Images © Harry N. Abrams, Inc.
This is another nice book gifted to attendees at the Harvey Awards this year. Abrams is an art book publisher, and under the guidance of Charlie Kochman, their Abrams Comicarts imprint has been putting out lots of interesting books in the past few years. This small hardcover is one of them.
Between the end of THE SPIRIT SECTION, Eisner’s Sunday newspaper insert and the beginning of his very personal graphic novels that started with A CONTRACT WITH GOD, Eisner was largely out of the standard comics business and doing educational comics. His biggest contract was with the U.S. Army producing PS MAGAZINE, a small monthly pamphlet, about digest size, that was distributed throughout the Army and was intended to help soldiers correctly care for and maintain their equipment. It sounds dry, but Eisner made it a lot more fun by doing some of each booklet in comics form, with regular characters like Joe Dope and Sgt. Half-Mast.
When he introduced the blonde bombshell Connie Rodd, I bet he really got the soldiers’ attention. She’s much like some of the femme fatales in THE SPIRIT, though perhaps a bit more wholesome (usually). The instructional story on the art of tightening bolts, which the page above is from, is a good example of how a little sex can make almost anything interesting.
I enjoyed looking through the book, and there’s lots of great art in it, though the first few years have the best of it, but the subject matter doesn’t interest me enough to read much of the content. The comics-style stories are the best, and some are close to THE SPIRIT in feel, but there are lots of other articles that are drier and less interesting.
If you’re a Will Eisner fan, this is something you might want to add to your library. Eddie Campbell has made the choices for this “best of” compilation, and most of them are worth a look, at least for the art. On that basis, it’s recommended.