by Nicky Wheeler-Nicholson
One of my favorite events at New York Comic Con was the Thursday night tribute and presentation to Irwin Hasen, 96 years old. Irwin has been drawing comics since 1940 beginning at Harry A. Chesler’s shop and then going on to DC drawing The Green Hornet, The Flash, Wonder Woman, the Green Lantern and creating Wildcat. Irwin then went on to co-create the long-running newspaper strip Dondi. Irwin is much loved and revered in the comics community and it was a poignant moment for all of us there to see him honored.
Danny Fingeroth, comics scholar and editor at Marvel for many years was the emcee. Danny has written a number of how to books on comics as well as Superman on the Couch and Disguised as Clark Kent. Danny often presides over panels about comic book history and provides a solid background in the subject as well as a relaxed and fun atmosphere.
Paul Levitz was at DC for over 35 years and president there from 2002-2009. He’s considered by everyone in the industry to be a super comics scholar and he wrote 75 Years of DC. Paul spoke of Irwin’s accomplishments over the years and gave us a historical overview. Danny introduced Paul with the point that 75 Years of DC is a hernia-inducing book. It is a tome and one that is well written and leaves no stone unturned. You can see what kind of evening this was. There was no way this was going to be some solemn occasion with the constant kibitzing back and forth from Irwin to each of the panelists and the moderator and the audience erupting in frequent laughter.
Dan Makara, a filmmaker who has produced a documentary of Irwin’s life, Irwin, a New York Story talked about why he decided to do the film and gave us some idea of how he worked with Irwin.
Michael Uslan, the producer of all the Batman movies and a writer of many comic book projects from Archie to Doc Savage spoke about Irwin’s accomplishments in comics and then presented the award to Irwin.
Irwin was visibly moved and pleased to receive the Eisner and it was terrific to see someone of his age and length of time in comics able to enjoy this special moment.
The film was shown immediately after. Dan Makara has done a terrific job using fun ways of telling the story with animation and cartoons as well as the traditional voiceover and talking heads of the typical documentary. The ending is quite wonderful and I’m not going to give it away because you should see this tribute to Irwin for yourself wherever it’s shown.