shadowpsykie: Sad (We'll meet again Tiger)
[personal profile] shadowpsykie
Okay, just finished reading the Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay... it was a beautiful book. just simply beautiful... i didn't want it to end... (seriously, i stopped reading it for a while because of that...) i want more. i want more escapist stories... but what i really want to know is what happened to Sammy!

it truly was a beautiful story, and truly a love story to comic books and thier creators....
my heart breaks for sammy...i truly connected with him...

oh yeah for legality, Will Eisner Draws the Spirt and the Escapist!  )
strannik01: (Default)
[personal profile] strannik01
In the first installment of this series, I introduced you to a pair of Will Eisner's more obscure creations - an American secret agent known as Black X and a femme fatale known only as Madame Doom. While Black X appeared in comics for almost a hundred issues overall, lasting all the way to the end of the Golden Age, Madame Doom only appeared eleven times. Curiously, her appearance often changed between issues, which actually kind of makes sense. After all, she was a spy who is trying to evade attention. It's certainly makes more sense than Black X's ability to go undercover even while wearing his rather distinctive monocle (but that's a tangent for another post).

Many Faces of Madame Doom

We jump forward to Smash Comics #12, where we find our heroes facing off against Madame Doom, who allied herself with a very familiar character.

A descendant? You didn't read the original novel at all, did you? (9 pages under the cut) )

Dial-Up/Slow Wireless Link.

Suggested Tags:

char: Madame Doom
char: Black X/Richard Spencer
creator: will eisner
era: golden age
status: public domain
publisher: quality comics
strannik01: (Default)
[personal profile] strannik01
Today, Will Eisner is best remembered for the Spirit. But what many fans don't realize is that he was pretty prolific during the Golden Age, creating loads of characters (costumed or otherwise) for several different publishers. In this series of posts, we will touch on one of Eisner's more obscure creations - a femme fatale known only as Madame Doom.

Many Faces of Madame Doom

Madame Doom was a love interest and the antagonist to Black X (also known as Black Ace), one of earliest (if not the earliest) comic book spies. He was also one of Eisner's earliest creations, debuting all the way back in 1938 on the pages of Feature Funnies #13. Black X was originally Richard Spencer, a Washington bureaucrat who faked his own death in order to fight criminals and foreign spies under the cover of anonymity and plausible deniability as an agent of Department of Defense. The comic made no bones about the fact that the work Black X did was very dangerous, and Department of Defense was perfectly willing to leave him in the cold if things went south. Black X was assisted by Batu, his telepathic Indian manservant. I haven't been able to find an issue where they first met, so I have no idea why Batu would take orders from some none-powered white guy who, btw, often took his abilities for granted, but that's a whole other tangent.

In any case, now that the I got the background info out of the way, allow me to present the very first appearance of Madame Doom.

The following story originally appeared in Smash Comics #4. Writing and art by Will Eisner.

Sexual tension, sabotage, crypto-Nazis, shirtless secret agents, disguises, murder and did we mention sexual tension? (9 pages under the cut) )

Dial-Up/ Slow wireless connection link.
thanekos: Yoshikage Kira as Kosaku Kawajiri, after the second arrow. (Default)
[personal profile] thanekos
so, yeah, remember The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay?

well, in 2004, Michael Chabon (credited, amusingly, as House Manager) and Dark Horse Comics did an anthology comic about the hero those two created: the Escapist, who started life as your standard wastrel playboy and was guided into becoming a master of escape by a League who fought things oppressive and chaining.

Such enemies as Captiva, Wotan the Wicked, the Saboteur who plagued Empire City, and most deadly of all the Iron Chain, a society whose crimes were always patterned after binding and imposing. He had allies, though.

(And yes, all those creators did indeed do work for this.. it is an anthology. I forget who did what, but atleast one should be obvious.)

To keep the metanarrative thing going, the stories tended to vary in style, framed as excerpts from different moments in the character's storied history...  )
[identity profile]

Whew. Talk about a formidable organization to battle, HYDRA and SPECTRE have nothing on the Treasury Department.

First, this amusing page from the Warren black & white reprint series. From THE SPIRIT# 4, October 1974, Will Eisner interviews Commissioner Dolan with results that leave them both fuming. The Spirit's origin of course has him seemingly killed by a Mad Science serum that actually only put him in suspended animation. (I've sometimes wondered if the effects of this serum explain how the Spirit can bounce back so cheerfully from the dozens of beating and gunshots he survives over the following decade.) It's melodramatic enough, the idea that Denny Colt revives later and digs his way out of his coffin. But, as Eisner hints, there are problems with it. For one thing, a death like that would require an autopsy (which would REALLY make it difficult for Colt to wake up later). Even without an autopsy being peformed, just having his blood replaced by embalming fluid would be inconvenient.

creator: will eisner, char: the spirit
[identity profile]
At his blog FATE OF THE ARTIST, the great Eddie Campbell has posted a sampling of some scans from the Army, ahem, maintenance publication PS MONTHLY, which was Will Eisner's creation, and which had, as part of its purpose, training re: VD. All I can say is that Ellen, who the girl in the pages resembles, was certainly a bit of a hussy in wartime. (The entire archive from which he got it is here)
[identity profile]
Every now and then, I'd like to do a little gallery of splash pages from THE SPIRIT. The strip appeared as an insert in syndicated newspapers (and as such, the Spirit had an astonishing circulation; many thousands who never picked up a comic book read THE SPIRIT every week). This impromptu selection leaves out several of the types of stories Will Eisner did so well. There were his satires on advertising and consumerism and current fads; there were his whimsical fantasy or science-fiction romps, his tough gangster sagas and locked-room mysteries; the little misadventures that Ebony or Sammy went off on their own; and so many that are hard to classify. You just never knew what you would find when you opened your Sunday paper.

It flummoxes me how heartbreakingly good Sunday comics used to be. From the 1930s to around 1960, you might pick up a paper that had THE SPIRIT, POPEYE, PRINCE VALIANT, TERRY AND THE PIRATES, POGO, MANDRAKE THE MAGICIAN, GASOLINE ALLEY, KRAZY KAT... Then the size of the pages started to shrink faster and faster, the quality of the printing and coloring dropped, the era of high adventure and screwball humor faded away.

[identity profile]
Eight Three pages from The Spirit Archives Volume 4, which is hundreds of pages long.

"A Dull Week" doesn't contain fun guest stars like Silk Satin or Sand Saref, but it does show Eisner's firm grasp on the form. All the storytelling elements he loved to play with are in fine form here, showing the comedic possibilities of the ensemble cast.

[identity profile]
This is from one of those massive hardcover archives, which are hundreds of pages, so hopefully it's okay.

Think of Silk Satin as an early version of Catwoman. She and the Spirit have the same kind of quasi-love affair, hampered by the fact that they're not on the same side of law and order. Although Satin later reformed and became an intelligence agent in WW2, Spirit was firmly (well, not firmly) with Ellen Dolan by then, so things never worked out. And in Darwyn Cooke's reboot, she's just an intelligence agent. That, coupled with Ellen Dolan being The Girl of the title, makes her a much flatter character than Eisner's version, IMHO. But hey, don't take my word for it, have some scans.

[identity profile]

Am I the only one who feels increasingly uncomfortable with Will Eisner's later work? THE SPIRIT ended in 1952, but of course Eisner went on to create a lot more. A CONTRACT WITH GOD, LIFE ON ANOTHER PLANET, THE DREAMER, much more. I've read some of this material and the writing is excellent in every way, but the art bothers me. Everyone seems to be in so much pain. Faces are sagging, mouths puckered in grief, bodies seem ready to break under their own weight. There is a lot of unnecessary drool and faces covered with what seems too thick to be just sweat, as if the people are starting to fall apart. Maybe the necessity of featuring the conventional figure of the Spirit (and his cast) in earlier stories meant Eisner was required to tone this trait down. There's a lot of suffering (both physical and emtional) in the Spirit stories but having a continuing character meant there had to be some healing and recovery, as well. The frequent whimsy and playfulness seemed to vanish with the Spirit.

[identity profile]
Hey there. I'll still be posting here frequently, but I want to spend most of my time working on my own Retro-Scans, posting about pulps, old movies, various esoterica. Still, here's something about a TV-movie some of you may not have seen.

Quite a disappointment when I first saw it, this 1987 pilot looks better in retrospect, particularly after Frank Miller's recent theatrical feature. I couldn't talk myself into going to the mall to check out Miller's film. Maybe it deserved a fair chance -- I've always said not to judge a movie until you're on the way home from seeing it -- but it just looked so WRONG. And this means we're not likely to ever see a well-done new movie about the character. He's not like Superman or James Bond, who will always get another shot after a cinematic disaster.

a shadowy encounter in Dolan's office )

The 1987 SPIRIT was the pilot for a never-produced TV series based on Will Eisner' classic comic strip. As far as I can tell, it only aired once on an ABC late-night showing and isn't available on DVD, or at least I haven't seen it as such.. you'd think it would have been hustled out to store while Miller's version was in theatres. The TV-movie is frustrating in that it gets some much right, but presents it poorly. The casting is fine. Sam Jones was a big likeable goof we all remember from 1980's FLASH GORDON, not an actor that Turner Classic Movies is considering doing a month-long festival for, but competent enough and certainly visually right. Nana Visitor does well as Ellen Dolan; her fans from DEEP SPACE NINE might want to see this to check out her hot tub scene without a rubber snout. The actor playing Commissioner Dolan is fine, but P'Gell is portrayed as a bit too hardened and weathered to match my image. Then there's Eubie, a young black kid who takes the Spirit under his wing as much as the other way around. I'm sorry, he's not Ebony and there's really no justification for him here. As outlandish as Ebony was drawn and as exaggerated as his dialogue was, he was a young kid with heart. He cared for his friends, he had dreams and hopes and a wry sense of humor. If you can get past his appearance, Ebony was a great character. Eubie here is okay, but not the same character at all.

beefcake in tatters, tied up by a femme fatale.. yep, that's the Spirit all right )

I've figured out one of the things that I dislike about the flurry of super-hero TV-movies from the 1970s and 1980's.. they were nearly all filmed in Los Angeles, and comic book heroes mostly look naturally in New York City environment. The bright, almost oppressive sunlight exposes too much, takes away the mystery. Even scenes shot at night (or supposedly so) just don't have the same ambience. There are some nicely done sequences; Denny Colt lurching up all bullet-ridden from his supposed death looks all right, but mostly the colors are garish and unrealistic, the Wildwood Cemetery is so obviously a tiny set that it looks like a home video, and the main mystery is so unexciting that it's already fading from memory. Seeing the hero and villain fall into a giant cake will give an idea of the subtle approach used here.The best part is a brief montage when the Spirit first launches his crusade, punching out crooks to a snappy theme song that inexplicably throws in a few Van Halen-type riffs. Maybe if this had been sold as a series, some of the plots and themes of the Eisner stories would have been used, but as it stands, this is pretty much a disappointing misfire. Still, I'd buy a copy of it to replace my word-out faded VHS tape way before I'd put down money to try Frank Miller's version.

And for some comparison, a typically great Will Eisner page.. moody, atmospheric, well laid out and executed.

Black Alley )
[identity profile]
So, a quick refresher for those of you who weren't reading comics in the 1940s. The Spirit is the Spirit. Commissioner Dolan is his contact in the police force. Ellen Dolan is his daughter and the Spirit's girlfriend. However, as Everyone Is Straight For The Spirit, Ellen is frequently on the wrong end of a love triangle.

Also, bondage. )
[identity profile]
So we all know Samuel L. Jackson's Octopus was pretty gonzo. But he was not the lamest villain the Spirit's ever fought. Cooter was. In fact, Cooter might be the lamest villain ever to appear in any comic book. I guess not even Eisner can knock them all out of the park. So who was Cooter?

Warning: The racist caricatures of Ebony White and his supporting cast figure prominently into this story.

But it's---it's not a rock! )


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