February 2009 Archives

Sunday March 1st to Friday March 7th
Minneapolis College of Art and Design: www.mcad.edu


Sunday Lecture series and Documentary Screening
Will Eisner his influence and spirit. Guest Speaker N.C. Christopher Couch, Eisner editor and author of the Will Eisner Companion.
The Hero High Above the City.
Dr. Frenchy Lunning
Hosted by the MCAD Student Group Comic Heads

Special Screening:
Will Eisner: Portrait of a Sequential Artist.
Directed by Andrew D. Cooke.

March 1st. MCAD Main Auditorium 150. 1 p.m.

Minneapolis College of Art and Design

2501 Stevens Avenue, Minneapolis, MN 55404

Student Exhibit: Our Spirits in Comics

An exhibition showcasing the emerging talent of Junior and Senior work from MCAD's Comic Art program.

Opening March 6th - March 10th. MCAD Corridor Gallery.

MOMEntum: The New Comics

A retrospective of work featured in the Fantagraphics Book quarterly Mome, one of comic art's leading contemporary anthologies. Live Music by Elliot Looney and DJ Danny Sigelman.
Reception: Friday, March 6, 6-8 p.m.
MCAD Gallery.
Lecture by cartoonist and Mome Editor Eric Reynolds:
Friday March 6th, 1p.m. MCAD Auditorium 150.

Gallery hours: Mon.-Fri.: 9 a.m.-8 p.m. | Sat.: 9 a.m.-5 p.m. | Sun.: noon-5 p.m.

Minneapolis College of Art and Design

2501 Stevens Avenue, Minneapolis, MN 55404

March 1st - March 7th
Savannah College of Art and Design: www.scad.edu

Will Eisner Week Educational Materials

| No Comments | No TrackBacks
Now through February 23rd we will be adding content to our Educational Materials generously donated from comic educators: Paul Karasik, Diana Green, Ivan Brunetti, Dr. Frenchy Lunning, Zak Sally, and Diana Schutz.

Watch this space also for information on public events to be held by The Minneapolis College of Art and Design, The Savannah College of Art and Design, and The Comic Book Legal Defense Fund in New York City.

On Will Eisner

| No Comments | No TrackBacks

Will Eisner

March 6, 1917 - January 3, 2005

"When somebody asks me what got me into comics,

I can only think of one word: malnutrition."

Every spring term at Portland Community College I teach a course entitled Understanding Comics Art. One of my lectures is a presentation on Will Eisner, and these are the notes and visuals for that presentation. The information was originally culled from R.C. Harvey's The Art of the Comic Book: An Aesthetic History, but was supplemented by my own personal friendship with Will and by my professional relationship with him as his Dark Horse editor during the last five years of his life.

--Diana Schutz

Executive Editor, Dark Horse Comics

2. Will.jpg

  • Will Eisner was born on March 6, 1917; up until his death on January 3, 2005, he was still at the drawing board every day.
  • The godfather of American comics, Eisner was probably the first to recognize comics as an art form.
  • He was first published in 1936 when he sold some comic strips to Wow! magazine.

3. WDreamer.jpg

  • The Eisner/Iger shop: In 1937, Eisner and Wow! editor Jerry Iger formed a studio, hiring writers and artists to produce new material for the then-burgeoning comics industry: including Bob Kane, Jack Kirby, and Joe Kubert.
  • In 1940, Eisner joined with "Busy" Arnold and Henry Martin to produce material for Smash Comics, Hit Comics, and National Comics, as well as for a weekly 16-page newspaper supplement.
4. WSpirit.jpg

  • Thus was The Spirit born. The newspaper supplement, soon named "The Spirit Section" due to the success of its lead story, featured weekly seven- or eight-page Spirit stories (along with Nick Viscardi's Lady Luck and Bob Powell's Mr. Mystic).
  • Eisner insisted on owning the copyright to his character, which was unprecedented at the time; it wasn't money so much that he was after, but creative control.

5. WaSpiritCast.jpgThe Spirit Cast of Characters:
  • Denny Colt: criminologist and private detective, is found apparently dead, but literally rises from the grave and decides to "remain dead and take up the job of being the 'Spirit'" in order to work more effectively for justice. Because the costumed hero was at the early height of popularity following the first appearance of Superman in 1938, Eisner reluctantly gave his character a mask and gloves by the second installment.
  • Ebony: racial caricature, but created in order to provide the Spirit with someone to talk to, to exercise his skills of detection without having countless thought balloons in each panel.
  • Dolan: ruff cop, provided the Spirit's connection to the police (law & order).
  • Ellen: Dolan's daughter, the love interest.
6. WSpiritInks1.jpg
7. WSpiritInks2.jpg

  • The Spirit stories visually noted for:
  • Heavy use of ink/blacks for shadowing & atmosphere.

8. WSpiritHouse.jpg

  • Inventive layout: Eisner's reaction to the constraints of only seven or eight pages in which to tell his story.

9. WSpiritTitle1.jpg

11. WSpiritTitle3.jpg

  • Splash page incorporating logo in visually inventive ways, used to set scene/mood.
  • Unusual perspectives: bird's eye and worm's eye views.

The Spirit stories thematically noted for:

  • Humor in the face of film noir crime stories.
  • The notion of the little man overcoming all odds: often the spotlight was shifted almost entirely off the hero himself.

13. WP'gell.jpg
  • Eisner's femmes fatales: P'Gell, Silk Satin, and Sand Saref, among others, heavily influenced by...

14. WDragonLady.jpg

...The Dragon Lady, from Milton Caniff's Terry and the Pirates.

  • Eisner discontinued The Spirit in 1952 when he became dissatisfied with others' work on his character and at a time when the market for comics was dying.
15. WP*S.jpg

  • Eisner Founded American Visuals Corporation, a commercial art company, and spent numerous years illustrating educational-type manuals: most notably P.S. Magazine for the army.
16. WSnarf.jpg

  • In 1971, Phil Seuling contacted Eisner to be a guest at his NYC "Comic Book Marketplace" convention. Eisner met the "underground" cartoonists, most notably Denis Kitchen, and this sparked his creative fire again; their autobiographical comics stories led Eisner to see that the art form could move beyond its origins as entertainment and into the realm of literature.
17. WContract.jpg

  • In 1978, Eisner wrote and drew A Contract With God, though not the first actual graphic novel, certainly the first significant "graphic novel," though it is actually a collection of four stories.
  • In 1985, Eisner published Comics & Sequential Art, the first textbook about the medium of comics.
  • The comics industry's Academy Awards, so to speak, are named after Will Eisner.

  • Once he'd returned to the field of comics, Eisner wrote and drew one graphic novel every year or two, the last of which, The Plot: The Secret Story of the Elders of Zion, was published posthumously by W.W. Norton.

24. WPlot2.jpg

  • The book marked yet another departure for Eisner in that it is a nonfiction, historical narrative.

25. WEscSpirit.jpg

  • Eisner's very last comics work, done at my request, was a six-page team-up featuring the Escapist and the Spirit, completed just two weeks before he died.

In the past, when Will was still alive, I'd call him before giving this lecture and ask him to add some "words of wisdom" for my students.

Will has had this to say specifically to our class:

In 2002, Will suggested thinking about the concept of the "graphic novel": not as a printed artifact so much as a literary artifact. Not merely a collection of comic books, but a story told in comics format with subject matter that is socially significant. Eisner felt that if comics are ever to be taken as serious literature, then the medium must begin to tackle more sophisticated subjects. Cf. A Family Matter.

In 2003, Will said that if you're interested in becoming a part of this industry, you've got to stick with it, have faith in yourself, and learn to handle rejection. He said he would never forget, as a young artist presenting his portfolio to an art director, being told: "Now, don't take this personally, but this is the worst crap I've ever seen!" (A story Will told in comics form in AutobioGraphix, published by Dark Horse in 2003.)

In 2004, Will talked about the comics medium as an example of the new literacy, one which employs images as the primary tool of communication. Just as oral culture was supplanted by print culture, he believed that we are moving into an image-based culture of communication and that comics are a part of this new paradigm. The comics medium is a part of a great socio-cultural movement that began in the 20th century. Ever since the advent of the printing press, text has been the primary form of communication and we have been living in what is known as a print culture. But this came under siege in the 1900s, as both the amount of information increased and its rate of communication sped up dramatically. Printed text can no longer keep up, and in order to accommodate the wealth and speed of information, images -- which are read more quickly -- are moving in as a communication tool to complement if not supercede words. Cf. McCloud, Uncerstanding Comics, pg. 58: "As the twenty-first century approaches, visual iconography may finally help us realize a form of universal communication."

In my last conversation with Will, two weeks before he died, he said he had been blessed to spend his life working in a medium he loved.

For more information:

  • www.willeisner.com
  • Will Eisner: A Spirited Life by Bob Andelman
  • Eisner/Miller, a book-length interview between Will Eisner and Frank Miller

Diana Schutz is Executive Editor for Dark Horse Comics, an award-winning editor she has worked with such notables as WILL EISNER, STAN SAKAI, MATT WAGNER, MICHAEL CHABON, FRANK MILLER, and NEIL GAIMAN. As an educator she has taught comics history and criticism at Portland Community College.

Worst. Page. Ever.

| No Comments | No TrackBacks

Ivan Brunetti is currently on the faculty of Columbia College Chicago, where he teaches classes on comics, drawing, and design. Here he shares one of his newer assignments from his comic classes.

By Ivan Brunetti

This assignment works best as a long exercise during class, as opposed to homework. It also works best after the students have drawn at least one full page of comics, with a varied layout (ideally, this would have been the assignment they turned in that week). If so, they can use that comic as a starting point for this exercise.

Usually, we try to do the best we can, and we strive to make our comics page better. But are we really thinking about ALL of the things we can do to make it better? More often than not, when we are learning to construct comics, there are facets, aspects, and subtleties of the medium that we are not focusing on, ignoring, or simply unaware of.

It is probably easy for us to make a list of things that go into a "good" comic, but if we examine that list closely, it might be vague; often students will say a page is "well done" without being able to articulate any specific reason why that might be the case. The list will also likely be incomplete; is it really possible to make a complete list of "ingredients," and even if it is, are we ignoring the gestalt over the details? Also, it is highly probable that one student's ideas of '"the right way to do it" directly conflict or contradict another student's ideas. Something "good" on one's list may be "bad" on another's. And so we get into questions of taste, and artist's intentions.

Let us try approaching these issues from the opposite direction.

Have the students make a list of everything that can be done badly in a comic. Try to think of every possible aspect of comics. Usually students focus mostly on presentation, especially sloppiness. But is that all? Have the class discuss the finer points of panel transitions, compositions within panels and on the page as a whole, dialogue and word balloons, telling instead of showing, narrative flow, and anything else you/ they can come up with. The trick is to get as specific as possible.

Then, have the students take a story (preferably one page) that they have drawn, and instead of trying to make it better, have them redraw it and make it worse. In fact, have them try to make it the worst page ever. Have them do as many things "wrong" as possible, both in the writing and drawing.

Have them hand it in at the end of class, and then do a critique if there is time, or just do the critique the following week. It's always nice to compare the pages to the "good" ones they already have done, but not absolutely necessary.

Are there some "bad" pages that are actually kind of interesting, with some strange and maybe unique approaches? Could those aspects be used for good, if they were intentional? Often the students take similar approaches both in their "good" and "bad" pages because of ingrained habits they are not even aware of.

Was it even possible to make the "worst page ever"? Once you actually put thought and planning into something, how bad can it be? Many times, the students are able to consider the page as a "whole" and the individual parts of it being "of a piece" in a way that they couldn't see when they were focused only on technique or details.

Naturally, the insights gained from this exercise will differ from class to class; the trick is to get the students to think holistically, and to see how a page comes together into unified whole. And that any effect can be used well (or not well), which usually depends on the intention of the artist, and the control, thought, and planning they put into those effects. Finally, it is always nice to embrace the unexpected. Students may try things they'd be too "afraid" of doing otherwise. They may even "loosen up" and stumble upon some visual effects both in terms of technique and even psychology that they can use when they go back to drawing the very best pages they can.

Ivan Brunetti is an American cartoonist and author. Brunetti's best known comic work is collected in his Ignazt Award winning series Schizo. He is also the editor of the two volume set An Anthology of Graphic Fiction, Cartoons, and True Stories (2006, 2008, Yale University Press.) He is currently on the faculty of Columbia College Chicago, where he teaches classes on comics, drawing, and design.

Will Eisner

| No Comments | No TrackBacks

By Paul Karasik

Each year in late July at the largest comics convention in the world, the San Diego Con, the industry bestows awards for the best comics of the preceding year, the Eisner Awards. Like all Arts awards, the Eisners wrestle for resolution between the poles of Commerce and Art. The Eisner Awards could not possibly be more aptly named.


Will Eisner (1917-2005) was a great cartoonist, but he was also a shrewd businessman with his finger on the throbbing erratic pulse of popular culture trying to predict, maneuver, and exploit the next trend given his very specific set of skills. He spent his life wrestling with those demanding twins, Art and Commerce.

In 1936 when he was 19 Eisner had his first professional work published in "WOW What A Magazine!", one of the first comic books to publish new work in the format we are familiar with today. As he put it in an interview in 1984, "Pulp magazines were dying and pulp publishers were looking for other popular publishing ventures, and so comics represented that opportunity."

Eisner himself never missed an opportunity. Overnight dozens of new comic book titles and publishers erupted to mine the bonanza begun by the 1938 publication of Superman in Action Comics. Simultaneously all these publishers were putting out beefy 52 page comic books. They needed stories and art and they needed them last week.

Eisner and his partner, Jerry Iger, formed a company to package the guts of comic books and sell them to various publishers based on a very simple and sound method perfected by Henry Ford: the assembly line. Each page in the bullpen studio was literally handed from writer, to penciler, to letterer, to inker, to colorist with Eisner gripping his non-repro blue pencil at the end of the conveyor belt.

"There again," Eisner continued, "it was a question of seizing the opportunity. There was a need and I attempted to supply it."

Eisner and Iger, made a small fortune in a short time but soon Eisner saw another opportunity in an offer to publish a Sunday newspaper insert comic book. He sold his share of the bullpen to Iger and for the next ten years, Eisner created the weekly stories of the barely-costumed crimefighter, The Spirit.

Each Spirit story is a tidy, crisp 8-page package of satisfying storytelling. Often Eisner was able to pull off the trick of creating tales that were all at once funny, sad, clever, revealing about the human capacity for greed and compassion...and fun to read! Week after week in The Spirit Eisner delivered the goods. He had to. Working under a deadline and with a group of sizzling assistants (including a young Jules Feiffer) fired-up by Eisner's perspicacity, the best Spirit stories crackle.

These Noir-ish picaresque tales have a jazzy sense of New York humor. Eisner drew it as he knew it. A main character in most of Eisner's work is the City itself, providing untold opportunities to run rivers of ink down garbage-strewn alleys creating deep perspective and threatening shadows.

Eisner was influenced by films he had seen in the 30's, He populates his stories with wise-cracking tough-as-nails guys'n'dolls concealing their hearts of gold or sludge within a rat-tat-tat mise en scene. His smart framing and vertigo-inducing point of view was also pure Warner Brothers. And my God, did the man like to draw rain.

One of the primary tasks of the cartoonist is to control the path of the reader's eye as it absorbs the comics page. A master can control the speed of the eyeball, plant hidden subcontexts and symbols through the zigs and zags of a given page until the cornea lands at the magic lower right-hand panel where (if the cartoonist has done his job) the mind is helplessly held under a vexing spell compelled to turn the page, turn the page, turn the page. At this Eisner was, indeed, a master.

In fact, in the first major U.S. comics exhibition (Hammer Museum, 2005) Eisner was chosen as one of the nine Masters of American Comics. Yet almost all of the works displayed were Spirit pages, work done before Eisner was 35.

Nothing else that he was to do in his long career had the lasting impact of The Spirit.

Eisner explained in a 1983 interview (in terms only a cartoonist would cite) that in his youth, "It was not uncommon for those of us who were doing comic books, when we went to a cocktail party, we'd say we did illustrations. ...If you said comic books, some nice lady would stand there and say, Oh, really? This is in very small letters in a large balloon, and then she'd say, How nice. Second pause. And go off somewhere else."

He carried that four-colored newsprint chip on his shoulder into old age. Eisner did not want to be remembered solely as the creator of the jaunty Spirit. For most of the 1950's through the 60's he held a contract with the U.S. Army to produce instructional comics for the digest-sized P.S. Magazine. If anyone could teach a G.I. how to care for his M16 it was this master of eye-ball control...plus, he could draw dames. Much later Eisner (again seizing the precise market moment) would write several "How To Cartoon" books. Opportunity knocks and there was Eisner.

Often touted as the first American "graphic novel", Eisner's book length "A Contract with God" 1978 (actually a group of thematically entwined short stories) led the way for longer non-genre based comics books that we see today. Knock-knock.

In the recently reprinted City Books (Norton, 2008) stories done late in his life, Eisner used all of his considerable storytelling might to create "mature" stories. The irony is that he had become reliant on outdated stock characters from the Warner Brothers lot, melodramatic situations and, well, irony.

Over and over again in the City Books cliched characters get trounced by predators and misfits, but most of all by Fate giving them a drubbing they often do not deserve. Eisner would love to have been dubbed the "Dreiser of Comics" but he should have been quite content to be the "Eisner of Comics".

Still, a cartoonist-in-training would do well to study these late pages. In his exodus from the lowbrow comic book ghetto, Eisner left behind those trademark straight-ruled panel borders that smack of "comics", forcing him to find alternative graphic methods to drag the readers' eyeball across the page. Windowsills, tunnels, doorframes, and smoke are all used to define spaces and frame action. The sheer inventiveness of the work on a page-by-page level is remarkable. Yet sometimes, due to the extreme shifts in layout from one page to the next, the reader may be unsure when turning a page if it is still the same story.

In interviews, Eisner often proselytized about the power of comics-as-literature. Unfortunately in trying to make comics-as-literature he failed (as he had succeeded at so brilliantly with The Spirit) at making comics-as-art.

This article first appeared in the Time of London, July 18th, 2008.

Paul Karasik's work has appeared in The New Yorker and Nickelodeon magazine. A former associate editor of Art Spiegelman's RAW, he is co-creator of the prize-winning graphic adaptation of Paul Auster's City of Glass. He is co-author of "The Ride Together," and edited the Eisner Award winning "I Shall Destroy All The Civilized Planets." As an educator he has taught Comics Narrative at The School of Visual Arts in New York City and The Rhode Island School of Design as well as the Scuola di Comics Internazionale

The Hero High Above The City

| No Comments | No TrackBacks

By Frenchy Lunning

The lone hero caught in a dilemma... whether this image of loneliness says something about masculinity as a whole... It is a powerful image of male alienation... there is a basic clash between bourgeois civilization and men. Roger Horrocks, Male Myths and Icons

It was always like this: Batman was standing high and still above Gotham, his cape unfurled and lifted by the power of the city, the updraft of heat, lights and conflict. His profile imposing a masterful image in the night sky, his masculinity magnificently displayed: dark and mysterious, yet filled with a sense of potential: of power and sexuality. I was too young to be aware of the rumors of his homosexuality: his relationship to Robin I revered as one of father/protector. All I knew was the sense of 'lift' I felt when I gazed on my hero high above the city: a mixture of admiration, inspiration, a budding sexuality and something else. That something else had to do with something higher, larger in scale, more abstract. I understood that it had harkened to a finer sense of leadership, and of manhood. It is that 'something else' that has become the focus of my research and thinking about many things, including superhero comics. It became a sort of quest to discover the power of the superhero, especially in that stance above the city.

The City

It was very apparent that the city itself had a lot to do with it. Views of the city are common in comic books from the Golden Age to the present. It was there that the superhero was born as an expression of desire for an urban hero. The essential seat of his existence and power is in the city. Because the superhero narrative has as its primary narrative goal the saving of a populace and the restoration of peace and justice, cities are the ultimate location for successive plot potentials: people and property provide incentives for action. But it is the scale of the city that provides the most dramatic landscape and becomes illustrative of the scale of the superhero's teleological task and provides the most poignant moment of identification for the reader: the human figure against the ground of the most significant modern image of human culture, the city.

It was also clear that the views of the city that were charged with the most significance, were of the lone superhero, caught in a dilemma, perched above the city in order to gain the larger perspective. The city is the great symbol of the aggregate of peoples and practices. As Scott Bukatman states:

Identity in the city is a costume drama. The presentation of self in everyday life in the inner city is a form of theatre where identity is role and entropy is high... in the city we can change our identities at will... its discontinuity favors both instant heroes and instant villains... The condition of the city and the condition of the subject become 'identical.' (Bukatman, 1993)

It is an intersection of all the discourses of history packed in a single great knot. It is as close to a literal articulation of its meanings as any other symbol one might consider. The city is paradoxical: it is at once both monumental and scale-less as we lose our sense of reference and position within its immensity (Bukatman, 1993). In its symbolic form, the city represents the fragmented, constantly deferring polyglot of discourses and identities. There is no stable foothold, no smooth clean surface upon which to site/cite; instead, it is a surface whose graffiti has been worked and re-worked by a thousand different voices and hands. It is the place where all can be known and yet few are recognized, where in an enormous public the experience is of the private, and where potential and utter failure swivel in an instant.

In comic books of the Golden and Silver Ages, the city was usually depicted as a spotless modern city with smooth surfaces and clean lines. It radiated prosperity, newness and progress. I remember Superman comics with Superman doing his super-thing in the foreground, and behind him a shining city of lights and gridded monoliths with a pale-blue cloudless sky beyond, an image of progress and order as the foundation of our utopian understanding of the human community. With the onset of the Modern Age of comic books, with its predominance of the somewhat sinister, brooding, dark superhero, came the transformation of the city from its gleaming modernism to a dark, gothic postmodernism. The city became the outer sign of a changing paradigm in culture. Frequently presented as a decaying labyrinth of ruined buildings, litter and debris from layers of desperate habitation, and perpetually wet, mean streets; this gothic city revealed our frantic anxiety towards contemporary attitudes on the potential of a dense human community traveling through change at warp speed (Bukatman, 1993). Something was rotten, and it was manifested in the dire signification of decay and chaos.

It becomes apparent that the view from above is now a space of contemplation and mediation. As a bubble of introspection in the narrative, the superhero confronts problems, prepares for action or considers alternatives, but always as a moment frozen from the trajectory of the story. Daredevil frequently represents the most common representation of the superhero above the city. He zooms through the air, exulting in his super abilities to soar above the city. The ground of the city is in a sepia tone and his red figure, flexed in the midst of a somersault. The cord is drawn in a dynamic and expressive mode to indicate the agility and rapidity of Daredevil's movements against the momentary staid and static reality of the city below. In a later scene, Daredevil is pondering an ethical decision he must make which would require him to kill someone - a baby. It illuminates the superhero's isolation and alienation as the only one who 'knows:' the only one who can make things right, and the one who might pay a price in terms of his humanity.

Poor old Spawn, also tends to linger moodily above the city at night, He perches on the cross atop a steeple of a church. As ambivalent hell spawn, the irony of his chosen site is clear: the juxtaposition of his reality as a thing from hell and his location on top of a church articulate the nature of his dilemma. He is a man in profound psychic trouble, seeking his past identity at the same time as he realizes it is no longer who him. In another postmodern representation of the fragmentation of his identity, we see aspects of Spawn's memory and his nascent identity as snapshots of images over his red cape and mask drifting above the city. At the bottom of the image is an hourglass, whose lower globe is burst, expelling the sands of time: Spawn's past, although present only in memory, has flown into the ether.

In The Dark Knight Returns, Batman propels himself into the city with a leap of a vicious wrestler. Lit from the city below, Batman appears to have come out of a vague darkness into the light of definition. He is a powerful, animal-like presence who pounces into the city to attack the bad guys. He is massive in scale in relation to the city, and his pose is intimidating and sinister. Batman, in this "dark knight" persona is pessimistic and cynical, especially as regards his fellow citizenry. He regards criminals as vermin, and scoffs at the idea that criminals might be redeemable. His response to crime is immediate, extremely violent, and to the death: much as a predator with prey. Rather than a place of potential, Batman regards the city to be invested with vermin and a sink-hole of corruption.

The Utopian Position

The superhero is lone, isolated and alienated by the condition of his duality - potent as the superhero, yet haunted by his humanity. He seeks a position from which to gain a broader view of the polis, and it is within this gaze that much of this phenomenon is understood. As Bukatman notes, "much of the pleasure results from continual transformations of scale and perspective... a sense of atmospheric haze: the effect is a stunning redefinition of scale... the transgression of a scalar perspective" (Bukatman, 1993). But there are two levels of gazing in operation. We acknowledge the superhero's gaze cast out across the city. But in the moment of his gaze, we apprehend the full potency of his act. There is an archetypal triad in this romantic depiction; the lone man against the night sky, the yawning vastness of twinkling dots of light on massive dark geometric mountains and our profound desire to see this image.

Jameson states that science fiction "is defined by the display of the totalizing gaze which reveals the entire city in a single action of vision and description" and regards "utopias as privileged discursive objects because they permit the emergence of cultural anxieties" (Bukatman, 1993). Do the cities of the superhero comic book qualify as utopias? Certainly the city of Transmetropolitan would, despite its grotty density and its overpopulation. It is a city where regardless of humanity's predilection for prejudice and violence, something can be done once and a while. Even though it might be considered a long ethical and moral fall from previous modernist utopian literature, there is a distinct whiff of optimism in Transmetropolitan. Spider Jerusalem is relentlessly defiant in a culture that demands compliance. He runs against the grain on matters of moral conflict regardless of the cost to his person. Is this a utopia? Bukatman, in discussing similar aspects of science fiction film, draws the distinction that makes the point, at least in Spider's case: "film... has staged a passage from ontological certainty to uncertainty, centering on the relation between utopia and human definition... there is a utopia to be found in film... [and] that lies in being human" (Bukatman, 1993). The position of the superhero perched above the city evokes its own location in utopia - not as an ideal plan, or even in being simply human, since he necessarily he is so much more, but in the stance so reminiscent of Ernst Bloch's aufrechter Gang, the 'upright gait' in its simple acknowledgment of the potential human potentiality: "the utopian is not finally any one place of time, but the capacity to see afresh... which appears to open up possibilities rather than close down alternatives" (Armitt, 1996).

Kingdom Come utilizes the city as a significant aspect of its discourse. In the initial exposition of information, the Spectre draws back a celestial curtain to reveal Keystone City from above, glowing in the night with a thin red strip lacing around the city - the trail of the Flash. Spectre comments to McCay:

"In the time of Superman's absence, Keystone City has become a utopia - a protectorate relentlessly patrolled by a gale force once human... He is the Flash" (Waid, 1997).

The 'Flash,' a Golden Age hero much beloved then as now, was the reason for the reawakening of superhero narratives in the Silver Age. In this sense, he is the 'guardian angel' of superhero comic books. The city in this narrative is a stage set for the plot structure of humans regaining control of their world from renegade superhumans. The Spectre refers to the city as a 'utopia,' a site of ideal relationships between individual rights and responsibilities in an ideal balance with those of the community. In an interesting counter of images, two views of Superman returning to save the far-from-utopian city occur. Above, Superman makes his comeback debut magnificently with a load of bad guys in his hands. The view of Superman is from below, looking up at his now classic stance, red cape flowing behind a solid male body and a stern face. He seems very close in view, but he also seems to hang in space. There is no city visible to ground this event. He drifts in the blue sky. This top image is a baroque composition of the celestial bodies of superheroes in the throes of battle. In the bottom panel we see the same superheroes on patrol in the city from a distinctly child's eye view. From the child's perspective, the city frames the superheroes, defining their scale and position as those who are above the community. This sequence of images frames for the reader the essential problem of the story, and suggests its resolution.

Finally, Spider Jerusalem of Transmetropolitan, presents the most current shift in the position of the superhero in regards to the city and the people inside it. Spider stands above the city - except it is a view from within his apartment window looking out and down. He stands in a dense clutter of cultural crud and detritus. Outside his window he gestures to more 'stuff:' advertising, people, cars, dogs, and trash. Instead of a contemplation of his inner angst, he looks out to the reader with a sly grin in acknowledgment of our united experience. He identifies with us as we identify with him. On the next and final page, Spider is down with the people of the city who, we have learned, are in the process of transcending humanity with an interracial mixing of species: alien and human. The adaptation of alien eyes are the dead giveaway to an alien parentage. Spider's superhero eyeglasses pay homage to the transformation of the culture, as well as his acceptance and ready identification with this change in the city.

The Superhero

As Bukatman suggests: "These hypothetical civilizations represent the fruition of the human drive for immortality, but immortality is accompanied by (is predicated on) the complete supersession of sexuality and decay - the supersession of our very organism" (Bukatman, 1993). The "hypothetical civilizations" are the terrain of the superhero narrative. The boundaries of this terrain gesture towards shared community experiences and the larger issues of ethics and belief. It stands to reason, that a focus on the superhero himself must be examined to fully appreciate and comprehend the structure of the discursive web of the superhero position above the city. His story is formulaic, with an origin story and a specific set of transformations that move the narrative through time and space, and produce the desired effects at the proper points. As Armitt notes: "all literary structures are entirely dependent upon the centrality of metamorphic transformations, being secondary explanations of an original phantasy which has no fixed or final form" (Armitt, 1996). The superhero comic book narrative follows the trajectory of the "drive for immortality" or the desire for transcendence. That trajectory begins with the superhero himself as man and as symbol.

As we dig into the Superhero's story, we discover clues to his bifurcation into light and dark expressions of an idealized masculinity. Todorov points to a variation in the literature of fantasy that has become a key variation in the Modern Age, in that there are: "two principal tendencies of literature: the comic, which reconciles the hero with society; and the tragic, which isolates him from it" (Todorov, 1973). This description profiles the 'dark' and the 'light' superheroes as well as their respective narratives. These descriptions seem to have been, in the Golden and Silver Ages, mutually exclusive. The current depiction of the superhero is becoming progressively more complex and 'realistic'. Their complexity indicates the complexity of the masculine narrative in culture. As Horrocks points out: "It has been observed that the strenuousness of the masculine identities is a pointer, not to their solidity, but their fragility; to be a mucho hombre is not a birthright but an accomplishment won and maintained with pain and difficulty" (Horrocks, 1995). The superhero narrative is the story of the struggle to define the masculine in a web of radically altered identities and conditions. It is also a narrative that seeks transcendence through confrontation with the power of sex and death in its various manifestations, at the same time as it restores and re-stabilizes the status quo. The transcendent aspect of the superhero's narrative, with its codes of civic and spiritual events attempts to extend the discourse of the superhero and lay it upon a larger-scaled map.

The routes to transcendence in culture have been historically related to the only moments of transcendence considered possible to human beings: sexual orgasm and death, through the rituals of eroticism and sacrifice. Bataille suggests that "Sexuality and death both deny or even destroy the sense of self that must be preserved, but both reconnect the subject to the larger continuities that are always present, albeit forcefully repressed. Sex and death produce a dissolution of the subject on one level, but produce a synthesis on another. This is the paradox... the crisis of existence" (Bukatman, 1993). This is also transcendence. But it is a transcendence that is scripted by the culture, heavily laden with taboos, conditions, and codes. The "larger continuities" lie in the continuation of existence of certain phenomena; things in the universe that seemingly do not die and therefore have accumulated particular discourse around them. The inexplicability of their existence allows cultural discourse to develop a coating of mystery and mysticism around them and links them to transcendent narratives. Our position as dissolute and fragmented identities suggests that we seek unity through transcendence by identification with that which is outside ourselves that we recognize as fulfilling in terms of our lack. In comic books, it is through the superhero's experience of sexuality and violent sacrifice that we apprehend his relation to our society.

The violence of the superhero is almost always sacrificial in nature. It is a sacrifice of his inner sense of justice and righteousness, to eliminate the 'bad guys' and reset the balance of goodness in society. Killing is wrong, but the superhero kills or damages at his own mortal and moral peril. We experience simultaneously both the horror of the sacrifice and the eroticism of the visual display of the continuity of life. We thrill not only in his torment but in his strength to do "what must be done." The notion of responsibility is viewed as the ultimate task of the superhero's journey, and is consequently the major plot aspect of most superhero narratives.

Transcendence, then, in a utopian sense, must refer to those elements in comic book text and image that point away from the personal narrative towards the universal. The preponderance of narrative aspects such as the city, religion, responsibility, and the apocalypse refers to the contextual cultural condition of the narrative. It represents part of the constellation of discourses that the superhero is positioned to confront and overcome, with the proviso that he performs the task of acting as our agent in favor of society: which is to be protected, upheld, stated, and reinstated. Comic books generally take a conservative world-view in this regard. A conservative world view, does not define a political position as such, but is opposed to a 'transformative world view.' By this notion of conservatism, we can recognize the common comic book narrative convention of a restoration of a society to its previous state as a major factor in the plot structure. It honors a societal condition that has been historical and has particular elements that signify a 'good society' and is recognized as valuable to the superhero, whose job is to either restore that society, if it has been lost, or to prevent it from being destroyed in the first place.

Both Transmetroplitan and V for Vendetta storylines promote transformative world-views. Transmetropolitan discusses the civil rights of a mixed race of alien/human beings, and works towards transforming the existing culture that will be enriched and enhanced by the inclusion of these people in the mainstream culture. V for Vendetta literally explodes the existing fascist culture because of the systematic policy of ethnic and sexual cleansing. The force of the storyline is the destruction of the existing culture, with only an implied hope of a more democratic system to be put in its place. Either way, it is the superhero who is the focus for transformative power and change in his society. The image of the hero high above the city is the signal for that event in the narrative, and always has been. It is his key moment, and we recognize it through the extremes of scale, the city as a symbol of society, and, as a recovering patriarchal culture, through the pivoting potentials of masculine sexuality and death in the profile of the superhero.

The 'Something Else'

So what about that 'something else' I detected as a child? I think that it belongs to a moment rarely identified, in the notion of the 'social contract.' It is a theory that projects an illusory moment when free individuals voluntarily subsume their freedom in favor of a contract establishing the basic political, civil and moral principles of a society. This contract "aims to legitimize these principles by invoking the notion of consent. Through consent the contract lays claim to a form of authority which is derived from the agreement of those who undertake to be bound by it" (Edgar, Sedgwick, 2002). The issue of the rights of the autonomous individual versus the rights of the many is the bedrock of concern for the nature of our social order as a human community. How that issue is presented: how it is designed, drawn and written is the image we have of who we are and what we stand for in our society. The hero high above the city represents that moment of decision: in the tense dichotomy between the hero as the individual and the hero as a symbol of our collective desire for stability, safety and happiness, the superhero is lifted aloft as our representative. Even as he descends back into his formulaic narrative, he retains that aura as the sign(er) of the social contract. He is 'super' because he is more than a hero: he is the enactment of our most essential agreement. He has sacrificed his position as an individual to become a symbol of our most profound collective desires for an ideal society. His masked identity as a superhero becomes his dominant identity, and his everyday human self the mask of his true meaning.

In his utopian work the Republic, Plato discusses the philosopher-kings, who, because they are rational beings hold a true knowledge of what is good, and will lead society towards a perfect social order: "On Plato's account, the highest form of cultural life is envisioned as being realizable through the elucidation of a model of human nature which reflects the order of objective reality and reason" (Edgar, Sedgwick, 2002). Though we no longer hold the exclusive goals of "objective reality and reason," the superhero's projection as a "model of human nature" stands as the highest expression of cultural life. The comic book superhero as a model of cultural form is currently being recognized for its unique power. The predominance of superhero stories and screenplays in popular culture is telling. In a time when the fundamental morals and goals in our society are in great dispute, and our social order is convulsed in change, the need for a model of human nature appropriate to the time is extreme.

And what of the superhero? What is the nature of his sacrifice? Robert Blauner, a social psychologist, begins to explain more fully the position of the hero high above the city as one of alienation. He described alienation as the condition of the subjective experience of modern life, particularly in cities. He describes four forms of this alienation as: powerlessness, meaninglessness, isolation and self-estrangement (Edgar, Sedgwick, 2002), and likened them to the condition of the exile. We can see this clearly in the anguish of our superheroes, exiled to the tops of buildings: Spiderman's isolation and longing, Spawn's lack of a sense of identity and loneliness, Superman's acknowledgement of his alien status, and of course Batman's fundamental psychosis which estranges the self from its true identity. The sacrifice of the superhero is his alienation not only from society, even as he symbolizes its ideal profile, but also from his self. In the recognition of this sacrifice, that even a child comprehends, is a by-product that is the gift of society in recognition of sacrifice, and that is honor.

It is honor that was that 'something else' I saw in Batman. It is a concept that has lost much of its power in a society that promotes heroism to an everyday media event. Yet it is a rare and unique quality that is absolutely essential to notions of a fully recognized masculinity. The superhero has, since the mid-twentieth century, articulated a boiler-plate definition of honor from the context of the times. From his marginalized position, the comic book superhero has continued to express an idealized masculinity as a position of a deep sense of right and wrong, with an integrity and adherence to those ethics in the face of death. Though sometimes trivialized in terms of narrative by a marketing strategy towards juvenilia, the superhero retains - in all his narratives - his imperative to present a profile of honor. Notions of the city, social contracts, aspects of masculinity and utopia are condensed in a discursive web that is codified in that most meaningful image in comic books: the hero high above the city.


  • Armitt, Lucie. (1996). Theorising the Fantastic. New York: Arnold.
  • Bataille, Georges. (1986). Eroticism: Death and Sensuality. (Mary Dalwood, Trans.). San Francisco:     City Lights Books. (Originally published in 1957).
  • Bukatman, Scott. (1993). Terminal Identity: The Virtual Subject in Postmodern Science Fiction.  Durham: Duke University Press.
  • Horrocks, Roger. (1995). Male Myths and Icons: Masculinity in Popular Culture. New York: St. Martin's Press, Inc.
  • McFarlane, Todd. (1992/1998). Spawn: Book I. Fullerton, California: Image Comics.
  • Miller, Frank, Klaus Janson & Lynn Varley. (1996). The Dark Knight Returns. New York: DC Comics. (Originally published as Vols. 1-4, in 1986).
  • Smith, Kevin, Joe Quesada, & Jimmy Palmiotti. (1998, 1999). Daredevil. New York: Marvel Comics. (Originally published as Vol. 2, 1-3).
  • Todorov, Tzvetan. (1975). The Fantastic: A Structural Approach to a Literary Genre. (Richard Howard, Trans.). Ithaca, New York: Cornell University Press.
  • Waid, Mark and Alex Ross. (1997). Kingdom Come. New York: DC Comics

Frenchy Lunning is a Professor of Liberal Arts at the Minneapolis College of Art and Design, a Fulbright scholar; and researcher and Editor-in-Chief of Mechademia, an academic journal on Japanese anime, manga and popular culture; and is co-director of SGMS: Schoolgirls and Mobilesuits: Culture and Creation in Manga and Anime, an annual workshop at the Minneapolis College of Art and Design.

By Diana Green, MaLS

When discussions between comic theorists are heard, the name "Eisner" is bandied about with such abandon that the name seems almost synonymous with comics theory. Indeed, there is a specific aesthetic associated with the name. Stories are often casually called "Esineresque". It's become akin to "liberal" or "lifestyle", in that it's a concept used so frequently as to have its meaning obscured by its ubiquity in popular parlance.

While in clear agreement with Eisner's significance as a creator and theorist, I think it prudent to scrutinize such claims more specifically. There are numerous works on which one can easily draw. B.C. Boyer's The Masked Man is clearly intended as a Spirit pastiche, though this comes through more in the writing than in the art (Boyer). Conversely, Mike Ploog's work shows clear stylistic influences from Eisner, notably in character design, due in no small part to his apprenticeship under Eisner (Normanton). However, this stylistic influence is, for the most part, restricted to the art and tends not to carry over into story structure and plot.

There are creators whose work reflects the visual, narrative and thematic elements that often define Eisner's vision. Two noteworthy examples are Jerry Grandinetti's Case Files of Dr. Drew and Michael T. Gilbert's The Wraith.

The former, Dr. Drew, originally appeared in Fiction House's Ranger Comics from 1949 to 1951, spanning twelve stories. These stories were created shortly after Grandenetti's time inking Eisner in 1946-1948.

A ghost hunter and occasional debunker by trade, the title character served as narrator as well. All Dr. Drew stories are past tense and first person. Thematically, the Dr. Drew stories echoed the more noir styled and Gothic elements of some Spirit stories, though usually lacking the urban motif that dominated the Spirit stories. In keeping with the Gothic trope, Dr. Drew's adventures centered largely on his base, a "castle atop Bone Hill" (Normanton). A notable exception, the first Dr. Drew story melds the two concepts, offering an urban horror story of a haunted building (Karswell).

DG 01.png

With an atypical splash page, the first Dr. Drew story begins with direct narration by the central character. This borderless page with its stark lighting (note that the on-panel light source, the match used to light the pipe, is the brightest point on the page) is subdivided into four distinct areas: the doctor himself, the castle overlapped by the series title, the hill leading down to the ominous skyscraper in the foreground, the only clearly defined building on the cityscape. It should be noted that this style of cityscape rendering, defined by soft outline and vertical hatch, appears more frequently in later, more experimental Eisner work than with the Spirit. In this sense, Grandenetti may have foreshadowed Eisner's subsequent work. The title in a file folder culminates the page. Similar visual devices were used in other Dr. Drew stories, such as the use of clipboard pages as title and framing devices in Stalker of the Unknown (Rangers Comics).

Page two has a framing sequence set apart, paradoxically, by being out of frame. The first panel is open, a device used to slow narrative flow. Panel two uses trompe l'oleil to force the viewer to enter the depth of the space alongside the characters.The claustrophobic feeling is reinforced by the cast shadows of the window frame on the coat of the nameless young man. As on page one, the light from the pipe draws the viewer back to Dr. Drew, this time in the foreground.

DG 02.png

The remainder of the page uses an Eisner device sometimes called a metapanel, in which several images are contained within a larger image as a framing device (Eisner). Frequently used by Eisner, this device serves to unify separate moments within a larger continuity. The five irregular panels within the framing device of the file folder (a recurring visual motif, another device of Eisner's, though hardly one to which he has sole claim) tell the back-story within the back-story, a device used by Eisner in numerous Spirit stories, including Lorelei Rox, September 19, 1948 (Eisner 2).

Page three continues the visual device of the file folder, leading out of the flashback and returning to Dr. Drew's narrative. The remainder of this page is comparatively straightforward, using conventions such as stark lighting and the canted angle of the newspaper article to lead the viewer through the page. The most dramatic visual element is the high shot of the elevator shaft, an extension of the angle in the preceding panel. However, a typographic device typical of Eisner appears in panels five and six. The use of typed text for caption narration once again reinforces the notion of the story coming from an actual case file.

DG 03.png

The next remarkable layout device appears on page 7 of the story. A different visual device slows the pacing, the slice panels at the top of the page. This is followed by a deceptively simple two shot, offset by a canted shadow framing both the elevator door and the characters. This disorienting canted shadow theme recurs throughout the rest of the page and is offset by an inversion, with a canted area of white in the bottom left panel.

DG 04.png

More significantly, the trio of panels in the center tier shifts the reader's focus to the supporting character by using the inset of the middle panel as a transitional device.

The final page of the story uses the slice panels overlaid on the full-page shot of the building collapsing to reinforce the story's primary theme, the haunted building. This page is also noteworthy for the lack of visual sound effects in relation to the building's explosion. Dave Gibbons used this device in Alan Moore's Watchmen (Moore, Gibbons), with remarkable effect.

DG 05.png

This story holds remarkable stylistic parallel to an Eisner Spirit story. While Grandenetti was an assistant to Eisner early in his career and revered his mentor (Normanton), Grandenetti was trying to expand the visual vocabulary he learned from Eisner and make it his own. During a phone interview on January 17, 2009, Grandenetti stated that his goal was to advance his own storytelling capabilities, rather than to replicate those of Eisner (Grandenetti). He succeeded in this goal, and continued his comic career into the early 1970s, working primarily for DC, Tower and Warren (Fears).

In the late 1970s, Mike Frederich of Star Reach approached Michael T. Gilbert about contributing to the fledgling funny animal anthology Quack! Following on the heels of Marvel's success with 1976's Howard the Duck (Fox) and predating Reed Waller's Omaha by two years (http://www.omahathecatdancer.com), Quack! was an attempt to stretch the boundaries of the funny animal genre. Fascinated by The Spirit, Gilbert seized on the idea of a funny animal version of the character, known only as The Wraith. Utilizing visual devices and a witty tone that echoed Eisner, Gilbert created a total of seven Wraith stories. Six ran in Quack! The seventh appeared in an anthology of Gilbert's work titled Strange Brew, published in 1983 by Aardvark-Vanaheim (Wildwood Cemetery: The Spirit Database).


The Wraith differs from Dr. Drew in several ways. First, there is a more deliberate attempt to use Eisner's visual devices as homage. This is not to say that Gilbert did not innovate. His splash page for the first Wraith story used the Eisner trope of the series name/character's name as visual device. 

However, the use of the clothesline as vehicle for said title shows another aspect of The Spirit that Gilbert captures: the light, more approachable aspect of the character. Much is made of The Spirit as a dark, gritty, almost noir character. In truth, The Spirit was often human and lighthearted, occasionally serving as a narrator or vehicle for commentary. The gentle, almost meditative tone taken by Gilbert in The Wraith stories is as much of a piece with Eisner's Spirit as are Gilbert's layouts.


This panel from the first Wraith story shows many Eisner touches. The gruff inspector, the bemused detective, the character's gesture echoing the line of the rooftop and leading the viewer through the panel- all Einser-esque flourishes. The foreshadowing of the silhouetted character in the window is also an Eisner device, though again not unique to Eisner.

Inclined to direct homage, Gilbert named The Wraith's sidekick Ivory Snow, in response to the Spirit's sidekick Ebony White (Gilbert).

Possibly the most challenging Wraith story, The Reality Ray from Quack! #5 deals with notion of reflexivity directly.

This plot device gives Gilbert immense flexibility to explore the medium. Starting with a unique cover image, the drawn central characters superimposed on a photo collage of wild animal images, the story proceeds to a chiaroscuro splash page.  The words The Wraith are repeated in a staggered pattern, reversed out of a field of black. A silhouette of the villain at a typewriter, also reversed out, is set in a truncated circle in the lower left corner.

As the story proceeds, the mood darkens further. The Wraith is in mourning for a lost (deceased) love. Ivory delivers a letter. Her attempts to jostle him out of his malaise fail. This reaches its peak on page five, a nine-panel page bordered in black. The page contains a tense dialogue between the two, culminating in a silent panel.

Ivory reads him the letter. He refuses to act on its threat, a confused message regarding ominous "creatures" seen in Cyanide City, The Wraith's home, recently. Irate, she decides to proceed without him. He sits hiding behind a magazine as she leaves. The panel in question is an inset circle, repeating the device used on the splash page.

The following page is set up like a classic funny animal page from the Forties, a uniform 3 x 4 panel grid. For the first ten panels, the Wraith is shot full frame, unmoving till panel ten. He then throws aside his magazine. His actions in panels eleven and twelve are amplified by a change of focus, going from full figure to tight shots of his hands as he grabs the letter (panel 11) and his coat and gloves (panel 12).

He meditative lethargy of the preceding pages is broken by a revitalization of the layout on page 7. Using a page height 1/3 page shot of The Wraith running through the snow on the left side, Gilbert's layout advances the action rapidly. This occurs despite the dialogue-heavy page. As The Wraith and the inspector make their way to the address, figures of the Egyptian god Anubis, eagles, and grinning tribal icons silently appear around them. This is an example of another Eisner technique: show something, tell something related, and let the reader piece it together.

As The Wraith approaches the address, frogs, insects and dogs appear in realistic renderings and collaged photos. Ordering the inspector to give him 15 minutes before following, The Wraith enters the house. He finds that Ivory has been transformed from an anthropomorphic cat lady into a kitten, recognizable only by her headband.

The mad scientist rants about his ray that redefines reality. During this rant, the fourth wall is violated twice on one page. As in the Dr. Drew story, a trompe l'oeil effect is utilized to make the villain seem to reach off the page.

The scientist uses his reality ray on our hero.

The Wraith has been turned into a dog, as foreshadowed.

Being called Wrath instead of Wraith enrages him. He leaps at the scientist, knocking the ray from his hand. The ray's polarity is reversed as it falls. This returns Ivory and all his other victims to normal. Absorbing the brunt of the ray, however, reduces the scientist to a drawing.

At sixteen pages, this runs double the standard length of a Spirit story. Using collage, variable page layout, and an unorthodox plot device, Gilbert has extended the ideas in the original Spirit stories into a meditation on the comic medium. The logical extension of an enforced reality is the awareness that a character is not animal, human, or hybrid, but simply ink on paper. Eisner's formulaic manipulations in The Spirit allude to this, by incorporating the stories into other forms, such as children's books in Rat Tat, the Toy Machine Gun (Tipton).

Gilbert sent copies of The Wraith stories to Eisner, who enjoyed them a great deal. The two struck up a friendship. At Eisner's behest, Gilbert lectured at School for Visual Arts in New York (Gilbert).

Gilbert has worked directly on the Spirit as part of the Spirit Jam issue of Kitchen Sink's Spirit magazine, contributing four pages (Gilbert). Among his subsequent stories that echo the populist tone of The Spirit, there is a surprising story that stands out. A one-shot graphic novel from 2000, Gilbert's Mann and Superman explores the everyman concept central to so many Spirit stories. By using Superman, arguably the most powerful superhero in popular consciousness, Gilbert strongly makes the case for the heroic in the everyman, one of Eisner's central themes.

It's reasonable to assume that most contemporary comic artists try to tread the stylistic and thematic ground first traveled by Will Eisner in The Spirit. The paths of Jerry Grandenetti and Michael T. Gilbert are logical and satisfying realizations of this journey.

Works Cited

  1. Boyer, B.C., The Masked Man, Eclipse Magazine #7 (November 1982) to #8 (January 1983), Eclipse Monthly #1 (August 1983) to #10 (July 1984), The Masked Man #1 (December 1984) to #12 (April 1988).
  2. Eisner, Will. Comics and Sequential Art, p. 63, Poorhouse Press, NY, 1985.
  3. Fears, Steven. The Jerry Grandenetti Interview. http://www.jergrand.com/interview.php
  4. Fox, Margalit. Steve Gerber, Creator of Howard the Duck, Dies at 60. New York Times, Feb. 14, 2008. http://www.nytimes.com/2008/02/14/arts/14gerber.html.
  5. Gilbert, Michael J. Phone conversation, January 17, 2009.
  6. Grandenetti, Jerry. Phone conversation, January 17, 2009.
  7. http://www.omahathecatdancer.com
  8. Karswell. Pre-code Horror Blog. http://thehorrorsofitall.blogspot.com/2008/02/strange-case-of-absent-floor.html
  9. Moore, Alan, and the Mammoth Gibbons, Dave. Watchmen. 1987. DC Comics. New York, NY.
  10. Normanton, Peter. The Mammoth Book of Horror Comics, pp. 44- 52. Running Press Book Publishers, 2008. Philadelphia, PA.
  11. Ranger Comics No. 46. April 1949. Fiction House. New York, NY.
  12. Tipton, Scott, Comics 101, http://www.quickstopentertainment.com/comics101/13.html.
  13. Wildwood Cemetery: The Spirit Database: The Wraith (http://www.angelfire.com/art/wildwood/wraith.html).

Diana Green (BFA, Comic Book Illustration MCAD; MaLS, Hamline University), has presented academic papers at Comic Scholars Conference, written biographical articles for Kay Worley and Vaugh Bode' and is a contributing editor for the forcoming Greenwood Press Encyclopedia of Comic Books. As an educator she has taught Comic Art History and Humanities classes at the Minneapolis College of Art and Design.

About this Archive

This page is an archive of entries from February 2009 listed from newest to oldest.

January 2009 is the previous archive.

March 2009 is the next archive.

Find recent content on the main index or look in the archives to find all content.