Monday, June 13, 2022

Today in Comics History, June 13: Happy birthday, W. B. Yeats!

You'd hardly expect comics books to spotlight writers of great literature, but as they've said somewhere or other, comics: they're not just for kids anymore! That's why we gather together on this here blog to celebrate today's birthday of William Butler Yeats, the great Irish writer of drama, poetry, fiction, and essays: At the Hawk's Well, The Land of Heart's Desire, "The Second Coming," "He Wishes for the Cloths of Heaven," Long-Legged Fly," "Sailing to Byzantium," "Easter 1916," and more.

No, he didn't star in superhero comics (if you ignore Marvel's The Redoubtable Yeats miniseriesl), but he did get quoted in a few, sometimes by the most unlikely of characters:

from "The Return of the Defenders Part 4: Hot Spell" in Doctor Strange, Sorcerer Supreme Annual (1922 series) #2 (Marvel, 1992), script by Roy Thomas, pencils by M. C. Wyman, inks by E. R. Cruz, colors by Kevin Tinsley, letters by Michael Higgins

Naturally, Vertigo Comics is a ripe medium for quoting one of Ireland's favorite sons (no, not Lucky the Leprechaun):

from Doom Patrol (1987 series) #30 (DC, March 1990), script by Grant Morrison, pencils by Richard Case, inks by John Nyberg, colors by Daniel Vozzo, letters by John Workman

A mate of Cassidy from Preacher uses Yeat's famous line as the punchline to a dirty insult:

from Preacher #26 (DC/Vertigo, June 1997), script by Garth Ennis, pencils and inks by Steve Dillon, colors by Matt Hollingsworth, letters by Clem Robins

But as for appearances of W. B. Yeats, kickin' Skrull ass and battlin' AIM goons in beekeeper hats? Why, the closest you might get is in Alan Moore's From Hell, and we all know how much he loves Skrulls and AIM...

from From Hell #6 (Mad Love, November 1994), script by Alan Moore; pencils, inks, and letters by Eddie Campbell

(Seeing as it's Alan Moore 'n' all, we get an entire lengthy back-of-the-book endnote about this fictional scene:)

But Yeats finally gets the full focus, including the front cover, of an entire comic book in the Sandman spin-off The Dreaming.

cover of The Dreaming (1996 series) #35 (DC/Vertigo, April 1999), art by Dave McKean

An older Yeats, three weeks away from his death, writes a letter to his friend and fantastic pen pal Lucien the librarian:

from The Dreaming #35; script by Caitlín R. Kiernan, pencils and inks by Rebecca Guay, colors and color separations by Daniel Vozzo, letters by Todd Klein

A later flashback shows a Lucien in 1894 with a younger Yeats (in the grey jacket) and Aubrey Beardsley. The Beardsley illos mentioned for Oscar Wilde's Salome can be seen at the British Library website.

from The Dreaming (1996 series) #41 (DC/Vertigo, October 1999), script by Caitlín R. Kiernan, pencils and inks by Al Davison, colors and color separations by Daniel Vozzo, letters by Ellie De Ville

Happy birthday, W. B. Yeats! I hereby hoist a Guinness to your memory.

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