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will eisner

Post #146 • November 7, 2003, 9:21 AM

I am astonished to learn that Will Eisner lives in South Florida. Judy Cantor just wrote about him for this week’s Street on the occasion of his slated appearance at the Miami Book Fair to speak about his new work, Fagin the Jew. Who is Will Eisner? As Cantor ably puts it:

The pioneer of literate comics and the creator of the now-burgeoning genre he named the graphic novel, Eisner has been called “The Leonardo of the Comic Book.” He’s long advocated for the recognition of comics as an art. “I believe—and I’ve always believed—that comics are a literary form,” he says. “It’s a combination of two of the most powerful means of communication we have, words and pictures, which accounts for the endurance of this medium and the progress it’s making.”

Before anyone would have considered displaying comics alongside literature in a bookstore, Eisner saw potential. He’s demonstrated the ability of the medium to narrate serious fiction in over a dozen graphic novels. He’s also proved the usefulness of the comic medium in creating educational materials and in dealing with historical and social issues. He taught a course in comics for 17 years at the School of Visual Art in New York, and authored two instructional books which are widely used in many countries. Though not a household name, he’s revered throughout the industry: the Eisner Awards, among the most important honors in comics, are named for him.

One of those instructional books is Comics & Sequential Art, the only book that can be cited as an intellectual predecessor to Scott McCloud’s indespensable Understanding Comics.

Eisner will speak on Sunday at 11 am. Since Necee Regis is speaking at 10:30, I hope that she’s allowed to go on first so I can catch them both. I’d like to get my copy of Comics & Sequential Art signed.

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