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Ed Catto

Ed Catto

Ed Catto is looking forward to showing people what he admits is a "horrible movie."

The movie, "The Spirit," is part of a pair of events involving Catto, of Auburn, that will celebrate Will Eisner Week March 6 and 7. Released in 2008, "The Spirit" brought Eisner's eponymous masked crimefighter to the silver screen with a cast that included Samuel L. Jackson, Scarlett Johansson and Sarah Paulson. Unlike Eisner's legendary 1940 character, however, the film flopped.

"It's very difficult to watch to enjoy it as a great movie," Catto said. "But as a movie to see how another creator was inspired to do something, it's fantastic."

Inspiration is why Catto wanted to participate in local observations of Will Eisner Week, which marks the artist's 100th birthday March 6. Growing up in Auburn, Catto was himself inspired by the books he bought at places like Maxwell's and Kim's Comics. A lifelong fascination with the art form led him, in the late 2000s, to launch his own hero, Captain Action, with Moonstone Books.

Catto, now 53, moved back to the Auburn area with his wife in July, he said Wednesday. His return comes as "geek culture" goes mainstream in the form of blockbuster superhero films like "The Avengers" or "Suicide Squad," popular TV series that source more obscure comics like "Preacher" and "Lucifer," and comic cons across the country — even in Cayuga County in late February.

Where Auburn was once the site of a community burning of comic books in 1949, Catto said, now one can find a vast graphic novel collection at Seymour Library. So he saw an opportunity to share his enthusiasm in his hometown — beginning March 6 and 7 with events celebrating the man who coined the term "graphic novel" with 1978's "A Contract with God."

The first night, Catto will hold a panel, "Will Eisner: Celebrating Graphic Novels, an Appreciation of Comics as Literature" and then screen "The Spirit" at Seymour Library. The second night, he'll introduce a little-seen documentary about the artist, "Will Eisner: Portrait of a Sequential Artist," at Auburn Public Theater.

Eisner was one of the giants in the comics industry, Catto said. He was as hardworking and creatively rich as his Marvel Comics counterparts, but also a responsible father and family man. The Auburn native hopes the events he's organizing will raise appreciation of not only Catto's work, but the art form he never stopped elevating.

"I thought this was a way I can contribute to Auburn and do something that's a lot of fun, and bring something no one else really knows about," he said.

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Lake Life Editor David Wilcox can be reached at (315) 282-2245 or david.wilcox@lee.net. Follow him on Twitter @drwilcox.

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Features editor for The Citizen and auburnpub.com. I also cover local arts and culture, business, food and drink, and more.