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Preview: Super Patriotic Heroes

Super Patriotic Heroes

Will Eisner, Charles Sultan, Alex Schomburg, Richard Hughes, Various (w & a)

These full-color comic stories from World War II tell of true role models of the patriotic ideal. Starting with The Shield and followed by Captain America, a whole battalion of red, white, and blue heroes appeared on the four-color page to help fight the Nazis. Their fascinating history and their stirring tales will both entertain and inspire new generations! See the two-fisted, three-colored Miss America, The Fighting Yank, Super-American, U.S. Jones, Captain Freedom, Lady Liberty, Major Victory, American Eagle, Captain Victory, and many more!

HC • FC • $34.99 • 224 pages • ISBN: 978-1-68405-179-3

Sheena Queen of the Jungle Reboot in the Works

There is a Sheena Queen of the Jungle Reboot in the works through Millenium Pictures. The movie is based on the comic of the same name and the character created by Will Eisner and ‎Jerry Iger. Sheena first appeared in 1937 in British comic magazine Wags, but her real claim to fame came state side when in 1942 Sheena became the first female comic book character to have her own titled series in Fiction Comics. Just months before Wonder Woman would debut with her own title.

Sheena has been a TV series in the 50s, a film in the 80s and was rebooted again in 2000 in another series starring Gena Lee Nolin. And on August 16, the comic got a reboot through imprint Dynamite Comics with DC Comics Bombshells’ writer Marguerite Bennett, Christina Trujillo and artist Moritat.

Thank God Bennet et, al. are updating the story. In the original, Sheena was raised in the jungle, could talk to animals, had superior fighting skills and was fearless but promptly reverted to a damsel in distress the moment she met a white man for the first time. Because 1947.

So what do you think? Have you read the comic? Can Millenium take Sheena and make her into as big of a blockbuster hit as Wonder Woman? Sheena Queen of the Jungle is set to release in the summer of 2018.

Auburn, NY to Celebrate Will Eisner Week

Explore the life and work of Will Eisner with Auburn, N.Y.’s Seymour Library on Monday March 6th with a panel presentation/film screening and on Tuesday, March 7th with a documentary at Auburn Public Theater.

Will Eisner (1917-2005) was a trailblazer in the comic book world, showing the public that comics could be a genuine form of literature and popularizing the term graphic novel. His landmark comic series The Spirit (1940-1952) was noted for its expressive artwork and experiments in content and form. This year marks the centennial of Will Eisner’s birth.

Geek Culture expert Ed Catto will host a panel on Will Eisner: Celebrating Graphic Novels: An Appreciation of Comics as Literature at Seymour Library on Monday, March 6th at 6:30 pm. The panel will provide an overview of Eisner’s work and highlight other graphic novels that demonstrate the enduring power of Eisner’s convictions. There will be a screening of the 2008 film adaptation of Eisner’s The Spirit, after the panel.

The documentary Will Eisner: Portrait of a Sequential Artist will be held at the Auburn Public Theater on Tuesday, March 7th at 7pm.  Ed Catto will introduce the documentary.

Industry support for this event has been strong:

  • Dynamite Entertainment is donating comics and a hardcover collection of their recent Spirit series as giveaways to attendees
  • Syracuse’s Salt City Comic-Con (June 24th-June 25th) will randomly give away tickets during both events
  • Paul Levitz, author of Will Eisner: Champion of the Graphic Novel will be donating a signed copy of this recent book to Auburn’s Seymour Library

Ed Catto is a marketing strategist and speaks frequently on Geek Culture and Comic Book History.

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Will Eisner The Centennial Celebration At the Society of Illustrators, March 1–June 3, 2017 Curated by Denis Kitchen and John Lind

The lasting legacy that Will Eisner (1917–2005) has in sequential art cannot be overstated—he is known as the Champion of the Graphic Novel. His innovative storytelling, layouts, and art on his newspaper series The Spirit inspired a generation of cartoonists, and his turn toward an acclaimed run of graphic novels, beginning in 1978 with A Contract with God, helped pioneer the form. Among the honors bestowed upon Eisner are the Reuben Award, the Milton Caniff Lifetime Achievement Award, the Yellow Kid Award, and multiple Harvey Awards and Eisner Awards—the latter of which were named in his honor.

From March 1, 2017, until June 3, 2017, the Society of Illustrators in New York will host this two-floor retrospective—the largest Eisner exhibition ever in the United States. This exhibit, curated by Denis Kitchen and John Lind, comprises over 150 pieces that include original artwork from Smash Comics (1939); key sequences from his graphic novels including A Contract with God (1978), Life on Another Planet (1983), A Life Force (1988), To the Heart of the Storm (1991), and more than 40 pages of originals from The Spirit (1940–1952) newspaper section. Also included are personal items from Eisner’s career, such as his studio drawing board, brushes, and awards.

An opening reception for the exhibition is scheduled at the Society of Illustrators on the evening of March 10, from 7:30 PM to 11:00 PM. Suggested donation of $20 to the Society in support of their programming and exhibitions. Cash bar in the Society’s Hall of Fame gallery will be open until midnight.

On April 22, there will be a Gallery Talk led by curators Denis Kitchen and John Lind.

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Review: Will Eisner’s The Spirit #1

TNSpirit01CovAPowell“Who killed The Spirit?”

I must say this was just a good ol’ fashioned reminder of what was the Golden Age of comics. The Spirit is a character (created by master comic book legend Will Eisner) who has been around since 1940 and reading this harkened back to that time period. For those who are unaware, The Spirit is the crime fighting alter ego of hardboiled private detective Denny Colt. The quick easy explanation is one night on the trail of his arch-enemy Dr. Cobra, Denny barges brazenly into a fight and in the process of getting shot at is exposed to a chemical which “kills” him in the line of duty. Long time fans know though, Denny Colt does not die. He was actually in a state of suspended animation and he comes back to fight crime. (Perfectly acceptable comic book logic there.)

Now this latest volume from Dynamite Entertainment serves as our reintroduction to The Spirit and his world. When I read who would be helming this project I was excited. Matt Wagner who is a long time fan of Will Eisner and pulp comics, made me feel this would be in terrific hands. I had only wished he was drawing in addition to scripting the book. Nevertheless I remained very hopeful.

The issue opens up with a splash page of a Central City Gazette Newspaper and it’s headline “Who killed The Spirit?” I like how the date is blurred out but from the surroundings and the rest of the comic you can tell it’s supposed to be in the  1940’s. Leaving it blurred allows for the reader to have a suspension of disbelief and keeps the story timeless. (Something that all comics should be in my humble opinion) Immediately after the splash page we are reintroduced to Commissioner Dolan, who is being interrogated by a newshound demanding he reveals what he knows about The Masked Mystery Man’s disappearance. Of course Dolan brushes it off by stating he knows what we all know, and that’s nothing.  Refreshingly the reporter states he doesn’t believe it as there is way too close of a connection to the late Mr. Colt and the good commissioner. (Good for him, a reporter with brains in the Golden Age is rare)

Dolan gets to his office for a reprieve to think to himself about the events that lead to Denny Colt becoming The Spirit and in the process reintroduce his origins to new readers. As he’s reminiscing, the arrival of his daughter Ellen (a striking blonde beauty usually clad in all white, who just happened to be love of our masked hero’s former life) She’s there to introduce her daddy to her new beau Archibald Shale who is up and coming on the fast track to be a district attorney. Dolan exchanges pleasantries and Ellen shows Archie out of the room for a moment of private time with her father. The Commissioner says a comment alluding to his daughters relationship with Shale being a sham, and Ellen gets defensive. Commissioner Dolan reminds her of what today is the anniversary of. Ellen then says it’s been two years since Denny’s death and she’s moved on. She had to. On her way out of the office though she breaks down to her dad that she really misses him. Dolan replies to his daughter “We all miss him.” “All of us.”

We then switch gears and go across town to the office door of Strunk & White: Private Investigators. One of the partners is actually Ebony White, long time sidekick of The Spirit now out on his own. Apparently the fledgling team is having trouble drumming up clientele and they are willing to take just about any case to keep the doors open. Sammy Strunk the younger partner to Ebony heads out with him on the case. There is a scene in the car where he asks Ebony what his real name is (Obviously his parents did not name him Ebony White or they have no sense of irony) and it’s a funny little moment.

After the name revelation, the rest of the issue features the introduction of a new character and a new direction as the former sidekick decides to honor his mentor by finding out what happened to him. This obviously sets up the tone for the new series and giving some face time to the supporting cast which I am ok with to start out.

Overall: This was a fun little read, but it read quite too quickly. I wanted a little bit more from this team’s opening salvo as I have always been a fan of The Spirit character and pulp comic heroes in general. I thought it was cool to reintroduce the audience by fleshing out the supporting cast without the title hero around (reminded me of the episode of Arrow where the team has to endure in Ollie’s absence) but it’s something that can only be done for an issue or two before it becomes tiresome. The writing is good enough and faithful to the source material, but I expect a little more oomph from Matt Wagner and I hope his turns it up a notch in subsequent issues. The art however I had a major disconnect with. I know it’s supposed to be presented in the style of comics in the 40’s with the simple page layouts and even the word balloon imaging but this was a definite miss. This was my first introduction to Dan Schkade’s art and it was just far too inconsistent. Main characters like The Spirit, Commissioner Dolan and Ellen were all rendered great, but any of the minor characters all came off looking very childlike. I’m hoping the art improves as he progresses because it really took me out of the story. I wish this title great success as it has so much to offer. I can’t wait to see what makes The Spirit comics great: Action, mystery, jaw dropping death traps, femme fatales, fisticuffs and did I mention the Femme Fatales? Unlike the hero himself, I hope this title doesn’t stay in suspended animation too long.

 

Story: Matt Wagner Art: Dan Schenke
Story: 7.5 Art: 5 Overall: 6 Recommendation: Read (for The Spirit fans)

 

 

 

Matt Wagner Pens the Spirit to Celebrate 75 Years

Dynamite Entertainment has announced that the all-new adventures featuring Will Eisner’s legendary crimefighter Denny Colt, The Spirit, will be written by the award-winning comic creator Matt Wagner. Marking the beginning of a partnership between Dynamite and the Eisner Estate, the new series will celebrate seventy-five years of The Spirit, and its #1 launch issue will feature cover artwork from all-star illustrators Alex Ross, Eric Powell, and series writer Matt Wagner himself.

The Spirit stands among the most iconic and influential characters in the industry with a publishing history in newspapers and comic books lasting generations.  Many of the most accomplished creators in the field have carried the torch that Will Eisner set ablaze, including Darwyn Cooke, Alan Moore, Neil Gaiman, Dave Gibbons, and Joe R. Lansdale, just to name a few. Matt Wagner, whose long career in comics has yielded a vast library of critically acclaimed titles, takes the reins on The Spirit for the very first time, ensuring that Eisner’s creation endures as we enter its fourth quarter-century.

Originally published in 1939 by Quality Comics, The Spirit has long been admired for the ingenuity of its creator, Will Eisner.  Eisner’s amazing artistic skill and groundbreaking storytelling techniques in the weekly Sunday 16-page sections helped pave the way for modern comic books. His career spanned over seventy years, and he is largely considered as the inventor of the “graphic novel.” In addition to The Spirit, his most celebrated works include A Contract with God and Last Day in Vietnam. The industry’s highest accolade, the prestigious Eisner Award, is named in his honor, and awarded annually at San Diego Comic-Con International.

Dynamite’s new Will Eisner’s The Spirit is set to hit store shelves later beginning in July.

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Dynamite Takes on Will Eisner’s The Spirit for his 75th Anniversary

Dynamite10thAnnivImageDynamite Entertainment has announced that Will Eisner‘s iconic hero, The Spirit, has a new home thanks to a licensing agreement with the Eisner estate. The Spirit, a murdered cop named Denny Colt who was mysteriously brought back to life to fight crime, joins the publisher’s stable of noir-influenced iconic heroes and bestselling titles.

The Spirit’s inclusion at Dynamite is a perfect fit as the company is the home to iconic characters and series such as Flash Gordon, The Shadow, The Green Hornet, The Lone Ranger, Zorro, among others. Will Eisner created The Spirit in 1940 as a syndicated seven-page newspaper supplement, where The Spirit fought the villains of Central City weekly until 1952.

Originally published in 1939 by Quality Comics, The Spirit has long been admired for the ingenuity of its creator, Will Eisner.  Eisner’s amazing artistic skill and groundbreaking storytelling techniques in the weekly Sunday strips helped pave the way for modern comic books. His career spanned over seventy years, and he is largely considered as the inventor of the “graphic novel.” In addition to The Spirit, his most celebrated works include A Contract with God and Last Day in Vietnam. The industry’s highest accolade, the prestigious Eisner Award, is named in his honor, and awarded annually at San Diego Comic-Con International.

The Spirit is one of comicdom’s greatest characters, and has stood the test of time for nearly 75 years. Eisner is one of the greats, and his influence as a storyteller is incredible.

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History is Written by the Winners of the Marvel No-Prize

Guest commentary post from Emma Houxbois. Emma is a queer blogger for hire out of Vancouver, BC most recently attached to Girls Read Comics. You can follow her on Twitter @emmahouxbois.

no-prizeThe thing about history is that you’ve got to be really careful who you let write it. Herodotus, the guy widely acknowledged as the inventor of western history writing was known as both “The Father of History” and “The Father of Lies,” in his lifetime, and one of the reasons for that was that he never really made any kind of an effort to judge the credibility of the people he was collecting history from. It’s widely believed that he skewed towards the empowered members of society, meaning that the saying “history is written by the winners” is as old as history itself. This past week in comics, we got the rude awakening that it’s history is currently being written by the winners of the Marvel No-Prize.

For reasons unknown to anyone with a lick of sense, a panel consisting of Todd McFarlane, Len Wein, and Gerry Conway were assembled to publicize a forthcoming PBS documentary about superhero comics. While already dubious choices compared to more genuinely influential and knowledgeable prospects like Trina Robbins, Mark Waid, Karen Berger, or that mysterious Twitter account claiming to be Steranko, the trio put on an astounding display of jamming their entire legs up to the knee down their own throats. Todd McFarlane, creator of one of the best selling black superheroes in history, seems to believe that increasing diversity in comics will only lead to tokenism. Of course in 2006, when Robert Kirkman crashed McFarlane’s panel at the SDCCI, the Spawn creator had no idea who he was until he was informed by another panel member that Kirkman was “the guy who writes that zombie comic you like,” a comic published by McFarlane’s own Image Comics at the time. McFarlane also went on, during the same incident, to say in defense of having not done anything significant in comics since Spawn that “once you’ve created your Mickey Mouse or your Donald Duck, you don’t really have to do anything else.” So it isn’t as if McFarlane’s complete indifference to anything in comics that isn’t related to his personal legacy is a closely guarded secret or new information. Nor is it that he’s a noted hypocrite after having lost a lengthy legal action by Neil Gaiman to regain control of the characters he contributed to Spawn after years of McFarlane crowing about how the founding of Image was a victory for creator’s rights in the industry.

Gerry Conway was adamant that superheroes are strictly for men and boys, using a bizarre self defeating anecdote about his daughter’s disinterest in “guy stories,” mentioning Faith Erin Hicks who writes The Adventures of Superhero Girl. Of course Conway is responsible for the two most exploited fridgings in Marvel history, if not superhero comics as a whole; The Punisher’s self justification for his antics based on the death of his wife and child as well as the death of Gwen Stacy. If Conway’s own daughter is disinterested in what he calls “guy stories” and McFarlane wouldn’t use superheroes if he wanted to write a story catering to his own daughters, it has to be noted that Conway’s body of work is one of the chief culprits in disillusioning potential female readers. Of course Len Wein is the real elephant in the room, given that Alan Moore disclosed in 2006 when he approached Wein for permission to cripple Barbara Gordon in The Killing Joke, Wein told him “Yeah, okay, cripple the bitch.” Inviting Len Wein or Gerry Conway to talk about gender in comics is basically like asking Don Imus to talk about racism in sports.

At around the same time that this nonsense was unfolding, a beautiful and moving thing that happened in Japan was being circulated by Sailor Moon fans on Tumblr. The second live event detailing the festivities for the 20th anniversary of Sailor Moon and the forthcoming series was being translated, capped, and analyzed by the fervent western fans of the pop culture juggernaut. However, instead of updates on the timeline for the new series, what dominated the fan discourse were the statements by the director of the 2013 edition of the live action stage show, whose cast is entirely female. By way of explanation, he related that his understanding of Naoko Takeuchi’s manga was that it was written by women for women and so it was only natural to put on the show using only women. Not satisfied with those bold and endearing statements, he went on to say “I feel like Takeuchi Naoko’s work flew in the face of the atmosphere at the time. It said ‘women are strong, there’s nothing wrong with being strong and we should be stronger’ and as a result in these twenty years, women have become stronger in our society. That part of her work has everlasting value and I feel like now we should remind society again of the same message.” While I’m not sure that twenty years of gains for women in Japanese society can be chalked up entirely to the influence of Sailor Moon, it is heartening to hear, especially from a man in this context, the fervent belief that comics can in fact inspire positive social change. It isn’t hard to see that same belief among the western fans, as it’s an unmistakable fact that a large segment of young women active in fighting for representation in western comics are Sailor Moon fans, and the most ardent supporters of Sailor Moon are staunch feminists. Sailor Moon also continues to deeply influence female creators to this day, most notably Adventure Time contributor and Bee and Puppycat creator Natasha Allegri, whose genderbent world of Fionna and Cake rests on Sailor Moon as it’s foundation from the rabbit ears on her hat to her feline companion and even her formal gown patterned after the future Silver Millennium version of Usagi.

That Conway feels comics follow instead of lead culture is no actual reflection on the real state of the world’s last living mythology, it’s a reflection on three men who never pushed themselves or their work to a level beyond what could be most comfortably and easily sold. None of them put their careers on the line with bold statements like Dwayne McDuffie’s infamous Teenage Negro Ninja Thrashers memo or created entire critical frameworks for discussing women’s place in popular fiction like Gail Simone’s Women in the Refrigerator polemic or Alison Bechdel‘s eponymous test. It also really begs the question if any of them are aware that Captain America punched Hitler a full year before the United States entered World War II. In every decade that superhero comics have existed, they’ve lead culture. In a landscape where Orange is the New Black’s Laverne Cox, (directed by Jodie Foster in the episode revolving around her character), is making headlines and shattering the long history of cis actors being cast as trans* people, comics are leading culture. Matt Fraction is currently surfing the crest of the wave of positive portrayals of trans* people in a team book that is three quarters female. Gail Simone is poised alongside him selling out her Batgirl title in which Babs’ roommate is a trans woman. The critical importance of all three narratives cannot be underscored any stronger than by Chloe Sevigny’s current shameful behavior wearing a prosthetic penis to portray a trans woman and throwing around slurs that demean real trans women behind the scenes. Which is just one singular issue, one singular anecdote in a sea of progressive storytelling in comics that has taken the lead on issues as diverse as addiction, sex work, homophobia, racism, sexism, and domestic violence to name a few. The true history of comics isn’t a soulless echo chamber of privileged men writing exclusionist power fantasies for each other. The true history of comics is as queer and beautiful as it is ugly and heartbreaking, when it’s told by people who actually participated in and benefited from it’s queerness and beauty. Sadly many including Will Eisner, Jack Kirby, and Dwayne McDuffie have passed away but there do remain several other creators and commentators who, if given the chance, would gladly sing the praises of those and other trailblazers.

Listen to Last Night’s Graphic Policy Radio Archive With Guest Emma Houxbois

Last night was a fantastic episode of Graphic Policy Radio with guest Emma Houxbois. We covered a hell of a lot ranging in discussion from Sailor Moon and Manga to FF and the representation of various groups in comics. We pondered Matt Fraction‘s writing ability and how the last issue of Hawkeye was influenced by Will Eisner. It was a fantastic show which covered a lot of ground and one where everyone can learn something new.

Mark Waid! Paul Smith! IDW! DC Entertainment! The Rocketeer! The Spirit!

IDW Publishing and DC Entertainment have announced the meeting of two of comics’ greatest pulp heroes! Dave Stevens’ high-flying Cliff Secord will finally cross paths with Will Eisner’s iconic Denny Colt this summer in The Rocketeer/The Spirit: Pulp Friction! The four-issue series, taking off in July, will also pack quite the creative wallop, being written by multi-Eisner Award-winning scribe Mark Waid and drawn by the legendary Paul Smith!

The Rocketeer/Spirit: Pulp Friction features a murder mystery and political intrigue. From the grim and gritty streets of Central City where The Spirit navigates through the urban underbelly of corruption to the sunny skies of Los Angeles where The Rocketeer soars above the Hollywood elite, these two classic characters will become enthralled in murder, mayhem, and all manner of danger—and with a healthy dose of signature humor tossed in for good measure.

The Rocketeer/Spirit: Pulp Friction arrives in stores July 10th.

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