Dec. 27, 2010 | 11:41 a.m.
REVIEW Although Will Eisner is best known for “The Spirit” and the graphic novels he wrote and drew in later life, a substantial portion of his career was devoted to creating comic-book-like pages for the U.S. Army magazine PS, the Preventive Maintenance Monthly. The magazine was established by the Department of Defense in 1951 to help American troops in Korea deal with aging equipment from World War II and new weapons that hadn’t been adequately tested. Paul E. Fitzgerald, who enjoyed a long friendship with Eisner, documents the history of the publication, especially Eisner’s contributions from 1951 to 1971, in “Will Eisner and PS Magazine” (Fitzworld.us, $59.95; 224 pp. illustrated). The didactic panels recall the “Private Snafu” cartoons that Theodore “Dr. Seuss” Geisel and the Warner Bros. animators created for the short-film program the Army-Navy Screen Magazine. Eisner’s well-intentioned but […]
Nov. 30, 2010 | 12:39 p.m.
Will Eisner is a titan figure in the history of American comics and cartooning, but does the new biography, “Will Eisner: A Dreamer’s Life in Comics” by Michael Schumacher, live up to the legend? Author Charles Solomon (“The Art of ‘Toy Story 3′”) reviewed the book for the Los Angeles Times. Here’s an excerpt: Although he neither coined the term “graphic novel” nor invented the form, Will Eisner ranks among America’s most celebrated and influential sequential artists. The creator of “The Spirit” (a comic book hero who solved crimes without recourse to superpowers or high-tech gadgetry), “The Contract With God” (depicting tenement life during the Depression) and three books on writing and drawing sequential art, Eisner has influenced a generation of artists, writers and animators, including Jules Feiffer, Art Spiegelman and Brad Bird. William Erwin Eisner was born in New York City in […]
March 18, 2010 | 3:49 a.m.
In the Times’ Sunday Calendar book review section, Josh Lambert, a New York University assistant professor and author, took a look at “Backing Into Forward: A Memoir” by Jules Feiffer, a popular cartoonist, satirist and author who also penned scripts for Will Eisner’s “The Spirit.” Though Lambert laments the dissolving popularity of comic strips in relation to graphic novels, Hero Complex thinks they can co-exist. Here’s an excerpt: Whether newspapers live or die, the prognosis for the comic strip doesn’t look promising. The extinction of the form not much more than a century after its birth would represent only a very minor tragedy too, given the rise of the graphic novel — who would shed a tear for “Hägar the Horrible” in the age of “Fun Home” and “Jimmy Corrigan: The Smartest Kid on Earth”? — except it would also […]
July 14, 2009 | 11:19 p.m.
There’s a wonderful profile of the great Jules Feiffer at the always smart and savvy Graphic NYC blog. Here are a few excerpts, but I heartily recommend taking a click trip over to the source material and reading the lengthy piece in its entirety. Kudos to the author, Christopher Irving. “I was a creature of the newspaper comic strips, which I worshipped, and they were iconic,” Jules Feiffer says from his studio in the Upper West Side, a corner room in his apartment, with windows affording a view of the city. Built-in bookcases line the walls, packed with an assortment that includes some copies of his own work, as well as the work of the classic cartoonists he grew up on. “This was extraordinary talent doing extraordinary stuff, and with comic books, it was more like early rock ‘n’ roll – we felt […]
Dec. 12, 2008 | 7:55 p.m.
For every movie that makes it to the screen, there are a thousand projects that fall to the wayside. Later this month, "The Spirit," finally, hits theaters after plenty of failed attempts. Steven Paul Leiva was a key figure in one of those failed attempts and in this guest essay for Hero Complex he talks about the film that could have been. This photo below shows Leiva, Brad Bird and the late Will Eisner at the comics icon’s White Plains, N.Y., home in 1981. Frank Miller’s film version of Will Eisner’s innovative 1940s comic book, “The Spirit” opens on Christmas Day. It will be stylistic and hyper-visual, a hoped-for perfect melding of film and “sequential art,” a term coined by Eisner. What it will not be, however, is revolutionary. Comic book movies are now the meat and potatoes — not […]
Nov. 02, 2008 | 3:54 p.m.
EXCLUSIVE The big Holiday Sneaks issue of the Los Angeles Times Calendar section hit the street today and it’s got amazing stuff in it. (It will probably be selling on EBay for $20 in a few weeks for the “Twilight” coverage alone.) The editor of the special section, Elena Howe, sent me up to the Bay Area a few months ago to get the lowdown on “The Spirit,” the Christmas Day release that will mark the solo directorial debut of Frank Miller. Here’s the story I came back with (although you can expect to see at least two more articles in The Times and more posts here at Hero Complex; I have a lot left in the notebook). –G.B. SAN FRANCISCO — No comic-book creator has seen his work brought to the screen with more reverence than Frank Miller, whose […]
Aug. 17, 2008 | 1:44 p.m.
The Sunday Review: "The Mammoth Book of Best Crime Comics" Edited by Paul Gravett (Running Press, softcover, $17.95) Earlier this year, there was quite a stir of attention (and appropriately so) for author David Hajdu’s latest book, "The Ten Cent Plague: the Great Comic-Book Scare and How it Changed America," which delved into the quirky and alarming crusades against comics in this country that reached their shrill peaks in the 1940s and 1950s. In a piece I wrote in the Los Angeles Times Book Review, I admired the research but had some problems with the focus in the final analysis. That said, the book and its tale really stuck with me, and I think it should be on the bookshelf of anyone who loves comics history. And you know what should go right next to it? "The Mammoth […]
July 30, 2008 | 5:35 p.m.
I had the honor of interviewing Will Eisner once. I was a student at the University of Florida and, after being named the editor-in-chief of the large and powerful campus newspaper there, I decided I would reward myself with a splashy vanity project. So I gave myself three full pages of space and devoted them all to a profile of Eisner, who was living further south, down in Tamarac, at the time. This was almost 20 years ago now but I still remember how Eisner — after I told him that I was a student — began to speak with such passion about teachers, schools, the years of life spent learning, the entire aura of a focused campus life. These were the days, by the way, when the aging artist flew up to New York every week to teach at […]
July 26, 2008 | 12:50 a.m.
Samuel L. Jackson explains what “BadMoFoKos” are, pays homage to L.A. comics haven Golden Apple, and decides who would win in a battle between the Octopus and Jedi Mace Windu. – Denise Martin
July 26, 2008 | 12:25 a.m.
Samuel L. Jackson just delivered the best line of the day at Comic-Con: "Aw c’mon, toilets are always funny!" That was the payoff line in the wild fight scene from "The Spirit," which for a few minutes at least, appears to meld the physics of Wile E. Coyote with the vivid noir of "Sin City." The fight scene is in a junk-strewn mud flat between Jackson’s character, the villain called The Octopus, and the title hero, portrayed by newcomer Gabriel Macht. They whack each other with cinder blocks, then a crow bar and then the hero takes a savage blow to the crotch from a giant spanner wrench. Then, in a scene that looks better than it sounds, the Octopus slams a toilet down over the hero’s head, pinning his arms to his side. The movie, by the way, is […]