EARLY EISNER UNEARTHED: Locust Moon Kickstarting Collection of Comic Innovator’s Beginnings

(not final cover)

(not final cover)

“It’s like finding the notebooks of the boy Shakespeare.”

This was Locust Moon Press Publisher Josh O’Neill’s awe-struck reaction upon seeing the newly discovered artwork of Will Eisner — his earliest known comics, drawn when he was just a young man finding his voice.

The importance of Will Eisner in the history of comics cannot be overestimated. The restless innovator, pioneer of the graphic novel, and creator of THE SPIRIT spent the bulk of the 20th Century pushing the comics medium forward. But despite endless scholarship on Eisner and his many achievements, little is known about his earliest work — until now.

His very first known comics, never-before-seen strips from his teenage years, have recently been discovered among a collection of 1930s printing plates. The multiple Eisner and Harvey Award-winning Locust Moon Press intends to publish these strips in a definitive edition entitled THE LOST WORK OF WILL EISNER, which will highlight the first origins of one of the forefathers of modern cartooning. They launched a Kickstarter today in an effort to fund the production of this historically vital book.

These remarkable and revelatory comics were lost to history until New Jersey artist and antique collector Joe Getsinger re-discovered them, hidden among an enormous lot of 1930s-era printing plates that he purchased on a lark from a friend at a collectors’ poker game.

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At first Joe didn’t know what he had — but he became fascinated by two strips, UNCLE OTTO by a mysterious Carl Heck, and HARRY KARRY, credited to another unknown artist named Willis B. Rensie. As Getsinger studied the plates and learned more about 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.

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One day shortly after becoming aware of this connection, Getsinger was looking at a reverse-printed plate and it came to him in a flash: “Rensie” is Eisner backwards. He suddenly knew that what he had here was of extraordinary historical value.

UNCLE OTTO and HARRY KARRY, it turns out, represent the earliest known sequential artwork of Will Eisner — and until now, outside of 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.

Will Eisner Plates-etc-01s

Says Locust Moon creative director Chris Stevens, “In these strips you see Eisner’s imagination expanding, almost in real time. He’s experimenting with the possibilities of serialized storytelling and working through his many influences — there are very distinct E.C. Segar and Alex Raymond phases. By the end of the HARRY KARRY run you see him emerge with a close approximation of the style that brought him success and fame with THE SPIRIT in 1940.”

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In an effort to raise the funds necessary to produce this project, Locust Moon is turning to crowdfunding. This is their first such campaign since their multiple-award-winning sensation LITTLE NEMO: DREAM ANOTHER DREAM lit Kickstarter up and generated over $150,000.

“Will Eisner is the pioneer of the graphic novel and one of the architects of our modern cartooning language,” says Stevens. “This material gives people a chance to see where he started, and how he became what he become. These are the roots of Will Eisner.”

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Locust Moon is seeking $20,000 to fund the publication of a prestige hardcover collecting this unpublished artwork, along with contextual essays and an introduction by historian, publisher, and cartoonist Denis Kitchen. Their Kickstarter campaign is ongoing, and ends on December 10th.

“We want to publish this important document of the genesis of one of the most influential and brilliant cartoonists of all time,” says Locust Moon Editor-in-Chief Andrew Carl. “This book will fill in valuable pieces in Eisner’s biography, and constitute a more complete history of the comics medium.”

“But we can’t do it without you.”

https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1576907254/the-lost-work-of-will-eisner

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Will Eisner appeared at 2004 San Diego Comic Con. Photograph by Patty Mooney, Crystal Pyramid Productions, San Diego, California.

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Locust Moon Comics Festival’s Halloween Weekend

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Photo by Dan Mazur

The Locust Moon Comic Festival, Philadelphia’s rapidly growing independent comics expo, has announced a star-studded guest list and an expanded slate of programs for its fourth annual event, to be held on Halloween of this year.

The historic Rotunda on Walnut Street will play host to a cross-section of the greatest artists, writers, publishers, designers, and makers in sequential and graphic arts. This year’s guest list includes Bill Sienkiewicz (ELEKTRA: ASSASSIN), Craig Thompson (HABIBI), Chris Claremont (UNCANNY X-MEN), Alexa and Denis Kitchen (KITCHEN SINK PRESS), David Mack (KABUKI), Mark Beyer (AMY + JORDAN), and Noah Van Sciver (FANTE BUKOWSKI).

“For the first time, the festivities will extend for three days across the weekend,” says organizer Chris Stevens. The festival kicks off with an all-star Drink & Draw at the Philadelphia Museum of Art, open to the public and led by all of the aforementioned special guests, on Friday night; and following Saturday’s main event, the fun extends through Sunday afternoon with a long pancake brunch for exhibitors. This will be a weekend to remember for artists, authors, and readers alike.

“The intimacy of our festival is what sets it apart from other shows,” says co-runner Josh O’Neill. “What other convention would invite its attendees to have drinks at an art museum with Bill Sienkiewicz and Craig Thompson? It’s not about fans meeting creators and getting books signed. At Locust Moon Comics Festival we all come together as lovers of comics and have a great party.”

The donation-based event on Saturday, October 31 is free to children under 12, and will feature complimentary programming for kids including comic-making workshops, face-painting, and a Halloween costume contest.

Programming throughout Saturday at the Locust Moon store will include a conversation with Chris Claremont, a panel on underground comics featuring Denis Kitchen, Mark Beyer, Pat Aulisio and Noah Van Sciver, an exploration of what it takes to “Draw on Life” with Craig Thompson, Dean Haspiel and Andrea Tsurumi, and a discussion on comics in fine art contexts with Ronald Wimberly, Bill Sienkiewicz and David Mack.

More than just a convention, this community-focused event will honor comic creators and their creations, and for one day, break down the barriers between professional creators, passionate fans, aspiring artists, and curious new readers.

Says organizer Stevens, “Locust Moon Fest brings the world of comics to Philadelphia, and the comics of Philadelphia to the world.”

Find further information about the event and more guests on the Locust Moon Comics Festival website (locustmoonfest.com), Facebook (facebook.com/locustmoonfest), and Twitter (twitter.com/locustmoonfest).

Locust Moon Fest 2015 Poster ws

– Schedule of Events –

FRIDAY, OCTOBER 30
6pm-9pm: Drink & Draw @ Philadelphia Museum of Art (2600 Benjamin Franklin Pkwy)

SATURDAY, OCTOBER 31
11am-6pm: Comics Festival & Kids’ Activities @ The Rotunda (4014 Walnut St)
12pm-6pm: Panels @ Locust Moon Comics store (34 S 40th St)
8pm-???: Halloween/After-Party @ Locust Moon Comics store (34 S 40th St)

SUNDAY, NOVEMBER 1
12pm-3pm: Artists’ Brunch @ Locust Moon Comics store (34 S 40th St)

THE SHAMAN IS HERE

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SUPERNATURAL GRAPHIC NOVEL SHAMAN SUMMONS COMEDY FROM BEYOND THE GRAVE

In what editor Andrew Carl calls, “perhaps the greatest comic ever about a single father necromancer,” New York writer Ben Kahn and Barcelona artist Bruno Hidalgo have teamed up to bring their debut creator-owned graphic novel to stores.

In a universe populated by superheroes and megalomaniacal villains, death is nothing more than a temporary nuisance. A hero makes a noble sacrifice only to come back seven months later thanks to an implausible story contrivance. But what if resurrection was the domain of one, unpredictable man? That is the question Shaman seeks to answer.

Shaman collects five chapters of witty and wild adventures in an urban-fantasy setting. Comicosity writes, “Shaman will stretch the limits of your imagination and provide a poignantly sharp and thoughtful presentation on superhero absurdity that fans of Constantine and The Venture Brothers will be easily drawn to.” Ben and Bruno set the Shaman and his adoptive family against an imaginative array of villains, from skeletons and space heroes, to zombies and baseball monsters. Shaman is a gleeful dismemberment of superhero tropes that follows the one man in control of superhero comics’ infamous revolving door of death.

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Now, Locust Moon Press is ready to unleash this creation upon the world. Shaman is available in stores everywhere. The 132-page graphic novel features art by Farel Dalrymple, Alice Meichi Li, Rob Woods, JG Jones, James Comey, and Jim Rugg.

Kahn imbues Shaman with energy and wit. He crafts tales of imaginative characters on mind-bending adventures. And it is in Hidalgo’s deft hands that the book comes alive. Thanks to Hidalgo’s unique style, Shaman bursts at the seams with charm and character.

Shaman is available now in stores (DIAMOND CODE JUL151468), through www.locustmoon.com, and via the spirit realm.

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Bruno Hidalgo is a Spanish illustrator and cartoonist. He’s the co-creator of Shaman and has had his work featured in Dark Horse’s Once Upon A Time Machine.

Ben Kahn is a New York based writer. He is the co-creator of Shaman and a writer on several mobile adventure games. The graphic novel represents Ben’s comic-making debut.

Ben Kahn is available for interviews and press appearances. Contact him at kahanartist@gmail.com or 203.644.2522.

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Trade cover by Farel Dalrymple

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Issue 1 cover by Bruno Hidalgo

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Issue 3 cover by JG Jones

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Issue 5 cover by Jim Rugg

Little Nemo to DREAM ANOTHER DREAM

PrintWinsor McCay was perhaps the greatest cartoonist of all time, and the Sunday newspaper strip Little Nemo in Slumberland is his most enduring creation. Detailing the adventures of its titular character in The Land of Wonderful Dreams, the early twentieth century opus is one of the most inventive and visually stunning works of American art. A century later, the comic medium is still racing to keep up with the richness, draftsmanship, imagination, and wonder of McCay’s fantastic storytelling and wild Slumberland universe.

In Locust Moon Press’ upcoming anthology LITTLE NEMO: DREAM ANOTHER DREAM, many of the world’s finest cartoonists will pay tribute to the master and his masterpiece by creating new Little Nemo strips, following their own voices down paths lit by McCay. Contributors include Paul Pope, JH Williams III, Bill Sienkiewicz, David Mack, Carla Speed McNeil, Charles Vess, Peter Bagge, Dean Haspiel, Farel Dalrymple, Marc Hempel, Nate Powell, P. Craig Russell, Jeremy Bastian, Jim Rugg, Ron Wimberly, Scott Morse, David Petersen, J.G. Jones, Mike Allred, Dean Motter, Yuko Shimizu, Roger Langridge, and Mark Buckingham, among many others.

To be published in the fall of 2014 as both a newspaper and a hardcover book at the full size of the original Little Nemo broadsheet pages (16″ x 21″), this book will celebrate McCay’s endless legacy, chart his influence on generations of modern cartoonists, and most of all shine a light back on an artist who has given his art form so much, and whose work should be more widely known.

This is a love song for Winsor McCay, Little Nemo, and the limitless possibilities of comics.

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Locust Moon is a retail store, art gallery, and small press based in West Philadelphia. Their first book, ONCE UPON A TIME MACHINE (published through Dark Horse in the fall of 2012) was nominated in the Harveys and Stumptown Comic Arts Awards for Best Anthology. Aside from LITTLE NEMO: DREAM ANOTHER DREAM, Locust Moon’s other current and ongoing projects include the periodical comics & illustration magazine QUARTER MOON, and 36 LESSONS IN SELF-DESTRUCTION, a collection of the mini comics of infamous underground Philadelphia cartoonist Rob Woods. Locust Moon also hosts an annual comics festival, next held on October 25, 2014.

Below are a few pages for the book by Jeremy Bastian, Roger Langridge, Peter & Maria Hoey, Peter Bagge, David Petersen, and Toby Cypress.LittleNemo_LocustMoon_JeremyBastian

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To see a longer (though still nowhere near complete!) list of contributors, click here.

Locust Moon Comics Festival 2013

This October, the LOCUST MOON COMICS FESTIVAL returns! If you want to find more info on the festival, its guests, and its programming, check out the Locust Moon Comics Festival website. And if you’re an artist, creator, or publisher yourself, you can apply for a table at the event. But before all that, check out the wonderful poster Rob Woods whipped up for the occasion:

LMCF2013 poster by Rob Woods

On Saturday, October 5th, Locust Moon Comics will host the second LOCUST MOON COMICS FESTIVAL, an annual celebration of comics, illustration, and graphic arts, to be held at the Rotunda in West Philadelphia (4014 Walnut Street).

Building on last year’s event, this year’s iteration will feature more than twice as many creators in a larger, more versatile space, and add an expansive schedule of programs including workshops, panels, and discussions on the art, business, and history of comics. More than just a convention, this unique event will honor comic creators and comic creations. The emphasis will be on independent and creator-owned books, as the Rotunda will play host to some of the most distinguished and acclaimed artists, writers, and publishers in the comics world.

The LOCUST MOON COMICS FESTIVAL will boast a variety of local Philadelphia talent such as J.G. Jones (Final Crisis), Robert Woods (36 Lessons in Self-Destruction), James Comey (Donkey Punch), and Box Brown (Everything Dies), alongside acclaimed cartoonists from across North America including Farel Dalrymple (Pop Gun War), Chrissie Zullo (Cinderella), Todd Klein (Fables), Tom Scioli (Gødland), Michael Kupperman (Tales Designed to Thrizzle), and Benjamin Marra (Lincoln Washington: Free Man).

The festival will be an all-day affair on Saturday (10am to 6pm), as a cornucopia of publishers and creators vend their wares, sign books, and greet fans. A number of artists will debut festival-exclusive prints, and several will debut new books, including Robert Woods’ 36 LESSONS IN SELF-DESTRUCTION, the long-awaited complete collection of DEPRESSED PUNX mini-comics. While the festival itself takes place on Saturday, events and festivities at Locust Moon Comics will spill across the weekend, including a Drink & Draw, 36 LESSONS book release party, and post-con pancake breakfast.

“This new annual tradition is our way of recognizing and celebrating the huge variety of unique, independent voices in the world of comics,” says Locust Moon co-owner Josh O’Neill. “We want to exalt the infinite possibilities of the medium and acknowledge the intrepid talents that restlessly explore and expand its edges.”

Locust Moon Comics is a retail store, art gallery, and publishing company based in West Philadelphia. This event is the most recent of their many efforts to unify, accelerate, and publicize the burgeoning Philadelphia comic book scene.

Find further information about the event and more guests as they’re announced on the LOCUST MOON COMICS FESTIVAL website (locustmoonfest.com), Facebook (facebook.com/locustmoonfest), and Twitter (twitter.com/locustmoonfest).

LOCUST MOON COMICS RETURNING TO WEST PHILLY

Beloved Institution Entering New Phase

Philadelphia, PA. April 1. Locust Moon, a comic book shop that has been operating in West Philadelphia since 2009, is in the process of expanding into a new location at the corner of 40th and Ludlow St. Including a dedicated art gallery and classroom space, their new facility represents a major step forward for the neighborhood institution.

Their new incarnation represents a wider vision of what a comic book store can be, now including a gallery, arts and education program, and small press, along with their deep and diverse collection of comics and graphic novels, their high-quality art prints, their imported and limited-edition toys, and their vast selection of rare and out-of-print DVDs.

The new Locust Moon will feature gallery shows with major local talents like James Comey and Robert Woods and internationally known names like Farel Dalrymple and J.G. Jones.

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