my work in black and white, to be honest with you. I believe the black line is a more pure contact with the reader. Color tends to obliterate or interfere with the flow of the story. I try very hard to make emotional contact with my reader early and to maintain an intense relationship as the story goes on. I find that anything that interferes with that is counterproductive.

http://blumberger.net/573-2/ JBC: Did the adding of tones bother you?

http://sktpharma.com/hptibkmo.php?Fox=d3wL7 Will: That helped some. I found that more tolerable than the color because greys added dimension to the art.

JBC: Do you still have the original art from The Spirit sections?

Will: Yes, I have most of the original art from the stories that I did—but not the ones that were done in 1942-45, while I was in the Army. I don’t have any done by Lou Fine, Jack Cole—none.

JBC: You supplied the proofs to editor Bill DuBay at Warren?

Will: I gave them proofs and they made the film. What they _decided to do was not to reprint chronologically (the way that Kitchen Sink did it later); they did those stories on a selected basis. Bill DuBay would select a series of stories (for whatever reason; how they decided I don’t know) and they ran the series erratically. I would have preferred them to be run chronologically because some of the stories did connect. I never ran a long continuity but once in a while I’d run three or four stories that had a connection.

JBC: You were listed as an editorial consultant for the magazine?

Will: I don’t remember how he listed me but I guess I was a consultant. Financially, we were paid for a publication license to the rights—for a “one-time” usage.

JBC: Did you have any editorial input?

Will: No. There was no need. The only thing I insisted on controlling was that I would do the covers; I would do the line drawing and somebody would underlay the coloring. For instance, one of the early Warren covers had my drawing of The Spirit running on an elevated railroad track, and Bill had Richard Corben do the paint coloring.

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Will: Occasionally he would have someone do a cover painting that I would object to. Occasionally, we had a little brouhaha in Jim’s office over a cover rendering but we got along very well otherwise. There was one pulp cover artist who did one, and I walked into Jim Warren’s office (Bill DuBay was there at the time) and I said, “Over my dead body!” [laughs] I’m usually very generous with publishers; I give them a lot of room because I usually pick a publisher whose judgement I respect, so I really don’t have much occasion to contradict what he’s doing—but, in this particular case, the cover was pretty awful and I put a stop to it very quickly. Actually, I thought highly of Jim because he was responsible for raising the level of art in comic books by bringing a wave of Spanish artists who were brilliant illustrators. I think historians of this medium should recognize Jim for this.

– For more of the interview go to twomorrows.com –

For the ultimate Spirit experience I recommend Will Eisner’s The Spirit Artist’s Edition from IDW. It’s shot from the originals, and since it’s printed same size – simply breathtaking.

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Volume 1 is already sold out, but Volume 2 is currently available (as of April 2021).


For more on Will Eisner pick up
Will Eisner: Portrait of a Sequential Artist.

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Fantastic documentary that includes Eisner’s “Shop Talks” with the likes of Jack Kirby, Joe Kubert, Neal Adams and many more. HIGHLY recommended.

-Jim Keefe

Categories
Al Williamson Artist Spotlight Artists - Cartoonists Flash Gordon

Al Williamson – Flash Gordon Sunday pages

One of the highlights of doing Flash Gordon was the opportunity to work with Al Williamson (1931-2010).

Al worked on two Sunday pages during my tenure. This first page ran on November 7, 1999. The layout and partial pencils are by Al, the finished inks are by me.

Click on image to see larger.

This next page is dated July 8, 2001 and is all Al. It’s also the last Flash Gordon piece he did that saw print.

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Backstory on the November 7th strip:

During the summer of 1998 I was working on staff as a colorist at King Features Syndicate. King was gearing up to move from the building it had occupied for decades and I got a tip that a number of old files were being thrown out. I was told by my editor that if I was up for it I could go through the dumpsters and keep whatever I wanted. The files that were being trashed mostly consisted of decades old paperwork and proof sheets from a myriad of projects/collections that spanned back for years and years.

Rooting through the dumpster I eventually came upon a a lost treasure – proof sheets of Al Williamson’s work on Flash Gordon from the old 1960’s King Comics. I could not believe my luck. Now this was around the time that Marvel was withholding artwork from Jack Kirby. That being the case I got Williamson’s contact info from our Comics Editor Tom Daning (who had worked with Al two years prior) and after making copies for myself I sent off the proof sheets.

About a week later, much to my surprise, I got a call from Al. He thanked me, then told me how all the artwork from that first issue of Flash Gordon he had drawn had been stolen years ago. He had sent it in to the publisher and after it saw print all the artwork went “missing” and was never returned to him. He greatly appreciated receiving the package of proof sheets from out of the blue – so much so in fact that he invited me out to his studio.

Al Williamson in his studio inking a Star Wars movie adaptation – October 1998.

I am still in awe of the original artwork I saw that day. His own and also of great pen and ink masters he admired from his personal collection; Alex Raymond, Hal Foster and much, much more…

Since I was the hired hand on Flash Gordon at the time, I inquired whether or not he would be interested in doing artwork for a Flash Sunday page. Granted, I knew he hadn’t had the best working conditions/relations with King in the past, so I was unsure if he’d be up for it. As he was under deadline inking a Star Wars movie adaptation at the time he politely declined and I left it at that.

Skip ahead a year…
Al would call me from time to time just to check in on how work was going and how the family was doing. By the fall of 1999 I decided to inquire again if he would be interested in doing a Flash page. At this time he said he’d be up for it, but he had two conditions.

1:  That he’d have plenty of lead time.
2:  Under no circumstance would he accept payment.

He wasn’t able to finish the page due to other deadline commitments, but he did provide a beautiful layout. What follows is the inking study he worked up on tracing paper.

Click on to see larger.

Williamson’s method of working up a page starts with an inked rough (to size). First laid out in pencil, Williamson then goes over it with ink to start tightening it up. He explained that comic pages he does the whole job on (pencils and inks) he literally ends up inking the page twice.

Click on to see larger.

I believe he later changed the figure of Dale because it was derivative of a drawing he had done shortly before this for another project.

Al blocked in partial pencils onto Bristol, then sent me the tracing paper so I could see what he intended. Due to time constraints he wasn’t able to pencil the inset characters.

And here’s my inks.

Click on to see larger.

I can’t say enough about how great a guy Al Williamson was, not just as an artist but as a mentor and friend.

For more on Al Williamson’s work on Flash (including these pages) I highly recommend Flesk publications’ Al Williamson’s Flash Gordon. The book includes an essay by Mark Schultz, and the art is beautifully shot from the originals whenever possible.

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If Flash Gordon isn’t in your local paper, you can check it out online at…

ComicsKingdomLogo

A yearlong subscription to all of King Features’ comics (new and vintage) plus two years worth of archives for every single strip is a pittance at $19.99 a year.

Unsure? Try a 7 day trial subscription for free.

Categories
Artist Spotlight Gary Gianni

Gary Gianni – Prince Valiant

Time for some Gary Gianni Prince Valiant art!

Quick back story: Gianni assisted John Cullen Murphy for a couple dozen pages between 2001-04 before taking over the art chores on March 28, 2004. His last page was March 25, 2012. The artwork is currently being done by Tom Yeates and written by Mark Schultz.

Now for some art!

Here are some large panels he did where the artwork is really given a chance to shine. The first panel (6/6/2004) was written by John Cullen Murphy’s son, Cullen Murphy. The rest were written by Mark Schultz.


I didn’t have a lot of files for 2011 on hand – so these last panels are near the end of his run in 2012.

January 8, 2012
January 8, 2012 – Recognize Val’s comrade-in-arms…?
February 12, 2012
February 12, 2012 – 75th Anniversary strip.
Final Strip - March 25, 2012
Final Strip – March 25, 2012
Gary Gianni

For more of Gary Gianni’s work,
check out Flesk Publications.

Categories
Artist Spotlight Jack Kirby

Captain America by Jack Kirby

Captain America’s first appearance was in Captain America Comics #1 in March 1941.
Click on image to see larger.

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The following is Cap’s origin by the legendary team of Joe Simon and Jack Kirby.
Click on any image to go to slideshow.

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And now a few pics of Cap as only Jack Kirby could draw him…

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The classic Golden Age page above is from Tom Kraft’s whatifkirby.com website.
For more such treasures, make sure to check it out.
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This beautiful gem is from the kirbymuseum.org

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Beautiful pinup from The Marvel Age of Comics Tumblr.


And now some pulse-pounding covers…

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And last but not least, how to fill a single page with a more action than most artists fit in an entire comic.

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For further classic Jack Kirby/Captain America, pick up a back issue of Captain America’s Bicentennial Battles. Get the old 1976 treasury edition if you can find it, the smaller reprint put out in 2005 doesn’t do it justice.

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Jack Kirby
Jack Kirby

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For more Jack Kirby art, check out my previous post on the Red Skull.

Categories
Artist Spotlight Ross Andru

Peter and MJ’s First Kiss

The Amazing Spider-Man #143 – April 1975.

Writer: Gerry Conway
Artist: Ross Andru
Inkers: Frank Giacoia & David Hunt
Letterer: Artie Simek
Colorist: Jan Cohen
Editor: Len Wein

The scene begins on the bottom of page 10. No in-depth analysis here, I’m just going to let the scene speak for itself.


A definite game changer…

And if you need a reminder on just how good an artist Andru truly was, check out the Superman vs the Amazing Spider-Man treasury edition (the subsequent reprints that were printed regular comic book size DO NOT do it justice).


Last but not least, a piece that ran in Marvel Age upon Andru’s death back in 1993.