Wednesday, 31 December 2014


Was it really so long ago?  Sadly, yes.  It was October of 1985
and comics legend WILL EISNER was guest of honour at a convention
in Glasgow - I think at the Central Hotel in the train station, but I could be
wrong on that one.  One of the organisers, JOHN McSHANE, introduced me
to Will and his wife, and I and another fellow (Rab Thompson, I think) sat in
their company enjoying a wee drinkie or two.  Will kindly bought me a COKE,
and we chatted about various comicbook-related matters for half an hour or
so, maybe longer.  I ventured to ask what was wrong with JACK KIRBY,
given his increasingly critical attitude towards STAN LEE at the time.
Will shook his head.  "I just don't know what's eatin' him - it's kinda
sad!" he said, giving every indication that he viewed Jack's
increasingly bizarre rants as something of a mystery.

Deciding that I didn't want to monopolise his time, I took
my leave, but not before politely asking him to sign my copy of his
book that you see above.  Below is the inscription he graciously wrote
on the flyleaf before I thanked him and his wife for their kind indulgence
and departed to experience the various other attractions of the convention.
Whenever I look at the book, I seem once more to be in my bedroom in the
house where I then lived, 'though my family were there for less than another
two years before we moved yet again.  Funny how some associations are so
strong that, even 'though the book has been in my current house for over
27 years, it yet seems to belong to another time, another place, than those
in which it's spent most of its existence.  Looking back, I'm reminded
that our German Shepard dog, TARA, only had another eight
months left of her eleven and a half years' span.

Incidentally, the book is still in pristine condition - those ripples
you can see on the cover and photo of Will belong to the clear protec-
tive sleeve, not the dustjacket itself.  I've met a few legends in my time,
and it's nice to have tangible reminders of not only when I briefly rubbed
shoulders with the greats, but also of other fondly-recalled places and
'players' from a particular period in the passing parade that people
call life.  (Phew!  That's positively profound!)


John Pitt said...

I have never read any " Spirits ". I guessed it would kind of be like a copy of the Shadow. I really must give it a try sometime.

Kid said...

Same here, JP. I first saw him in The Penguin Book of Comics. Got a couple of his mags, but don't remember reading them.

Marionette said...

Will also signed my copy of Comics & Sequential Art - far from pristine even then because I often used it for reference in my work.

You are really missing out not reading The Spirit; particularly the postwar episodes are fantastically playful, pushing the limits of visual storytelling. I'd consider The Spirit one of the basic primers for anyone wanting to learn how to draw comics. Or Rob Liefeld.

Kid said...

Hi, M. Y'know, I probably have read some, but not that many. They look great (as I said, I've got at least a couple of mags), but I don't recall being blown away by the stories. Perhaps I was expecting too much from them after what I'd read in the Penguin Book of Comics. Regarding Will's book, I didn't find it as inspiring as How to Draw Comics the Marvel Way, to be honest. Looked kind of old-fashioned to me, even back in 1985.

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