We’re in the middle of Will Eisner Week 2018, and over the past several years The Comics Alternative has offered special episodes to celebrate the annual event. This year is no exception. On this episode, Derek is pleased to have back on the podcast Denis Kitchen, this time discussing his relationship with the comics legend, his history with him as a publisher and businessman, and his first-hand accounts of the various career moves Will Eisner experienced beginning in the 1970s. Along the way Denis talks with Derek about his first encounters with Eisner, how Kitchen Sink Comics helped to introduce The Spirit to a whole new generation, Eisner’s evolution as a graphic novelist, and his experiences in working with Eisner as both an editor and as an agent.
Every year for Will Eisner Week, always the first seven days in March, the Two Guys with PhDs like to do something special and Eisner-related for the podcast. This year is no different, and for the current episode Andy and Derek have decided to discuss the many uses of The Spirit since Will Eisner’s passing on January 3, 2005. And there are a lot more manifestations of The Spirit than you might think. The guys compare and contrast the various uses of this seminal crimefighter, highlighting those examples that attempt to capture the original tone of The Spirit, that deviate from the original in curious ways, and that cross over into other narrative worlds. The many titles and creators they discuss include:
and Joe Staton and Mike Curtis’s current Dick Tracy strip and its team-up with The Spirit (Tribune Company).
There is a lot packed into this episode — you’ll hear plenty about Ebony White, Commissioner and Ellen Dolan, Silk Satin, Mister Carrion, Sand Serif, The Octopus, and, of course, P’Gell — but, thankfully, almost no mention of the disastrous 2008 film. It’s all about the comics.
Check out the various The Spirit titles discussed in this special episode:
For Will Eisner Week 2016, Derek talks with Eisner’s authorized biographer, Bob Andelman. The second edition of his book, Will Eisner: A Spirited Life, was released last summer by TwoMorrows Publishing, expanding significantly on the 2005 edition in a deluxe, full-color volume. In the conversation, Bob discusses the genesis of the project and how he came to meet Eisner. He also shares several of his most memorable moments working with the legend, as well as some of the challenges in writing the biography. This recent deluxe edition, in particular, allowed him to expand his initial work and offer a more complete picture of the man. Derek talks with Bob about how the addition of brand new interviews, as well as archival material and legal documentation not available at the time of his first edition, rounds out the biography and makes Will Eisner more fully human and less of an abstracted icon. They also discuss the various stages of Eisner’s life and the different tones he struck in his comics, such as the autobiographical reflections found in To the Heart of the Storm, the sentimentality of Invisible People, the stark naturalism underlying Dropsie Avenue, the polemical turn of The Plot, and the innovative adventure that defined The Spirit newspaper inserts. All in all, you will find in this episode a spirited conversation — sorry for the predictable pun — with a writer and pop cultural critic that was a long time in coming.
On this special episode of The Comics Alternative, the Two Guys with PhDs wrap up Will Eisner Week by featuring a recording of an event that took place on Saturday, March 7, at Collected Comics and Games’s Keller location. The title of the panel was “The Relevance of Graphic Novels in Culture and Modern Education,” and speaking on it were Derek, Matthew Kolman of the Forth Worth Public Library, and Christopher Kilgore of the University of Texas at Arlington. All three shared their experiences using comics for educational purposes and discussed the many facets of their presentational potential. Along the way, they covered such issues as strategies for visual learning, labeling and categorization — e.g., how useful of a term is “graphic novel,” anyway? — comics and literacy, the presence of a de facto graphic novel canon, reader maturity and visual explicitness, the place of seriality and cartoon one-shots, and the various forms in which comics are published. The audience members asked a variety of challenging questions, and some even shared their own experiences as both readers and teachers of comics in the classroom. All in all, it was an engaging conversation, and one that truly participated in the spirit of Will Eisner Week.
On this special episode of The Comics Alternative, Andy and Derek kick off Will Eisner Week by having as their guests on the show Denis Kitchen and Michael Schumacher. Denis is an underground comix legend as well the force behind Kitchen Sink Press, and he was a close friend, business associate, and former publisher of Eisner. Michael is an author whose biography, Will Eisner: A Dreamer’s Life in Comics, was released by Bloomsbury in 2010. The Two Guys talk with them about the comics of Will Eisner, the artist’s impact and innovations, and the person behind the legend. They discuss with Denis his recollections of his relationship with Eisner, explore the impact of the underground comix movement on the artist’s career, and hear anecdotes about Eisner’s aesthetic philosophy and business practices. Derek and Andy also talk with Michael about his experiences researching Eisner, his papers, and former associates, and they learn about his efforts in chronicling Eisner’s life. The result is an engaging conversation that not only celebrates the artist, but also honors the man who was Will Eisner.