P. S. Magazine by Will Eisner

P. S. Magazine: The Best of The Preventive Maintenance Monthly
by Will Eisner
Abrams Comic Arts, 2011

An interesting but extremely minor addition to Eisner’s canon, optimistically described on the back cover as “The missing link between The Sprit and A Contract with God”, in much the same way that More American Graffiti is the missing link between Star Wars and The Empire Strikes Back.

This handsome hardback, with beguilingly rounded corners, reprints a selection of pages from P. S. Magazine, a technical periodical issued to American military mechanics full of protocol and tips on how to maintain everything from a rifle to a tank. Sex bomb mechanic Connie Rod and all-American doofus Private Joe Dope wage an endless war against entropy, incompetence and minor corruption over twenty years, from the Korean War to Vietnam, which is when Eisner wisely parted company from the publication.

It’s interesting if you like exploded diagrams, cautionary verse and Eisner’s rubbery humans, and there’s a great introduction and historical summary from From Hell‘s Eddie Campbell (who reassuringly quotes a description of the magazine “as being on the pathetic side of funny”) but it’s a bit like M*A*S*H without the introspection. The endpapers feature a photo where tatty collected editions of P. S. are crammed between the definitive modern reprints of The Spirit and the seminal graphic novels of DC Comics’s Will Eisner Library, which says it all, really.

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