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 Noted historian Paul Levitz celebrates Eisner by showcasing his most famous work along­side unpublished and rare materials from the family archives.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.

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reprints from the postwar era with a new story in each. They were mostly notable for being the first taste of The Spirit for a new generation of cartoonists. Meanwhile, comics were changing in both obvious ways and some very subtle ones. In mainstream comics, still with circulations in the hundreds of thousands each issue, and published endlessly, creative people were gaining more influence over the content. Dangerous subjects, such as politics, race, and religion, were still kept far from the

their own comics, but in a working environment where the expectations would remind them that comics was a business, too, and that the workers in his “shop” would perform accordingly. It was a gifted bunch that would hear Eisner lecture over the next few years: Lash would go on to do a self-published series titled Supernatural Law that has been running for over thirty years; Laney would work for Eisner at American Visuals; Holmstrom would create Punk magazine; Wiacek would be a noted inker; Drew

January 1987. Writer Alan Moore and artist Dave Gibbons were both admirers of Eisner’s work, and in their groundbreaking series they used many of the techniques he’d pioneered decades before. The 1987 trade paperback edition went on to become the first American graphic novel to sell over a million copies. Interior page from Batman: The Dark Knight Returns no. 4, DC Comics, June 1986. Collected in trade paperback and hardcover in 1987, Miller’s The Dark Knight Returns became the first graphic

original artwork. DK: Will asked me to store a pallet of zinc plates for him; he had stored it in New York at New York rates for many years, and he asked to ship them to Wisconsin, where I could store them for free. These things weighed literally tons. I moved them so many times and they were so heavy, I threatened to change the name of my company to Kitchen Zinc Press. But he [had] that Depression mentality. I’m going to keep those zinc plates; long after the technology was obsolete. Still have

comic book world and created opportunities for a host of imitators. The line between what was generic to the idea of a super hero and what was specific to Superman was impossible to delineate in those early days, but Eisner and Iger ended up clearly on the wrong side of it. Along with Fiction House, another large customer of the shop was a new company, Fox Publications, named after its owner, Victor Fox, a former accountant at the publisher of Superman and Action Comics. Fox had been giving

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