March 4th, 2009

The Zombie

Never Do The Same Thing Twice (*)

March 3 -  Will Eisner Week is going strong, but I haven't heard anything about it in the "real" press yet.  That's OK, I suppose.  He's sort of "our" guy.  Trying to explain to "outsiders" just who Mr. Eisner was, or what made him so great that we need an entire week devoted to his legacy, is like trying to explain a symphony to the deaf.  I mean, he didn't create Batman or Superman or anything.  In fact, other than a tribute piece or two that he produced later in life, I don't think that he had any significant, direct involvement in "mainstream" comics since the 1940's.  I once tried to describe him as the "Ben Franklin of comic books;" he was an indispensable figure from the very beginning, guiding it all with his immeasurable strengths and unmatched talents, but he was never the "President."  Just like Dr. Franklin, we all owe Mr. Eisner so much for what he did for us (especially we comics folk).  That brings us naturally to the next part of my countdown of... 

Seven Ways That
Changed My Life!

Number Five - Will Eisner challenged me to never do the same thing twice (*)!  When I first decided to really pursue a comics career, I began to look at the actual work of creating a comic book.  This is back in the days before home computers and long before the Interwebs, so I studied by purchased and library-loaned books, mostly.  Many of these were collected volumes of old comics.  One of the first, most obvious differences between mainstream comic book collections and those of Mr. Eisner's classic The Spirit was that The Spirit had no actual logo.  Everyone knows the iconic Superman logo because the same one was used over and over again (thanks to photostats), but for it's entire ten year run, Will Eisner redrew - re-imagined, really - The Spirit's logo every single time it was used...and this was for a weekly comic! 

(Just look at these five issues of The Spirit, each with completely different logos...all from December of 1940!)

Of course, if one looks just a little deeper, this compulsion for constant invention and reinvention permeates not just the logo, but every page of
The Spirit, and everything Mr. Eisner did after that.  He was literally still drawing comics up until the day he died, and none of what he did - NONE OF NEARLY SEVENTY YEARS' WORTH OF DAILY COMICS WORK - ever repeated (* except, of course, when that repetition was an important element of the story, such as in a "wallpaper gag" or other such replicating pattern that was necessary for storytelling).  Now, while I'll cop to reluctantly using photocopies of logos, I otherwise strive to never repeat anything.  Taking my cue from Will Eisner, I'm challenged to always, always find new and different ways to...well, to do pretty much anything that I do, now that I think of it.  While Mr. Eisner's "never-do-the-same-thing-twice challenge" originally only affected how I wrote and drew comic books, it has now infected
nearly every aspect of my life (at least in regards to those things which are creative endeavors).  Today, while it sometimes means that I've made my work a little bit more difficult, it also ultimately makes that work so much more meaningful to me.  Thanks, Mr. Eisner!

_ _ _ _ _ _ _

Now some more fun!  More Fun Comics was an anthology book, featuring dozens of characters in little eight, four, or even two page stories.  Because of this, no one character was ever the "star," but a few dominated the covers.  Until issue number 52 (a weird coincidence, in light of DC's series 52, but I digress), the cover illustrations feature fairly generic humor or adventure scenarios.  Images of kids getting into preposterous trouble, swashbucklers sword-fighting on castle walls, and holiday themed scenes were forever interrupted by the grim visage of a hooded ghost rising menacingly above a gang of racketeers.  Above the logo, a bold announcement ushered in a new era of "more fun."  It read...

Starting this issue: the daring exploits of THE SPECTRE!

(This, and the Spirit covers, courtesy of The Grand Comic Book Database)

For the following five years, as World War Two raged, superheroes dominated the covers, even as all sorts of stories were still being printed inside.  In honor of these oddball spirits of vengeance, masters of mystic arts, scarlet speedsters, and heroic marksmen, I have another game for you tonight!  Below, I will post the names of a handful of strange, completely new superheroes (or supervillains?).  Pick one (or a couple, even), then reply to this entry (via
the WOMP-Blog Archives on LiveJournal
) with your ideas of what their powers are, their origin stories, or whatever else you'd like.  Be serious if it strikes you to be so, or be silly.  Either way, just have fun with it!  So, here are your candidates...

A) The Harvester
B) Gateway
C) Yaro The Invincible
D) The Clubber
E) Acropolis
F) The Tork
G) Phantom of The World Cup
H) The Fearless Cutlass
I) Gandhiman
J) The Tinsmith
K) Motion Master
L) Farmer's Daughter
M) Captain Bronto
N) Axcess
O) Mason Dixon
P) Flowerchild
Q) Skyboxer
R) Ronald Raygun
S) Sigfriedenstein
T) Mister Child
U) The Blue Ribbon
V) Originman
W) W3-X7
X) The Bounder
Y) Doctor Pentagram
Z) Baby Boomer

There has to be at least one of those that strikes your creative eye.  Go on, pick one out, and write up a little something.  Who knows, maybe it will be the next big character!  Here, then, is your More Fun Comics Character of The Day - Congo Bill!