Comics-Con International (Comic-Con San Diego) has announced the six judges’ choice inductees into the Will Eisner Hall of Fame and 17 nominees of which four will be selected by voters.
The automatic inductees are Marie Duval, Rose O’Neill, Max Gaines, Alex Nino, P. Craig Russell, and Mark Gruenwald.
As is our wont here at The Daily Cartoonist we will concentrate on the old-timers and those connected with newspapers and comic strips.
Those old-timers are referred to as Pioneers by The Eisners.
MARIE DUVAL (neé Isabelle Émilie de Tessier)
Her work first appeared in a variety of the cheap British penny papers and comics of the 1860s – 1880s.
Between March 1869 and July 1885, Duval drew hundreds of comic strip pages and vignettes for the magazine Judy or the London serio-comic journal and spin-off compilations…
Her masterstroke was the development of the character Ally Sloper, a ne’er-do-well London ‘everyman’, resulting in dozens of strips that were collected into books. Under her influence, Sloper was to become the comedy icon of his age.
In the late 1800s, London was swept up in the new craze of visual, satirical journalism. When Judy magazine, a twopenny serio-comic, debuted a red-nosed, lanky schemer named Ally Sloper who represented the poor working class of 19th-century England, it was one of the first recurring characters in comic history.
But credit for that character has long gone to the wrong person. Two people were responsible for Ally Sloper—and one of the creators has only recently been rediscovered by academics and comic fans.
Wearing a shabby stovepipe hat and carrying a rickety umbrella, the iconic and popular cartoon is often credited to Charles H. Ross, a playwright, cartoonist, and eventual editor of Judy. However, Ally Sloper was actually illustrated and developed by two artists: Ross and his wife, actress-turned-cartoonist Marie Duval—who was responsible for the bulk of the Ally Sloper comics.
At the age of nineteen, O’Neill moved from Nebraska to New York City where she hoped her illustration career would flourish.
While living in a convent, O’Neill recalled the nuns would accompany her to meet with newspaper and magazine editors. Her work was soon published in the pages of Truth, Life, Harper’s Bazaar, Cosmopolitan, Good Housekeeping, and other magazines. A comic strip O’Neill wrote titled “The Old Subscriber Calls” was printed in the September 19, 1896 issue of Truth, which was remarkable in that it was the first published comic strip created by a woman.Her cartoons became so popular that she was asked to join the staff of Puck, where she was the only woman working from 1897 to 1903.
O’Neill’s Kewpies made their first appearance as character drawings in a women’s magazine in December 1909. Kewpies were fanciful, elf-like babies with a top-knot head, a wide smile, and sidelong eyes. They were both impish and kind and solved all kinds of problems in humorous ways.
By 1914 O’Neill was the highest-paid female illustrator in America. Her income allowed her to support her family in Missouri and travel extensively in Europe. There she easily made friends with fellow artists and writers and hosted expensive parties. In this lively environment, O’Neill produced her serious art, much of which she labeled her “Sweet Monster” art.
Both Harry I. Wildenberg and M.C. Gaines have been credited (or took credit) for the inspiration for Famous Funnies, the first successful newsstand comic. In 1933 Eastern Color Printing Company had printed Famous Funnies; a carnival of comics with Dell as publisher also handling the distribution. Dell dropped out of the arrangement and Eastern Color resurrected the title as Famous Funnies, No. 1, in July 1934.
M.C. Gaines broke connections with Eastern Color and moved into a partnership with the McClure Syndicate to publish a one-shot giveaway called Skippy’s Own Book of Comics. By 1938 there were about a dozen comics of reprinted newspaper strips on the newsstands … The comic books were now an integral part of American life.
It was also in 1933, when he began devising the prototype of the comic book that, in subsequent years, became the standardized version in the comic book industry of America. During this initial phased e, Gaines worked an s a salesman for Eastern Color Printing, and through trial and error devised a better way to read comics. He contacted co-worker Harry Wallenberg and tried to devise a promotional tool to facilitate a better way to read comics, something that made the reader’s comprehension flow easily.
In 1934, the first real proof of Gaines and Wildenberg’s success arrived when Eastern Color printed about 500,00 copies of Skippy’s Book of Comics and distributed them free of charge as part of a radio program promotion. Wright submits that Gaines “suspected that comic books had market potential beyond these limited ventures”(3) and then persuaded Dell Publishing to print and finance 35,000 copies of Famous Funnies. This was a first series, first run comic strip collection that spanned sixty- four pages long, selling at ten cents per issue.
Niño’s use of ornaments, floral themes brought to a consistent conclusion and executed in thick ink lines as a logical outcome of calligraphic elements, reveal a vertiginous impression – especially when incorporated into his insanely laid-out pages.
The result is a surrealism propelled by an expressive linework and a coloring not reliant on naturalism.
Alex subsumed his surrealism when trying out for the Tarzan comic strip. The samples got him a job inking a few of Russ Mannings Sunday pages in the 1970s.
The nominees up for vote – Howard Chaykin, Gerry Conway, Kevin Eastman, Steve Englehart, Moto Hagio, Larry Hama, Jeffrey Catherine Jones, David Mazzucchelli, Jean-Claude Mézières, Grant Morrison, Gaspar Saladino, Jim Shooter, Garry Trudeau, Ron Turner, George Tuska, Mark Waid, and Cat Yronwode – also include a few who contributed to comic strips.
From Paul Kupperberg:
At one time, during the 1950s, George Tuska (April 26, 1916-Oct. 16, 2009) was the artist other artists wanted to draw like. And many did, aping his unique style and dynamic layouts…
George drew just about everything, from superheroes to horror to romance and Westerns and war. I don’t think he ever did any straight up humor comics, but he certainly wasn’t shy about injecting a little humor into his work.
Anyway, I liked Tuska, I know many didn’t, his stuff was cartoony and old school. I didn’t mind, he got the job done with enough aplomb, and characters had decent fights and there was good flow and motion in a Tuska book, especially when he was “on”.
One of Tuska’s signature cartooning tics, at least during the 60’s and 70’s, was to draw a lot of folks with big damned teeth. Especially any character who was supposed to be a maroon, or a sharpie, or a putz. But the big teeth could spread to regular folks and heroes alike, and it was memorable (obviously).
George Tuska spent years on comic booksand years on comic strips. He did the last five years of Scorchy Smith and then went eight years on Buck Rogers. From 1978 to 1982 Tuska kicked off The World’s Greatest Superheroes comic strip, and then in the late 1980s he “pitched in on [the Spider-Man comic strip] more than once.”
Carmine loved Gaspar’s work, and when he became DC’s Art Director in 1966 and soon the Editor-in-Chief, one of the changes he made was to gradually shift the premiere lettering assignments at the company: logo designs, cover lettering and house ads, from veteran letterer Ira Schnapp to Gaspar, who brought a new level of energy and excitement to that work…
In addition to plenty of DC work, Gaspar also found time to letter for MAD MAGAZINE, NATIONAL LAMPOON, the 1970s Atlas Comics (he designed all their logos) as well as quite a bit of work for Marvel Comics. When he lettered whole stories for Marvel, he often used the pen-name L.P. Gregory, but in the 1970s Gaspar was also the unaccredited “page one” letterer for much of the Marvel line. They hired Gaspar to make splash pages and story titles look their best.
Gaspar was the letterer on at least two comic strips – The Virtue of Vera Valiant (did he create the logo?) and the Superman comic strip of the 1980s.
Howard Chaykin was among the Young Creators who burst onto the comic book scene in the 1970s.
He dipped but never dove into commercial success, having had a hand in mainstream superhero work and even drawing the inaugural issues of Star Wars for Marvel.
Then everything changed for him in 1983, when he introduced his landmark series American Flagg!, a blistering social and political satire propelled by a sex-laden action-adventure, set in a barely recognizable yet eerily familiar United States.
Since then, Chaykin’s name has become synonymous with controversy for sharp, satiric narratives, often fueled by both violent sex and sex-drenched violence, in titles such as Black Kiss, Time², Power & Glory, American Century, and in the current series Hey Kids! Comics!, which mercilessly satirizes his own industry.
Early in his career Chaykin assisted on Wally Wood’s Overseas Weekly trilogy of comic strips: Sally Forth, Cannon, and actually drawing the Shattuck strip. In the mid-70s he pencilled a little of Friday Foster, then in the late 1970s he ghosted Star Hawks for Gil Kane who he had apprenticed for a decade earlier.
Gerard Francis Conway is an American writer of comic books and television shows. He is known for co-creating the Marvel Comics’ vigilante The Punisher and scripting the death of the character Gwen Stacy during his long run on The Amazing Spider-Man. At DC Comics, he is known for co-creating the superhero Firestorm and others, and for writing the Justice League of America for eight years. Conway also wrote the first major, modern-day intercompany crossover – Superman vs. the Amazing Spider-Man.
Gerry wrote the Star Trek comic strip in 1983 and The World’s Greatest Superheroes strip in 1991.
Kevin is the co-creator of the famous Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles that was repurposed for, among many other things, a comic strip. I don’t think Kevin has a hand in the comic strip (maybe supervisor?).
Jim was the plotter of The Amazing Spider-Man comic strip for Stan Lee after the first story in 1977.
Word on the street is Pulitzer Prize-winning, Reuben Award-winning cartoonist Garry Trudeau has had something to do with comic strips for over 50 years now.
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