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Will Eisner


M. Thomas Inge

Publication Year: 2011

Will Eisner's innovations in the comics, especially the comic book and the graphic novel, as well as his devotion to comics analysis, make him one of comics' first true auteurs and the cartoonist so revered and influential that cartooning's highest honor is named after him. His newspaper feature The Spirit (1940-1952) introduced the now-common splash page to the comic book, as well as dramatic angles and lighting effects that were influenced by, and influenced in turn, the conventions of film noir. Even in his tales of crime fighting, Eisner's writing focused on everyday details of city life and on contemporary social issues. In 1976, he premiered A Contract with God, and Other Tenement Stories, a collection of realist cartoon stories that paved the way for the modern "graphic novel." His 1985 book, Comics and Sequential Art, was among the first sustained analyses and overviews of the comics form, articulating theories of the art's grammar and structure. Eisner's studio nurtured such comics legends as Jules Feiffer, Wally Wood, Lou Fine, and Jack Cole.

Will Eisner: Conversations, edited by comics scholar M. Thomas Inge, collects the best interviews with Eisner (1917-2005) from 1965 to 2004. Taken together, the interviews cover the breadth of Eisner's career with in-depth information about his creation of The Spirit and other well-known comic book characters, his devotion to the educational uses of the comics medium, and his contributions to the development of the graphic novel.

Published by: University Press of Mississippi

Title Page, Copyright, Dedication

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pp. vii-viii

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pp. ix-xiii

To study the life of Will Eisner, comic artist extraordinaire, is to study the origins, history, and development of the comic book and the graphic novel. They were profoundly interrelated and one could argue that the fate of the graphic narrative in general...


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pp. xv-xviii

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The Only Real Middle-Class Crimefighter

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pp. 3-7

It started with Jules Feiffer saying in his book, The Great Comic Book Heroes, that in the golden age of comic books a seminal force in the industry, the comic artist most likely to be imitated by other comic artists, was Will Eisner, who, between...

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Having Something to Say

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pp. 8-23

My first attempt to interview Will Eisner was in August 1961. I visited his offices in New York unannounced, and, although he was very cordial, he indicated that he was not interested in being interviewed. He said that he was very flattered that I still...

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Will Eisner: Before the Comics

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pp. 24-32

I was born in New York City on March 6, 1917. I have absolutely no way of knowing what stars converged at that time, what great earthshaking events occurred. My father was born in a little village just outside of Vienna, so I am Austrian...

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An Interview with Will Eisner

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pp. 33-39

Sim: How do you see the development of comic art in recent years...

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An Interview with Will Eisner

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pp. 40-46

Jerry DeFuccio: Will, what was the creative atmosphere in which The Spirit evolved? You know, gestation time, false starts, trying it out on your associates...

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Will Eisner Interview

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pp. 47-78

yronwode: Since you are best known to comic book readers as the creator of The Spirit, suppose we start with a history of that era—how did you come to create that character...

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A Talk with Will Eisner

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pp. 79-86

Will Eisner may not be a genius, but in the history of comics, he’ll do until the real thing comes along. People think they are doing Eisner a favor by comparing The Spirit to Citizen Kane, but The Spirit came out every week for thirteen years...

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Will Eisner

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pp. 87-102

Dale Luciano: Since you’ve traveled in Europe and America in connection with your work, you would seem not only to have a good overview of the entire history of comics...

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Mastering the Form: An Interview with Will Eisner

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pp. 103-107

Although we rarely take it seriously, cartooning is an integral part of our culture. We see it every day in newspapers, TV, short and feature films, comic books, and even instruction booklets from Sony Walkman radios to sophisticated military...

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A Cartoonist’s Cartoonist

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pp. 108-112

If you sneak around back, you can peek into the inner sanctum and catch a glimpse of the legend himself: one of the comic-book medium’s founding fathers, creator of The Spirit, the first comic book inserted into a Sunday newspaper...

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Getting the Last Laugh: My Life in Comics

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pp. 113-120

It was 1937. The newspaper comic strip was in its heyday. The strips were so popular that some inventive businessmen were starting to repackage them as whole books. The comics field, even in the bleak ’30s, seemed to have a bright future...

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Will Eisner: The Old Man on the Mountain

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pp. 121-130

Comic Book Rebels: What did you think was possible in the comics medium when you started in the industry, back in 1936...

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Night of the Paper Noir

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pp. 131-175

Program Notes: In a discussion about art and cinema once, actor Rod Steiger winced when I called his cab scene with Marlon Brando in On the Waterfront “larger than life.” “Kid,” he said with a cocktail of sadness and bemusement...

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Will Eisner’s Vision and the Future of the Comics

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pp. 176-184

In 1978, Will Eisner published a hardback book of short stories told in the comics medium. The stories were set in the 1930s tenements of the Bronx where Eisner grew up, and Eisner had been mulling over this material for at least twenty years...

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Interview: Will Eisner

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pp. 185-195

When Will Eisner co-founded the first “comic art shop” in the late 1930s, he took one of the first steps in an epic career that would significantly change the face of comics in America. Eisner’s studio—which employed Bob Kane, Lou Fine...

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Eisner Wide Open

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pp. 196-204

Tom Heintjes: What challenges do you see cartoonists facing that they traditionally haven’t had...

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The Spirit of Comics: The Will Eisner Interview

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pp. 205-219

Danny Fingeroth: I want to thank you for taking the time to do this interview, Will. What are you working on right now? I know you’re in the middle of a project...

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Auteur Theory

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pp. 220-230

Comic Book Marketplace: For many years you’ve had complete autonomy over your projects—how does it feel to have carte blanche to explore and push the limits of the medium...


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pp. 231-239


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pp. 240-253

E-ISBN-13: 9781617031281
E-ISBN-10: 1617031283
Print-ISBN-13: 9781617031267
Print-ISBN-10: 1617031267

Page Count: 224
Publication Year: 2011

Research Areas


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Subject Headings

  • Eisner, Will -- Interviews.
  • Cartoonists -- United States -- Interviews.
  • Interview.
  • Geschichte 1965-2004. -- swd.
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