Will Eisner: Champion of the Graphic Novel
Comic legend Will Eisner elevated cartoons from throwaway fare to high literary artform. This coffee-table book shows you why…
Author Paul Levitz Publisher Abrams ComicArts Price £25 Web www.abramscomicarts.com Available Now
Every artist with an interest in graphic novels needs to know about New York artist Will Eisner. His seminal 1978 work A Contract With God is widely considered the first significant graphic novel, ushering in a new kind of personal, nonsuperhero storytelling that changed the art of comics forever.
Featuring over 200 colour illustrations, and making full use of its large page format, this hardback volume is as complete a collection of Will’s work as you’re ever likely see, stretching from his 1930s newspaper cartoons and iconic 1940s strip The Spirit, right up to his work for Dark Horse Comics, just before his death in 2005 at the age of 86.
Paul Levitz, historian and former president and publisher of DC Comics, traces Will’s evolution as an artist with a clear sense of passion, drawing you into the detail of the artist’s life. But what really keeps you turning the pages, is the art itself.
The teeming life of an immigrant city burned into the young Will’s eyes on his arrival in New York, and the earthy immediacy and visceral nature of his street scenes still have the capacity to enthral and amaze today. As Brad Metzer argues: “It wasn’t that he was one of the first to create ‘serious comics’. It’s that he was one of the first to show the world that comics should be taken seriously.”
A detail from Will Eiser’s cover for A Contract With God, his 1985 comic on the human condition.