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Paul E. Fitzgerald – RIP

Journalist and civil servant Paul E. Fitzgerald has passed away.


Paul Edward (Fitz) Fitzgerald
November 26, 1926 – December 3, 2020

 

From the obituary:

He entered the US Army as an enlisted man during WW2, serving as a heavy weapons crewman. After completing Officer Candidate School, he was commissioned as a 2nd Lieutenant in charge of troop trains within the US.

Upon discharge, he went to Journalism School at West Virginia University. While at WVU, he worked as editor of the state newspaper for the IWW.

After journalism school, Paul and [wife] Lee became managing editor and news editor, respectively, of the newspaper in Elkton, Maryland, The Cecil Whig.

Paul and Lee moved to Botetourt County, Virginia, in 1963, to become shareholders of the publishing group for three community newspapers, The Fincastle Herald, The Vinton Messenger, and The New Castle Record. For a time, they also published The Staunton Mirror.

After selling their newspaper interests in 1984, Paul became a public relations consultant for churches in the Washington, D.C. area.

He went to the FDA, the Food and Drug Administration, and was then recruited by the US Drug Enforcement Administration, where he served from 1986 until his retirement in 1994 as Chief of Communication Services, which included Congressional Liaison. In that role, he served as a lecturer and instructor in crisis management at the FBI Academy, at Quantico.

In the midst of all that is the reason he is being noted here.

From the obit:

He took a post as the first managing editor of PS Magazine, a publication of the US Army. It was a hip pocket sized, cartoon style magazine about equipment maintenance, with a focus on preventive maintenance. There, he met Will Eisner, who served as the magazine’s creative and production contractor. Eisner is known as the creator of “The Spirit” comic strip, the “Contract with God” trilogy, and his work with sequential art led to his recognition as “a grandfather of the graphic novel.” The Will Eisner Comic Industry Awards, known as the Eisner Awards, are the comic industry’s equivalent of the Academy Awards, and are given annually at the San Diego Comic-Con. Fitzgerald wrote an extensive book on the art and collaboration, “Will Eisner and PS Magazine,” which was itself nominated for the Eisner Award in 2010. While working for PS Magazine, he was trained and certified as a guided missiles ordinance officer.

 

Fitz was managing editor of PS Magazine from 1953 to 1963.

From a Fitzgerald profile:

When he became PS Magazine’s first managing editor (1953-1963) he had been a printer, soldier, fireman, coal miner, reporter, and newspaper managing editor.

It was the printer part that provided a common ground for the West Virginia ridge-runner and Eisner, the street-smart New York artist, to build an alliance of mutual professional respect and friendship. It continued more than 50 years until Eisner’s death in 2005. They both had been printer’s devils (beginners), they knew the details of the graphic arts production processes and the physical realities involved, they understood deadlines, and they understood costs. The magazine’s production problems in those early years sprang from neglected details, and the two together knew how to address them.

Fitz in an Alaskan winter as seen by Eisner.

He and Joe Kubert ran a blog in 2011 honoring the magazine’s 60th anniversary. Fitz earlier had written a book about Will Eisner and PS Magazine.

The author, Paul E. Fitzgerald, was the magazine’s first managing editor. He weaves together two parallel stories—Eisner as an artist in expansive change, and the U.S. Army’s daringly innovative publication that moved from early perilous survival and bureaucratic brinkmanship to 58 years (and still going) as a sweepingly successful communications pacesetter.

The author’s knowledge of PS operations and challenges, production techniques, and personalities, coupled with his ongoing personal and professional friendship with Eisner from 1953 until the artist’s death in 2005, provides a unique and close-up look at the “middle period” of Eisner’s creative life

A life well lived. Rest in peace.

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