Monday, April 5, 2010

Backing Into Forward

In his new memoir, Backing Into Forward, cartoonist, author and playwright Jules Feiffer recalls how he landed a job, without pay for the longest time, right out of high school in the legendary Will Eisner’s studio. But, Feiffer says, while he remained a great admirer of his hero’s work, “… by mid-1947, (The Spirit comic strip) wasn’t what it had been. I found myself increasingly let down by Will’s story writing.”

Knowing no fear, Feiffer, now all of 18, mentioned this drop-off in quality to his boss. To his surprise, Eisner replied, “‘If you think you can do better, why don’t you try your hand at one?’”

So, channeling Eisner, he blended in other influences — his own Bronx childhood as well as then-popular radio dramas such as The Adventures of Sam Spade, Detective. Eisner perused Feiffer’s first eight-page layout, with its “crude sketches and dialogue,” then said, “‘This is good, we’re going to use this. Write more.’”

“And I wrote more.” Young Feiffer was off to the races.

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