Tag: Will Eisner

Brainiac On Banjo: Let’s Stumble In The Jungle

Brainiac On Banjo: Let’s Stumble In The Jungle

“Walking through forests of palm tree apartments. Scoff at the monkeys who live in their dark tents. Down by the waterhole, drunk every Friday, eating their nuts, saving their raisins for Sunday. Lions and tigers who wait in the shadows; they’re fast but they’re lazy, and sleep in green meadows.” From “Bungle in the Jungle,” written by Chip Taylor, Wyclef Jean, Lauryn Hill, Trevor Smith, Stig Anderson, Kamaal Fareed, Malik Taylor, Pras Michel, Forte, Benny Andersson, and Bjoern K Ulvaeus.

Let me start this week’s disquisition with an apology. A friend of mine sent me the above piece of art which he copped off the internet. He did not know who the artist was, but it so directly relates to my experiences as a comic book fan that I’m using it anyway, with sincere apologizes to its creator. It’s fantastic, it’s right on the money, and it directly addresses one of my major four-color bugaboos.

Outside of the obvious, which is clearly seen in the above purloined artwork, I never understood the massive appeal of jungle girl comics. By and large, these stories were exquisitely drawn but horribly overwritten. Of course, there wasn’t a lot of room to do brilliant heroic jungle action stories, and usually there was a male companion/savior involved. The late 40s / early 50s were like that. I guess women in four-color or full color needed saviors back then.

Only a handful of jungle heroes had “legs” — that is, the ability to successfully endure in their own title for a long period of time. There were a lot jungle women, mostly white, all in terrific shape and clothed in barnstorming costumes. Mind you, they all wore more than, say, Tarzan, but they wore it better.

These women were immortalized by a plethora of terrific artists such as Matt Baker, Frank Frazetta, Bill Everett, Bob Powell, George Evans, Lou Fine, Mort Meskin, Ralph Mayo, and Maurice Whitman… to name but a few. Clearly, these casting decisions made everybody quite happy. Continue reading “Brainiac On Banjo: Let’s Stumble In The Jungle”

Brainiac On Banjo: Wanna Buy A Duck?

Brainiac On Banjo: Wanna Buy A Duck?

“It paints you with indifference, like a lady paints with rouge, and the worst of the worst, the most hated and cursed, is the one that we call Scrooge. Unkind as any, and the wrath of many, this is Ebenezer Scrooge.” – Scrooge, written by Paul Williams.

O.K. I’ll admit it. When I first saw a cover to Uncle Scrooge and The Infinity Dime, I thought it was a variant for one of the Avengers titles. Obviously, I was mistaken. It was one of 13 different covers — you tell me which is not the variant — of Marvel’s first-ever (kinda) produced Disney legacy characters comic book.

I doubt I would have guessed Jason Arron would be the writer. Not that I have a bad opinion of his work; quite the contrary. It just didn’t occur to be that a Punisher writer, not to mention Superman, The (various) Avengers, Batman, and the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles — among a treasure trove of others — would be the person to waddle in the palmate footpath of Carl Barks and Don Rosa.

Back when I first entered the friendly confines of organized comic book fandom, and I use the word “organized” advisedly, it seemed as though there were four things “everybody” was collecting: Will Eisner’s The Spirit, EC Comics, All-Star Comics (the Justice Society of America, although no one would pass up those first two issues), and Carl Barks. Well, mostly Barks’ duck stories, although, again, nobody would pass up his Porky Pig. Barks’ nickname was “the good duck artist” because it took a while for us to learn the names of the rest of Disney’s flock of talent. Continue reading “Brainiac On Banjo: Wanna Buy A Duck?”

With Further Ado #120: Bill Turner and Frazetta

With Further Ado #120: Bill Turner and Frazetta

Bill Turner is guy who’s been impressing me for over 40 years. I first met him when I was a kid attending the early ITHACON Comic Conventions.  As a college student, my school was located in town so I joined the Comic Club of Ithaca and helped out a bit on a few legendary ITHACON conventions. And now, teaching at Ithaca College, it’s a privilege and an honor to work with him again (along with Professor Katharine Kittredge, Carmela Merlo and many other impressive folks) on ITHACON.

And with that, I have a real treat this week.  I’m turning over the reins of With Further Ado to Bill Turner, as he’s the guest columnist this week with a fascinating tale of comics and fandom – from 1977.  Take it away, Bill!

Frazetta 1977

Sept. 10-11, 1977
Penn Stroud Hilton Inn, Stroudsburg PA

by Bill Turner
©2020 William R. Turner III – all rights reserved

Advertised guests of honor: Ellie Frazetta, Harvey Kurtzman

Other scheduled guests: Michael Kaluta, Bernie Wrightson, Charles Vess, Steve Hickman, Ken Kelley, Ian and Betty Ballantine

Surprise guests: Will Eisner, Burne Hogarth, Jerry Robinson

In September of 1977, I decided to attend the Frazetta 1977 exhibit in Stroudsburg, PA that was being organized by Charlie Roberts and Chuck Miller. I had met them both at the Lancaster Comic Art Convention that they held in 1975 and 1976, and I had bought an item or two of artwork from Charlie and the first of the Underwood-Miller books from Chuck, so I was on their mailing list. We had just bought a house, so I was quite busy and planned to go down only for Saturday; it was a bit over three hours each way, a day trip. I invited Tim Gray and Aaron Pichel to join me, and they accepted. We are three of the founding members of the Comic Book Club of Ithaca and had run two ITHACON conventions by that time, so of course we could talk about comics all day, any day. I was 25, Tim 24, and Aaron 15 years old. Continue reading “With Further Ado #120: Bill Turner and Frazetta”

Brainiac On Banjo #046: Prescient Murders

Brainiac On Banjo #046: Prescient Murders

You probably heard about the mass shootings in a El Paso Texas Walmart and in Northeast Ohio this weekend. Maybe not; these two were the third and fourth such slaughter this week, and we’re getting accustomed to it. As of this writing – Sunday evening – 29 bodies have been found and several dozen have been hospitalized. The alleged shooter in Texas is in custody., the alleged shooter in Ohio was killed at the scene.

Right now we have endured 2,191 mass shootings since the Sandy Hook Elementary School murders that happened on December 14, 2012. That was less than seven years ago. If that hasn’t provided us with sufficient warning, and even if they have, I would like to direct your attention to an amazingly prescient movie made in 1971, based upon a play that opened on Broadway four years earlier. Both were labelled as “black comedies” but that exposes the downside of prescience: what was black comedy a half-century ago has evolved into a documentary. Continue reading “Brainiac On Banjo #046: Prescient Murders”

With Further Ado #042: The Spirit …of Creativity and Entrepreneurialism

With Further Ado #042: The Spirit …of Creativity and Entrepreneurialism

Will Eisner was an astonishingly creative guy who was also quite the entrepreneur. All these years later, another very creative person with a strong entrepreneurial streak is combining these two strengths, with a dash of Einser thrown in. I was very excited to catch up with Chris Irving on his latest project:

Ed Catto: This new Spirit project sounds fascinating. Can you tell me about it?

Christopher Irving: Denis Kitchen and I have been talking about comics, comics history, and trading cards for a while, and it just seemed natural for me to create a set of cards on Will Eisner’s classic The Spirit. Truthfully: I’ve been jonesing to do a set on Denny Colt and company for a while, and am grateful to Carl and Nancy Gropper of the Eisner Estate, as well as Denis, for giving me this chance.

Also, this is a chance to work with Denis, who has long been one of my heroes as a publisher, creator, and advocate for comics. Funny thing is I was once going to intern for Kitchen Sink Press, but they then closed shop. In a way, this is my chance at finally getting to that internship.

The card set is fully funded, so far, for 50 cards and a tuck box; the stretch goals we’ve met include putting the character cards on old school vintage chipback (like the trading cards of yore!) and, hopefully by the time this sees print, a high quality thick card stock for the splash page cards. I think the real kicker with this set, and the reason I really want fans of Will’s work to know about the campaign, is there will be no backstock. 

In short: I won’t have packs for sale after the campaign and the only chance to get them is to pledge by May 17th.

[check it out here RIGHT NOW!  -Adriane Continue reading “With Further Ado #042: The Spirit …of Creativity and Entrepreneurialism”

Brainiac on Banjo #033: A Matter of Perspective

Brainiac on Banjo #033: A Matter of Perspective

If you’ve ever had any inclination to be an artist, or if you’re old and decrepit enough to have had art class in grammar school, you probably received at least a rudimentary education in topics such as perspective, gravity and physics. Drawing remains (for the time being) a two-dimensional experience and so the pencil pushers in the comic book medium must figure out how to represent our three-dimensional world in a medium that lacks visual depth.

Our friends in the closely-related field of animation figured this out long before most of us were born. You ignore physics and keep the story running so fast the viewer is undaunted by technicalities. Bob Clampett’s Porky In Wackyland – the best cartoon ever – employs this concept in nearly every frame. It’s the very purpose of the cartoon. Chuck Jones’ Road Runner series, for the same studio, uses perspective manipulation as a running gag throughout the run: Wile E. Coyote runs off a cliff but does not fall until he realizes he’s run off that cliff. Then he falls into a chasm so deep it would make the Grand Canyon cross its legs. He survives the fall even though the intensity of the drop is so great he’s pounded into the ground – still alive – and usually gets hit on the head by a chunk of that cliff.

In this, Wile E. has defied all three of the laws of motion. I think Isaac Newton would have laughed his ass off, but then again, he very well might have been deeply offended.

We’ve seen all kinds of wacky science in comics. Sometimes, defying physics comes off just fine. After all, if The Hulk really existed and he really could get from point A to point B by scrunching down and leaping into the air, that “equal but opposite reaction” thing would cause quite a stir. So which laws of physics do you obey, and which can you ignore? Continue reading “Brainiac on Banjo #033: A Matter of Perspective”

Batton Lash, 1953 – 2019

Batton Lash, 1953 – 2019

Writer / artist Batton Lash died Saturday of complications from a “very aggressive” form of brain cancer. Whereas he was fighting the disease for several years, according to his widow Jackie Estrada it recurred two months ago.

A one-time assistant to Howard Chaykin, the Brooklyn native was a graduate of the School of Visual Arts, where he learned his craft from teachers that included Will Eisner and Harvey Kurtzman. He created Wolff & Byrd – Counselors of the Macabre in 1979 where it ran in The Brooklyn Paper as well as in The National Law Journal. From there Wolff & Byrd appeared in a wide variety of comics, including a rather stellar story in the Munden’s Bar feature in GrimJack (I’m not taking any credit here; the story was edited by the gifted Anina Bennett). Several years later, the series was published on its own as Supernatural Law by Exhibit A Press, an outfit established by Batton and Jackie.

Batton racked up quite a number of assignments, including The Big Book series from Paradox/DC Comics, the Eisner Award-winning Radioactive Man for Bongo (a Simpson’s spin-off title), and one of my personal favorites – the story is as good as the concept – Archie Meets The Punisher for Archie Comics. Recently, he produced The First Gentleman of the Apocalypse for David Lloyd’s Aces Weekly.

One of his classiest acts was having his studio, which he shared with artist Bob Smith, at the one-time home to EC Comics, 225 Lafayette Street. He racked up a sizable number of awards nominations and was the recipient of the 2009 Independent Book Publishers Association’s Benjamin Franklin Award for Graphic Novels.

Batton made no secret of his political views and worked with James D. Hudnall on an anti-Obama feature for Andrew Breitbart. He endured some criticism, and I should point out that he counted among his friends any number of left-leaning members of the comics community, as well as at least one outright radical.

Jackie, of course, was the long-time organization provocateur of the San Diego Comic-Con and past president of the Friends of Lulu. She will be continuing the publishing program at Exhibit A that she and her husband had established.

And, no, Batton was not a lawyer. He was one of the greats of the independent comic book field. His go-to attorney was Mitch Berger, a comics fan and a former member of DC’s legal team.

Memorials are being planned in both San Diego and New York City.

Batton was 65. He was one of the best.

– Mike Gold