by James A. Owen

On May 28, in association with the Association of Booksellers for Children (ABC) and The Denis Kitchen Art Agency, the Storyopolis Gallery and Bookstore hosted an Evening With The Works Of Will Eisner. Original art going back five decades was hung on every wall in the building, beginning with THE SPIRIT (complete stories, in sequence) and continuing through to his later graphic novel work such as LAST DAY IN VIETNAM.

My first exposure to Will Eisner was in THE SMITHSONIAN BOOK OF COMIC BOOK COMICS in 1982 (I know the date because it was a Christmas present, and it’s written on the flyleaf) and we met at San Diego four years later. In person, he was a remarkable torrent of history and creativity and story – but other than the one Eisner original I own (which he drew for my STARCHILD #0 book) I’d never seen his art up close.

The roughs from CITY PEOPLE were paired with the finished pieces, and showed his amazing thinking process; the color art from THE PRINCESS AND THE FROG showed his versatility; but it was the SPIRIT pages that blew away everyone in attendance. To see jet-black ink on pages a decade and a half older than I am was thrilling and humbling in equal measures.

Among those attending were Jackie Estrada, Batton Lash, Tone Rodriguez, Stan Sakai, Bill Morrison, Larry Marder, and Paul Levitz. An All-Star panel consisting of Jackie, Denis Kitchen, Sergio Aragones, and Mark Evanier reminisced about Will and the effect he had on all of them personally and professionally.

It was the only BEA-related event I attended in LA, and it was absolutely worth the trip.

Storyopolis owner Matthew Abrabowitz and Events Director Blake Harris have hinted that another exhibition of the Eisner work may be upcoming in another venue, so an update may follow. Attached are photos from the event: Denis Kitchen; James Owen and Stan Sakai; the Panel; and some of the SPIRIT pages.

1 COMMENT

  1. Hey! I was there too!

    I’m trying to figure out something: Was Galeb Shamus there or was that Tom Kenny from Spongebob Squarepants? Were they separated at birth?

    My personal highlights other than listening to the panelists were showing my new book around and chatting it up with Michael Uslan about the new Shadow pic he’s doing with Sam Raimi.

    ~

    Coat

  2. Is it just me or does Stan Sakai always look like the absolute happiest guy in the room in every single photo of him? Maybe one day if I ever make it to San Diego I’ll get to meet him.

  3. I absolutely LOVE James Owens work. I’ve been buying his material since Starchild #1 from his own Taliesin Press since waaaay back in 1992. I’ve even got first prints of #1 and 2.

    Anyone unfamiliar with his work should hurry on down to a bookstore and pick up his novel, Here There Be Dragons… and any of his comic work — if you’re lucky to find them.

    His writing is kind of a mix of Moore, Gaiman, Lewis Carroll and his art style must be seen to be believed. Think Totleben only better, if that’s possible.

    Thing is, his comics are so infrequent, they’ve never had the ability to develop the following it deserves. Last comic work by Owen was Mythopolis # 4 (of 14 parts) by Image in 1998 (yes, 10 years ago). A TPB was recently released of Mythopolis by Desperado publishing which basically was a reprint of the Mythopolis tale with tons of new material. A 96pp graphic novel for only $6.99! That came out in August of 2007 and here I am, still waiting for the finish of Mythopolis.

    Hope someday the conclusion sees the light of day.

  4. Thanks for the kind words, Brett.

    The next issue of MYTHOPOLIS should be on the stands shortly – I’m looking forward to seeing the conclusion myself!

  5. Very cool!

    Hope its soon!

    BTW, I know this article wasn’t James Owen based but after seeing the pic of Owen along with the post title, Storyopolis, it reminded me of Mythopolis and I just had to comment since, Ironically, I just finished rereading the entire Starchild run complete last month to refresh myself before reading the Mythopolis graphic novel.

    Which was wonderful.

  6. Seeing some Eisner originals hanging on the walls at MoCCA a few years ago was incredible enough for me — seeing that many of them at once must have been amazing!

  7. As Jackie said, there is nothing like seeing Will’s originals–not only his finished work, but some of his pencil roughs were framed alongside the final art. Just beautiful.

    Thanks for posting these James and Heidi.

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