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. 

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