Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Golden Age - The Dreamer!

After reading several histories and biographies of the early days of comics, I thought it might be fun to dig out Will Eisner's The Dreamer and give it a another look see.

Being recently familiar with many of the anecdotes which dot this relatively short saga, I was able to fully enjoy the historical content. We get the moment when Eisner got his job with Chesler because he had printing press experience, we get to see George Tuska punch Bob Powell after Powell made some indecorous comments, and we get to see Eisner's testimony against Victor Fox in the Wonder Man plagarism trial.

But all of these moments are presented with a lightness which undermines the ruggedness of the period. The characters here are by and large very sanitized renditions of the real folks they represent. Perhaps that's because Eisner wants to drive home his larger point that despite their different motivations (money, fame, security) the people in this story all possess a dream to change their lot in life, including Eisner himself who ends the story when he leaves Iger to pursue his dream by creating The Spirit.

This is a rose-colored story for sure, not as good as it might've been had Eisner chosen to be a bit more testy about his choices, but then maybe he just didn't want to say anything bad. I can understand that.

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  1. I spent a while looking up the Wonderman plagerism case it seems that unlike in "the Dreamer" in real life Eisner testified for Fox and said that he created And drew Wonderman before seeing Superman. This is impossible because Seigel was shopping Superman around to different publishers prior to its publication DC and Eisner was one of those stops. But DC never thought of that during this trial.

    1. The history of comics is filled with these kinds of stories, where men of decent character relented in the face of needful employment to do something which their legend doesn't necessarily celebrate. Even more notable than Eisner, who was always the businessman at heart, is the sad tale of Jack Kirby who testified against Carl Burgos when the latter tried to claim the Human Torch. Kirby's later attempts to get proper compensation and recognition must be filtered through these early if understandable but nonetheless unseemly events.
      These were men trying to get on with some degree of honor in a world which all too often doesn't reward that at all.

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