Image by shawn.l via Flickr
November 11, 2008 at 3:22 pm.
Will Eisner is particularly well known today for creating “The Spirit,” his blue-clad superhero that’s currently receiving the Hollywood treatment at the hands of Frank Miller. But lesser known is that Eisner was a veteran of no less than three major wars: World War II (where he was an enlisted man) and Korea and Vietnam, where he was a civilian contracter eventually obtaining the rank equivalent to a brigadier general. I was fortunate enough to know Will, and four years before his death in 2005, we chatted at length about his military service, how it related to “The Spirit,” and his views on the extreme stresses of war. In honor of both Veterans Day and Will Eisner, enjoy this rare look inside the mind of the revered comics legend on this most serious of topics.
MTV: Where were you when Pearl Harbor was attacked?
WE: I was sitting in my studio eating a roast beef sandwich which my mother prepared for me [laughs]. I was working on “The Spirit.” I was really shook up listening to it. I was listening to the opera at the time…it was a Carnegie Hall concert. I remember the thing was cut off and they announced the attack on Pearl Harbor. And I was really shook up because I realized that this was gonna be it. I’d be drafted.
MTV: And in 1942, you were drafted into the Army.
WE: Early ’42. The Army gave me a six-month delay because I was working on a newspaper feature.
MTV: What were you feeling when you received your draft notice?
WE: Well, I was ambivalent. Remember, unlike the Vietnam War, everybody was very in favor of the war, particularly because of the Nazis and because of the fact that the country seemed to be in danger. So I was kind of eager to be part of it. I felt that I’d want to be part of the war effort. On the other hand, this was a year after I had started “The Spirit,” which represented a whole new career for me. And I knew that if I went into the Army this whole thing would kind of fall apart on me. So I was torn between the two feelings. One was the eagerness to go and sign up, [but] on the other hand, the loss of a possible career. So that was my feeling.
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