Comics / Comics News

Will Eisner eNewsletter #30: Interview Series Starts With Howard Chaykin!

By The Editor
June 16, 2006 - 14:03

Howard Chaykin, Mike Richardson, Drew Friedman
and more talk frankly about comic legend in new blog,
“Will Eisner: A Spirited Life Interview Series”
M Press/Dark Horse Comics is pleased to announce an online extension of Bob Andelman’s critically acclaimed new biography _Will Eisner: A
Spirited Life_. In the weblog “Interview Series,” which debuted on June 12 at, Andelman will publish a new Q&A interview with comics artists, writers and publishers with all-new stories to tell about legendary artist and writer Will Eisner.

The series began this Monday, June 12, with a controversial uppercut from artist Howard Chaykin (_American Flagg, Blackhawk_), who reveals himself as something less than a fan of Will Eisner the man. In fact, Chaykin says he nearly came to blows with Eisner at a comic book convention in Barcelona after Eisner implied that Chaykin was “fascistic.”

“I offered Joe Kubert $10 to kick his ass,” Chaykin said,
“and Kubert said that for $20 he would think about it.”
Here is a look at the starting lineup for “Will Eisner: A Spirited
Life Interview Series”:
€ JUNE 12    HOWARD CHAYKIN, artist, nearly comes to blows with Will
€ JUNE 19    MIKE RICHARDSON, president of Dark Horse Comics, recalls
the influence Eisner had on him as a writer and businessman
€ JUNE 26    DREW FRIEDMAN, artist and former Eisner student, takes
strong issue with Eisner’s stories about him and his father, novelist Bruce Jay Friedman, in A Spirited Life
€ JULY 3       ABE FOXMAN, executive director of the Anti-Defamation
League, describes efforts to distribute Eisner’s final graphic
novel, _The Plot: The Secret Story of The Protocols of the Elders of Zion_
in Arabic language newspapers in the Middle East
€ JULY 10     DENIS KITCHEN, Eisner’s agent and friend, updates a
host of new and in-process Eisner projects from print to film and radio
€ JULY 17     PETE POPLASKI, illustrator and former art director at
Kitchen Sink Press, describes his work finishing Eisner’s final
instructional book and recalls his earlier experiences with Eisner
€ JULY 24     TED CABARGA, former production director for Eisner’s
American Visuals company, describes working for Eisner on PS magazine from 1959-73 and how Eisner changed after the death of his daughter
€ JULY 31      SCOTT & BO HAMPTON, brothers and artists, recall apprenticing for Eisner in the mid-1970s while Eisner completed his landmark graphic novel, A Contract With God
Additional interviews are in the works as well.
“A chance meeting with Howard Chaykin in February put the
Interview Series’ in motion,” biographer Bob Andelman explained. “Even after almost three years of conducting interviews and reporting for the biography, I keep finding more and more people with interesting stories to tell or conflicting points of view on Will Eisner. In print, the book is done, but on the Web, there’s no reason the man’s life story can’t continue to be told. And I think people who already read the book will be surprised that not everyone interviewed for this new series is a fan of Will’s, although many are.”

Here are some early reviews of “Will Eisner: A Spirited Life
Interview Series”:
WARREN ELLIS “Howard Chaykin talks to Eisner’s biographer Bob Andelman about his experience and perceptions of Eisner. This is fascinating, not least for the side issues that leak out, including the real genesis of A CONTRACT WITH GOD.”

TONY ISABELLA _via email_: “I just read the Chaykin interview. Damn! That was hot stuff! You should write books about everybody in the comics industry! I suggest you start with the letter "I". I'm looking
forward to reading the rest of these interviews.”

“The author Bob Andelman has launched a weekly blog featuring interviews done in conjunction with or in response to his 2005 Will Eisner
biographer A Spirited Life. This makes him likely the most dedicated comics figure biographer ever, and perhaps the bravest. Howard Chaykin is in good form here.”
N.C. CHRISTOPHER COUCH _via email_: “The interview with Chaykin is
fascinating. When comic artist egos meet, sparks can fly.”
“Interview blogs: wave of the future? I don’t know, but
there’s now a new one up to join the recently-launched Graphic
Language, though this one’s got a much more constrained focus - Bob
Andelman’s Will Eisner: A Spirited Life Interview Series, a weekly
blog devoted to augmenting Andelman’s print-format anecdotal
biography of the late comics pioneer, WILL EISNER: A SPIRITED LIFE. It
looks like a number of gaps in the print book will be filled by this
online project; I can't wait for the talk with Drew Friedman, whom Eisner
claimed to have thrown out of a comics class he taught.”
“Building on his book, WILL EISNER: A SPIRITED LIFE, author Bob
Andelman has created a new blog for a series of interviews about Eisner.
His first conversation is with one of my favorite creators, Howard
Chaykin. It's worth a read just for the opening story about Eisner, Chaykin, Joe Kubert and the genesis for continuing Andelman's book as a
series of on-line interviews... It's also not every day that you read
about fascist art in an interview about comic book art.”
In recent months, Andelman has made well-received presentations about Eisner at the International Comic Arts Festival at the Library of Congress in Washington, DC, the St. Petersburg Times Festival of Reading, the Cartoon Art Museum in San Francisco, the Ringling School of Art & Design in Sarasota, Florida, and the Milwaukee Art Museum.
“Will Eisner: A Spirited Life” features an introduction by Pulitzer Prize winner Michael Chabon (The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier
& Clay) and an appreciation by master comics artist Neal Adams. In his
review of the book, the Miami Herald’s Richard Pachter called it
“... entertaining and enlightening, capturing Will's extraordinary character and dignified presence quite nicely.”And in his five-star
review, Tony Isabella of the Comics Buyers Guide said A Spirited Life is
“a must-have item for any serious devotee of the comics art
form.” The book was a finalist for the 2005 British Eagle Awards. Wil Moss of Nashville’s City Paper wrote, “The book is packed with great stories from Eisner’s comic strip peers in the ‘40s and ‘50s up to his comic book peers of today.”


€ Will Eisner’s work figures prominently in the “MASTERS OF AMERICAN COMICS” exhibition on display at the Milwaukee Art Museum now through August 13, 2006. This is the only stop for “Masters” where you can see the entire exhibition under one roof and it is awesome. Most amazing of all the works – besides the many Eisner pages, of course – are probably the many Winsor McCay pages from “Little Nemo in Slumberland.” If you’ve only seen small reproductions of McCay’s art, you’re in for a real treat. And while you’re in Milwaukee, take in a Brewers game at beautiful Miller Park. The Brewers are a major sponsor of “Masters,” incidentally.

€ And if you’re in Amherst, Massachusetts between now and July 31,
2006, consider taking in another Eisner-related exhibition, “PULP
Bois Library (Main Floor). The show is curated by N.C. Christopher Couch,
co-author of the recently published “Will Eisner Companion.” Couch will be featured in a reception and gallery talk on June 21, 2006, at 4 p.m.

Here’s a description of the show:

“The Plot: The Secret Story of the Protocols of the Elders of
Zion” (2005) was the last graphic novel created by Will Eisner
(1917-2005), “the father of the graphic novel,” a comic
creator whose work influenced artists and writers around the world.
Eisner’s book tells the story of an infamous anti-semitic forgery
created by the secret service of the Russian Czar Nicholas II, which
spread around the world after the Russian Revolution of 1918 and became a
key element in Nazi propaganda. This forgery, purported minutes of a
secret meeting of Jewish conspirators planning world domination, is in
reality a plagiarized text taken primarily from a variety of satires,
novels and other fictional works.

Although the forgery has been exposed over and over – starting with an
expose in the London Times in 1921, through a trial in Berne, Switzerland, in 1934-1935, and an investigation by the U.S. Senate in 1964—Eisner became concerned because of the renewed circulation of the Protocols on the Internet, among extremist groups, and in the Middle East. He decided to use his own medium to tell the story in a way that anyone could understand, combating racist fiction with fact—using the graphic novel.

This exhibition, curated by N. C. Christopher Couch of the Department of
Comparative Literature UMass Amherst, features Eisner’s “The Plot” and other works that expose the forgery of The Protocols. Eisner is one of a line of courageous scholars, journalists, jurists, and filmmakers who’ve employed their own media to oppose racism and hate. The exhibition includes books exposing the Protocols from 1921 to today, as well as posters and other materials, plus displays tracing Eisner’s career as a graphic novelist, including first and rare editions, and Eisner’s visits to the UMass Amherst campus.

A talk on the exhibit by Professor Couch and a reception will be held on
June 21, 2006, at 4 PM on the Main Floor of the W.E.B. Du Bois Library. It
is free and open to the public.

€ “WILL EISNER’S NEW YORK,” the next collection of Eisner’s graphic novels from W.W. Norton, will be out soon. It features a great cover of the artist standing still on a street corner, sketching life as it goes by him. There is also a wonderful introduction by Neil Gaiman and an editor’s note by Denis Kitchen. With more than 400 pages of art and story – including several never-before-published illustrations sketched by Eisner and finished by Pete Poplaski – it’s a must for any collector’s bookshelf.
€ If you loved “Will Eisner: A Spirited Life,” YOU’LL LOVE THE STUFF FOR SALE AT OUR NEW CAFEPRESS SITE:
 ABOUT WILL EISNER: Pop culture would never have been the same without Will Eisner. Internationally recognized as the founding father of an utterly American medium—comic books—Eisner pioneered this art
form in the late 1930s, and continued to shape its direction until his
passing at 87 in 2005. This personality-driven biography, written by Bob
Andelman, explores the fascinating life of Eisner and details a career
that stretched over 70 years. Eisner spearheaded the cause of comics for adult readers (including 30 years spent producing comics for the U.S. Army and corporate clients such as General Motors and the United Nations) and in 1978 published the first widely recognized graphic novel, A Contract With God.
Eisner trained some of the world’s greatest comic art talent: Bob Kane (Batman); Jack Kirby (Fantastic Four); Jules Feiffer; Dave Berg
(Mad); and Joe Kubert (Tarzan). Eisner also inspired generations of
modern artists and writers, including Frank Miller (Sin City), Robert
Crumb, Harlan Ellison, Neil Gaiman (Sandman, American Gods), Dave
Gibbons (Watchmen) Brad Bird (The Incredibles), Patrick McDonnell
(Mutts) and Art Spiegelman (Maus).

“The Spirit,” Eisner’s most famous comics character is
in pre-production as a major motion picture from Batman Begins producer Michael Uslan. And the Spirit will join the DC Comics Universe in December in an ongoing monthly title that will bring the character into the realm of Batman and Superman for the first time. The “Oscars” of the
comic book world are the “Will Eisner Comic Industry Awards,” have been given annually at San Diego’s Comic-Con International since 1987.

ABOUT BOB ANDELMAN: Bob Andelman is the author or co-author of nine
books, including three with sports themes - “Stadium For Rent,” “Why Men Watch Football” and “The Corporate Athlete.” He also is the co-author of three bestselling business management books, including “The Profit Zone” (with Adrian Slywotzky), “Built from Scratch”(with Home Depot co-founders Bernie Marcus and Arthur Blank) and “Mean Business” (with notorious corporate turnaround specialist “Chainsaw” Al Dunlap). Andelman has lived in the Tampa Bay area since 1982. He has a bachelor’s degree in film studies with a minor in American literature from the University of Florida. He and his wife, Mimi, an editor at the St. Petersburg Times, have been married since 1988 and have a 9-year-old daughter.

Last Updated: August 31, 2023 - 08:12

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