Monday, January 31, 2005

William Messner-Loebs benefit 

Thanks to an article in The Detroit News, the industry has noticed what a rough time Bill Loebs has been having. Bill, for those who don't know him, was the writer-artist of JOURNEY, a funny, exciting and thoughtful comic set on the Michigan frontier around the war of 1812. Bill also was widely acclaimed for his fine runs as writer on mainstream comics like Wonder Woman, The Flash, and Jonny Quest. I was lucky enough to collaborate with him on my first mainstream assignment, Hawkman, and I can't say enough about how much I liked him and the stories he told.

The guys here at Mercury Studios all feel awful about what's happened to Bill, and we're putting some art and books up for auction on ebay to raise a little money for him until the industry notices that he's out there- a top talent, ready, willing and able to provide first-rate work.

The auctions are here. Every dime we raise will go straight to Bill. Take a look. There are original pages from Hawkman and Detective by me, and great Wonder Woman page from Drew, a rare piece of my in-house art from Hawkman, and a copy of The Interman, signed and sketched by Jeff Parker. More stuff coming soon!

Friday, January 14, 2005

In the meanwhile 

Going to let the further Eisner thoughts stew for a bit. Everyone's read enough for a while now, anyhow.

In the meantime, here's some Mercury-ish links:
Over at Parkerspace, Jeff reports on Mercury's Day of the Dude.

Small Beer Press has brought out a new issue of Lady Churchhill's Rosebud Wristlet, their highly regarded literary zine. It's edited by Kelly Link and Gavin Grant, who rule. The covers are my fault. Read about it here.

Small Beer also published Family Reunion, which got a couple of nice notices recently. Jim Henley named it one of his Best of 2004, and Ginger Meyerson at Sequential Tart gave it a very kind review. Sean Stewart, who wrote it, is featured in a terrific interview here. Here's a sample quote from Sean, on the uses of fantasy:

"ask yourself which makes a better scene: Hamlet lying on his therapist's couch saying, "I feel conflicted about my mother's new relationship" -- or Hamlet on the battlements, unstrung at the feet of a father fresh-breathed up from the cracks of Hell?"

Tuesday, January 04, 2005

Visiting Dropsie. 

"All day the rain poured down on the bronx without mercy."

It's clear and sunny here in Portland, and that doesn't seem right. I want the sort of brutal rain that Will Eisner used in the opening of "A Contract With God." I was about 19 when I first read it. I don't remember where I was, but I definitely recall the dual impact it had on me. I was both enthralled and repelledI was repelled, and, analytical reader that I was, I wanted to understand what was going on. The gestures were so broad, so theatrical, it was sort of off-putting. He was, though I didn't know the phrase at the time, "playing to the back row." At the same time, it seemed right and appropriate for these people.

It started to sink in. "These people" are my people. It's not like I didn't know I was Jewish, but that crowded tenement world was a long way from the 3 bedroom house I grew up in. Sure, I'd read one of Sam Levenson's books and parts of Irving Howe's World of Our Fathers. A bit of I.B. Singer, but that world was largely lost to me, wasn't it? Still, I thought, I might know the people Eisner was depicting. I thought of my grandmother's histrionics, and the way my father seemed to wait until everyone was listening before he muttered something to himself, and my sister's odd tendency to sort of act out her words as she spoke them. I could see more than a bit of my own family in these unhappy stories about small, struggling people.

No wonder I was repelled. I was reading stories about my own goddamn family and things weren't turning out too well for them. It's one thing to contemplate that in the real world, but at the time, I still approached comics as a convenient way to escape the people in my life. This book was making me think about them as actual human beings.

I've got a deadline. More later.
-Steve Lieber

Thanks for Everything(literally) 

The greatest of our number is gone as of yesterday. Will Eisner's name comes up all the time in our studio, and every time one of us thinks we've come up with some cool new way to handle storytelling, we always find that Will already did it 40 years ago. I've posted some memories over at Mystifying Oracle, and I bet other Mercury members will have some things to say here during the day.

---Jeff Parker

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