New York Public Library Readers Den:
Week 1-The Contract With God Trilogy
For this month's Reader's Den, we'll be hosting a four week online book discussion of Will Eisner's The Contract With God Trilogy: Life on Dropsie Avenue....
So; while there's no creator in the history of comics that I respect more than Mr Eisner, I just feel that I'd benefit from owning up to the fact that I think his work on the Spirit is, as a general principle, far, far superior to anything which he produced from the publication of "A Contract With God And Other Tenement Stories" in 1978 onwards....and...
The weekly context in which The Spirit's adventures were published demanded both innovation and clarity, emotion and excitement, and just like the very best of any and all popular entertainment, it was largely unpretentious, lacking in worthiness and completely involving. If the message of a typical Spirit tale tended to be somewhat obvious, and most of the themes were never anything other than straight-forward, the storytelling carried the reader onwards towards the story's moral closure with an exceptional vigour. And The Spirit himself, so often decried by Mr Eisner as being no more sophisticated a character than a man in a mask, served so effectively as an everyman, as the reader's POV, as a symbol of an individual caught outside the madness of everyday life trying to impose some sanity upon it. Constantly beaten, wounded, heart-broken, confused, the Spirit moves me far more as a symbol of one type of 20th century person than any of Mr Eisner's later characters do.Read the full post here.
It is now fairly common knowledge that Eisner neither invented the term itself nor the form that we call a "graphic novel," but it is fair to say that he popularized the term when he later used it to promote [A Contract With God] upon publication from Baronet Books in 1978, and, for better or worse, the term has stuck.If, as an Eisner reader, you are not familiar with the ground covered by this topic, this is as good a place to start as any, as the comments to the blog post also features some interesting comics history noted by graphic novelist Eddie Campbell, among others.
"Will Eisner's New York" turned out not to be the most accurate name for the New York Comic Con panel devoted to the creator of The Spirit; although a slideshow of 's drawings of the neighborhoods of New York played on a screen throughout the panel, the conversation consisted mainly of memories of the man himself.Read the full article here.
Most of the panel members had a personal or professional connection with Eisner: Michael Schumacher, the author of the upcoming biography "Will Eisner: A Dreamer's Life in Comics"; Denis Kitchen, Eisner's longtime publisher and the representative of his estate; David Hajdu, a professor at Columbia University and author of "The Ten-Cent Plague"; Paul Levitz, former president of DC Comics, who worked with Eisner on "The Spirit Library" and wrote an eight-page Spirit story; and Jules Feiffer, who worked in Eisner's studio and recently published his memoir, "Backing into Forward." Comics writer Arie Kaplan moderated the panel which began on a cordial note with the panelists autographing each other's books.