Thursday, May 15, 2008

Will Elder -- R.I.P.

Sad news today. Will Elder, possibly one of the greatest artists ever to grace the comic book page, has passed away.

Will was blessed with a staggering ability for jamming a million little gags into his pages ("Chicken Fat", as he called it), most notably in his collaborations with fellow indelible legend Harvey Kurtzman, on their comics Goodman Beaver and Little Annie Fanny. He was greatly responsible for the very language of modern humor comics, thanks particularly to his contributions to Mad, Trump, Help!, and other great humor comics of the 1950s and 1960s.

He was among a dying breed of comics creators, as well -- he was trained for commercial and fine art at a time which predated so many of the "cheats" that artists now use, from Zip-A-Tone and Letraset to modern markers and mechanical devices, to Photoshop and Illustrator. Elder did it all the old-fashioned way, and it outshines damn near everything on the comics racks today.

Will was not only a spectacular comics creator and innovator, he was also an accomplished painter with a breathtaking facility for a certain glowing realism that must be seen to be believed. His humor often still bubbled up in his paintings, but it never diminished the power of his work, it only enhanced it.

Rest in peace, Mr. Elder.