- Virginia Johnson
If you love comics and want to be entertained, you really need to check out Christopher Irving’s (words) and Seth Kushner’s (pictures) Leaping Tall Buildings: The Origins of American Comics. It’s a bright and brilliant introduction to the people who brought stories of brave deeds to American audiences through their work. Here’s a snippet from his sketch on Will Eisner (The Spirit):
“At first, it was just Will pushing a pencil and snapping a brush under countless nom de plumes, but eventually, they gained a small staff that included two future comics superstars: Eisner’s old friend Kahn (now signing as the less Jewish sounding Bob Kane), and a tough young scrapper named Jacob Kurtzberg, a few years shy of changing his name to Jack Kirby. They packaged material for any publisher who’d pay, creating new characters in all flavors.”
Writing snappy patter is a gift, and it’s one that Christopher Irving clearly possesses. He uses it amazingly well to bring his artistic interviewees to life on the page. Seth Kushner’s portraits are creative character studies, not glossy promotional photos. Indeed, the entire book is printed on thick, non-glossy paper. Its texture makes turning the pages reminiscent of reading a comic from decades past. In addition to Kushner’s photos, each interview-based essay is illustrated with numerous covers and panels from the subject’s work.