Monday, March 24, 2014

SCREW promotional coaster, featuring art by WAYNO

Here's something a little different: I spent this past weekend at the PIX show in Pittsburgh, hob-nobbing with talented titans of cartoondom like Mark Zingarelli, Don Simpson, Jim Rugg, and of course, veteran illustrator Wayno! While chatting with me about SCREW, Wayno mentioned a promo coaster he'd drawn for the paper's art director Kevin Hein in 1996. Upon hearing this news, much like the man pictured in Wayno's drawing, my eyes immediately bugged out, and I begged to see a scan of this fascinating bit of ephemera. The always-gracious Wayno was quick to comply, and here it is! 

Apparently, the thinking behind this object was that the coasters would be scattered liberally throughout NYC watering holes, where inebriates would first see the coaster, then feel compelled to subscribe to the World's Greatest Newspaper, and thus seal their own doom. Did the plan work? Were the coasters distributed as planned? Was there a bump in SCREW subscriptions? Does there remain somewhere a secret stash of these coasters, to be made available one day at a fittingly-obscene price? Dear reader, I'm afraid I have no answers for you at this time. 

Sunday, March 2, 2014

NATIONAL SCREW Vol.1, No.3, with a four page comics feature by WILL EISNER

 Will Eisner in SCREW?!? Yes, it's true. 

In the late Seventies, Al Goldstein partnered with Lyle Stuart to publish a slick, national version of SCREW magazine titled, (what else?) NATIONAL SCREW. I suspect the mag was Goldstein's attempt to claw back some of the success enjoyed by HUSTLER, (publisher Larry Flynt notoriously rehashed many of SCREW's best gimmicks and served them up to his national readership of meth-crazed truck drivers and toothless hillbillies). 

I don't know how many issues of NATIONAL SCREW were published; my feeling is the mag didn't last long. The contents are a mixed bag; there's some lively '70s hipster content (features on Lou Reed and Television, short fiction by the likes of Wm. S. Burroughs and Harlan Ellison, and smutty parody comics presented in full color). However, the mag's actual porn content, (unappealing photo layouts and hacked-out sex reviews) are unlikely to have given the competition any sleepless nights.

Dropped inexplicably into the middle of this mid-70s countercultural mishmash was one of the founding fathers of comics, Will Eisner.  Since I don't own a complete run of NATIONAL SCREW, I can't say whether this odd comics feature is a one-off, or part of a longer series. I also can't tell if this strip is something Eisner drew specifically for this mag, or if it's merely some unsold inventory pulled from Eisner's flat files to turn a quick buck. 

I can say that while the art resembles what we see in Eisner's groundbreaking 1978 graphic novel "A CONTRACT WITH GOD," the writing isn't nearly as inspired. I'm generally an Eisner fan, but I think this creaky strip is enough to make all but the most fanatical Eisner worshippers cringe.