The very earliest comics by the great Will Eisner (The Spirit, A Contract with God, namesake of the prestigious Eisner Awards) have recently been discovered. We intend to publish these almost entirely never-before-seen strips from his teenage years in a definitive edition which will highlight the first origins of one of the forefathers of modern cartooning. And we can't do it without you.
No Longer Lost: The Getsinger Find
When the New Jersey artist and antique collector Joseph Getsinger acquired an enormous, 10,000-piece collection of 1930s-era cartoon printing plates, he had no idea what riches it contained -- just a hunch that there might be some diamonds in the rough. During his research, he became fascinated with two strips in particular: UNCLE OTTO by one "Carl Heck" and HARRY KARRY, credited to an unknown artist named "Willis B. Rensie."
As Joe began to investigate the provenance of this massive collection, he found that it was linked to Empire Features, a company that provided printing plates to various newspapers for syndication. Eisner & Iger Studios -- the partnership between the very young Jerry Iger and Will Eisner to distribute and publish their many fledgling comic books, strips, and magazines -- was one of Empire Features' many customers.
One day shortly after becoming aware of this connection, Getsinger was looking at a reverse-printed HARRY KARRY plate and it came to him in a flash: "Rensie" was Eisner spelled backwards. He suddenly knew that what he had here was of extraordinary historical value.
The Lost Work: UNCLE OTTO & HARRY KARRY
UNCLE OTTO and HARRY KARRY, it turns out, represent the earliest known sequential artwork of Will Eisner -- and until now, apart from their titles and a very small smattering of strips salvaged from the few local newspapers that intermittently published them, their contents were almost completely unknown.
In these 100 early strips you can see Eisner's imagination expanding, as he experiments with the possibilities of serialized storytelling and works through his many influences, finally emerging with a close approximation of the style that brought him success and fame with THE SPIRIT in 1940.
We want to publish this important document of the genesis of one of the most influential and brilliant cartoonists of all time. With your help, we can.
This is the first in a planned series of archival projects from Locust Moon Press, in which we intend to salvage vital pieces of comics and art history from the sands of time. We hope that you'll help us in this effort to create a more complete history of the artwork of Will Eisner, and to provide a window into the creative process and self-invention of a genius.
ABOUT WILL EISNER
Will Eisner, caled by Wizard Magazine "the most influential comic artist of all time," is one of the foundational figures in the history of comics. In a career that spanned eight decades, he devised an entirely new cartooning language, created hundreds of unforgettable characters, pioneered the concept of the graphic novel, and reinvented his chosen medium.
He is the author of THE SPIRIT, which ran from 1940-1952, the early graphic novels A CONTRACT WITH GOD, A LIFE FORCE, DROPSIE AVENUE and THE DREAMER, as well as works on comic theory such as COMICS ND SEQUENTIAL ART and GRAPHIC STORYTELLING AND VISUAL NARRATIVE.
He is the namesake of the comics industry's highest award, the Eisner Award.
More information can be found at willeisner.com.
NEW REWARD UPDATE!!
A print of this beautiful Eisner portrait by the Philadelphia artist and University of Pennsylvania cartooning professor Robert Berry is now available, as either a stand-alone reward or with a book!
Risks and challenges
We are well-prepared to undertake this project. The UNCLE OTTO and HARRY KARRY strips have been relief printed from their plates and scanned in high resolution. We have a cover design, and a mocked up interior layout. Denis Kitchen, Will Eisner's long-time publisher, has signed on to write the introduction. We've priced the book with our printer, and have come up with a budget that covers all elements of printing, shipping, and fulfillment.
Our biggest challenge now is funding. And the greatest risk is that without a book to collect this work, it will slip forever away into the unremembered past.
We intend to produce a handsomely designed hardcover edition, off-set printed with top production values. Thanks to the power of crowdfunding and the support of readers like you, a small press company like ours is able to create a more beautiful, sturdy and prestigious publication than would be otherwise feasible. With your help, we will create a book that honors Will Eisner and fills some crucial gaps in early comics history.
Our last Kickstarter campaign, for LITTLE NEMO: DREAM ANOTHER DREAM, proved our capability to produce and deliver a beautiful, high-end hardcover comic book. It went on to win both Eisner and Harvey Awards in 2015. The one complicating factor in that last campaign arose in gathering signatures and sketches from countless busy artists across the continent, but thankfully we aren't faced with that potential problem in this case.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
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