Will Eisner: Champion of the Graphic Novel

Will Eisner: Champion of the Graphic Novel

Paul Levitz

Language: English

Pages: 220

ISBN: 1419714988

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub

Will Eisner (1917–2005) is universally considered the master of comics storytelling, best known for The Spirit, his iconic newspaper comic strip, and A Contract With God, the first significant graphic novel. This seminal work from 1978 ushered in a new era of personal stories in comics form that touched every adult topic from mortality to religion and sexuality, forever changing the way writers and artists approached comics storytelling. Noted historian Paul Levitz celebrates Eisner by showcasing his most famous work along­side unpublished and rare materials from the family archives. Also included are original interviews with creators such as Jules Feiffer, Art Spiegelman, Scott McCloud, Jeff Smith, Denis Kitchen, and Neil Gaiman—all of whom knew Eisner and were inspired by his work to create their own graphic novels for a new generation of readers.

NOTE: The cover is a high-quality photographic reproduction of Eisner's original art. The design intentionally reveals tape and other stray markings that are part of the artist's process and reflect the age of the artifact that was photographed.











artist, if you’re lucky enough, who give you permission, open doors for you, show you the way. They open a dark room and flash a light on in it. You say, ‘Oh my god, the stuff in this room. I had no idea there’s so much stuff in this room!’ Then you go into the room and you do your own thing in that room, but you could never have done it if that artist didn’t show you the light. And Will splashed just that kind of light.” Feiffer’s presence in the studio meant more than another pair of hands.

crossover parodies of their characters. Eisner went for it and delivered on their agreement in his July 20 strip that year. But Capp never followed through by featuring a hint of The Spirit in his much more widely read strip. The bad blood lingered. Original art for the splash of “A Legend,” The Spirit no. 321, July 21, 1946. Nobody in comics used weather like Eisner, particularly rainstorms. Original art, Spirit Jam, 1981. MAD Magazine creator Harvey Kurtzman, arguably Eisner’s only

others carried messages similar to those he would employ in PS. If Eisner weighed the pros and cons of this venture, he would have tallied several factors in his favor: His work on Army Motors showed his experience in reaching the very men who, as they demobilized, were becoming the key customers and workers for the expanding American economy; The Spirit reached an audience in the millions, larger than any single comic book, and demonstrated his skill as a communicator with the hard numbers

tragedies and emerged as both a significant contributor to the undergrounds and to popular cartooning, with his work on Wacky Packages and other satirical products for Topps, the chewing gum company. It wasn’t the last time Eisner and Spiegelman’s lives would intersect, or that they’d disagree, yet their common goals for their chosen medium would probably prove more alike than those of any other people in the room. THE COMBINATION OF EISNER’S curiosity and Kitchen’s tenacity led to an ongoing

Spirit of St. Louis. Sam encouraged this, proud of his son’s budding talent, despite the fact that his own life in art had been, to put it kindly, economically unstable. Fannie worried about her son’s future prosperity and tried to persuade him to consider at least becoming an art teacher. It was a more dependable, respectable profession … with a pension, even. As Eisner later put it, “My mother had grave doubts about how I would grow up.” Biographers have theorized that the dichotomy of Eisner’s

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