March 2nd, 2009

The Zombie

Happy Will Eisner Week!

March 1 -  OK, so I had a little break there, didn't I?  Essentially, I posted nothing in the ol' WOMP-Blog for the entire month of February (other than a days-late entry for "January 31st").  Why?  Well, it started with health problems.  Yes, I was sick again...SURPRISE!  Then, as I got better, I got busy (both of which are good things, of course).  I've had many art commissions, many art-related meetings, two days spent at Bluff View Intermediate School talking about cartooning, a heavy "real" work schedule, and many days spent helping O.F.O.WOMP William Waite move back to Prairie du Chien.  Around February 26th I did find myself with the time and energy to post something, but I decided that February was a total loss, blogging-wise, so I held off until now.  So, let's get to it!

First, let me welcome you to Day One of Will Eisner Week! 

(photo borrowed directly from the Will Eisner web-site)

Yep, this first week of March marks the 92nd anniversary of Eisner's birth, and, to celebrate this pioneering comic book artist, several comics-related organizations and schools have created this event (read more about it HERE and HERE).  In that spirit, over the next few days I want to count-down for you...

Seven Ways That
Changed My Life!

Number Seven - Will Eisner helped me get into the Joe Kubert School!  Of course, I never actually met Mr. Eisner, and he didn't literally facilitate my acceptance into Big Joe's House of Kubert, but my appreciation of the artist/creator of The Spirit did!  Before a final decision about enrolling me in his school, Mr. Kubert called my home to interview me.  That was a thrill (one which I actually recorded...for posterity?).  For about two hours, I had a personal conversation with one of the greatest comics artists of all time...and the main topic was me.  We discussed my career goals, my horrible portfolio, and my influences.  I talked about Jack Kirby, Don Newton, Steve Ditko, Frank Miller, and, mostly, Will Eisner.  At the time, I had no idea that Mr. Eisner was more-or-less Mr. Kubert's collegiate competition, having taught cartooning at New York's School of Visual Arts.  Oops.  I went on and on about how much I admired and hoped to emulate Mr. Eisner's innovative layouts and storytelling.  Yes, I enthusiastically  - naively - proceeded to tell Joe Kubert how awesome Will Eisner was...and I never, not even once, talked about how much Mr. Kubert had influenced me (which he had, just not as much).  When I finally came up for air, there was a brief pause on the other end of the line, then Mr. Kubert said something like "You're right, John.  And you said the magic word; storytelling."  Joe proceeded to briefly tell me about how much Will Eisner had helped and influenced him in his career, pretty much from the start.  Far from holding against me my adoration of Mr. Eisner, Joe said that my interests and influences were the reasons why he stamped my application "ACCEPTED."  So, in a very real way, not only did Will Eisner help me get into the Joe Kubert School, but he was instrumental in inspiring the school itself!  Thanks, Mr. Eisner!

_ _ _ _ _ _ _

Now, it's time to get back on track with my "...Of The Day" feature, and I think it's time for more fun.  In fact, I think it's time for More Fun Comics, perhaps the quintessential Golden Age comic book title.  Published first as just New Fun in 1935, then, after the name change, from 1936 to 1947, this groundbreaking book was DC's first and longest running series, due in part to the continual metamorphoses it went through, mirroring the changes in comics during those years.  Starting out as a collection of humor comics, MFC eventually encompassed every type of story, including historical fiction, detective mysteries, illustrated classics, rollicking adventure, imaginative fables, patriotic pabulum, and superheroes....lots of superheroes.  More Fun Comics was also a laboratory for the comics medium.  It's where Siegel and Shuster tried out their first superheroic character, Doctor Occult (who, in the pages of MFC, morphed from a fedora-and-trenchcoat paranormal investigator to a be-caped adventurer who was very similar to his decades-later descendent, Marvel's Doctor Strange).  Even the very format of what a comic book "is" was changed and solidified over the course of its run.  To commemorate this pioneering comic, I'll post a different seminal More Fun Comics character's name each night as part of my "...Of The Day" feature.  I am also planning to honor the spirit of the title by devoting the entire month to FUN!  And just how do I propose to do that?  Well, knowing a bit about who reads this ol' WOMP-Blog, it will be nerdy, wordy fun.  Here's the basic premise; I want to hear from you, starting tonight with your thoughts on...

Pitch It To Me #1; The International Association of Investigating Adventurers - As I compiled the list of More Fun Comics characters, I was struck by the large number of investigators and private detectives among their ranks.  In fact, even superheroes are generally detectives of some sort.  "Wouldn't it be cool," I thought, "if they all belonged to a fraternal order or club of some sort, wherein especially difficult open cases and unsolved mysteries were secretly investigated?"  That's when I had the idea for a the I.A.I.A..  So, how to proceed?  Let me get the ball rolling.  The year is 1953.  The United States is gripped with the perceived threat of The Red Menace.  "Something Big and Dangerous" happens behind the public facade of the government, but it can't be resolved through normal channels because of the overbearing climate of fear and suspicion.  It somehow falls to the members of I.A.I.A. to quickly and quietly solve the mystery/resolve the crisis without exposing their group to public exposure, McCarthyist inquisition, and/or the very real threat of whatever is revealed as the truth behind "Something Big and Dangerous."  The various I.A.I.A. members, whether extraordinary agents of various government agencies (like Pete "T-Man" Trask, Navy Lieutenant Bob Neal),  members of police departments (Slam Bradley, "Radio Squad" cops Sandy Keane and Larry Trent), private investigators (Dover and Clover), adventurers (Congo Bill, Captain Desmo), or oddball personalities (TV detective Roy Raymond, "Genius" Jones), must pool their collective skills to save the day.  Sound interesting?  Then Pitch It To Me!  Reply to this entry (via the WOMP-Blog Archives on LiveJournal) with what you think the "Something Big and Dangerous" might be, who would be involved, how the story would progress, etc., and we'll see what we can come up with!  Take your time, but try to post your ideas by March 28th.  At the end of the month, I'll use the best suggestions to post a short story and, hopefully, an original illustration to go with it!  For now, I leave you with your first More Fun Comics Character of The Day - Ginger Snap!