Recently in 2010 Educational Material Category

storm-flashback-1.jpgA Building, A Soldier, A Conspiracy: Stylistic and Narrative Evolutions in Three Key Eisner Graphic Novels
By Diana Green, BFA, MaLS

"I see no intrinsic reason why a doubly talented artist might not arise and create a comic-strip novel masterpiece."
John Updike, 1960. (Gravett)

Updike's speculation played out in a more substantial sense than he anticipated. However, the current spate of graphic novels was far from unprecedented, even at the time some saw Updike's remark as prescient. The graphic novel had its origins in the 1890s woodcut novels of Franz Masreel and the 1930 Milt Gross wordless novel He Done Her Wrong (Gross). The Drake/Waller/Baker sensationalist paperback It Rhymes With Lust billed itself as a "graphic novel" in 1950 (Drake).

(Read full paper: D. Green Eisner week 2010.pdf [1.2MB]

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 forthcoming 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.


"Architecture is the simplest means of articulating time and space, of modulating reality, of engendering dreams"
- Ivan Chtcheglov, 1953.

With A Contract With God (1978), the earliest book of the trilogy, Will Eisner was inventing a new format: the graphic novel*. The 'graphic novel' coinage was a kind of sleight of hand that turned ordinary comics into works with ambitions of becoming literature. As such it's describing the content, rather than a medium. It was the literary ambition of A Contract With God that set it apart from the cheap children's comic-books that dominated the market at the time. Eisner of course cut his teeth on comic-books having previously drawn the iconic and long running series The Spirit. In creating a graphic novel, Eisner was distancing himself not only from other comic-books, but also from his own formative work. But, new terminology was insufficient to distinguish the work from its cousins and Eisner relied on a number of formal and visual inventions to underscore the difference.

Thumbnail image for The Dreamer.jpgIntroduction to Comic Art.
Jim Keefe Instructor, Spring 2010
Minneapolis College of Art and Design

The Biography Comic

For this assignment we will illustrate a two-page biography of a Comic/Manga artist or writer. In can be a memorable moment from the Artist's life or cover a lifespan.

Our first step will be to study an excerpt from Will Eisner's "The Dreamer."

Will Eisner published "The Dreamer" in 1986. It tells the story of the burgeoning comic book field in the 1930s; a story Eisner was quite familiar with having lived it. In Will Eisner's own words, "Intended as a work of fiction, (The Dreamer) ultimately took the shape of a historical account. In the telling it, it was inescapable that the actors would resemble the real people. Their names, however, are fictitious, and they are portrayed without malice. It all comes out of the cluttered closet where I store ghosts of the past, and from the yellowing memories of my experience."

Thumbnail image for Witty Illus.jpgIllustrative Text: Transformed Words and the Language of Comics

By Sara Witty

The art of story-telling is as old as mankind. Our cultures are defined by the stories we are told by our elders and the stories we pass on to our children. These stories serve as indoctrination into the system of our culture, allowing us from an early age to understand morality: right and wrong, virtue and vice, good and evil, from the perspective of our respective culture.

In the era of human history predating literacy, oral traditions took on the task of engendering these concepts within a given populace. Writing, which originates in pictography, allowed a further scope of indoctrination. With the evolution of writing from pictograph, which is essentially an image of a word, to abstract symbols meant to represent sounds, the speed of writing and thus distribution was increased. The creation of the alphabet allowed for a myriad of cultural advances including the ability to document history and record previously oral-only traditions.

The idea of story-telling is not restricted to literature alone, but runs the gamut of the arts. Even the vernacular remains the same; it is asked of a painting, "What is the artist trying to say?", "what is the narrative in this painting?", and "what does it mean?" Both writing and imagery function under the umbrella of language, employing a variety of signs and symbols to express the narrative that they wish to relay.

However, regardless of their similar forms of communication and the fact that both rely upon a framework of language, both writing and imagery utilize completely different and seemingly opposed methods of conveyance. Simon Morely describes the differences between the two: writing tells, imagery shows; writing presents, imagery represents; writing creates time, imagery creates space. Even our perceptions of the two widely differ. Reading is a left-brain specific action, employing our use of logic and analysis. Seeing is a right-brain specific action, utilizing our imaginations and our ability to free-associate. Although the use of sign is constant, the sign that is a letter, which makes up a word such as 'mountain' is read, where as the sign that is an image of a mountain is perceived.

(more...Witty IllustrativeText.pdf)

Sara Witty is an artist and art historian pursuing her PhD at the University of Madison Wisconsin. Her primary research area is the architecture of 19th century mental hospitals and an extensively study of comics, and archetypal imagery. "While some of my artwork is derived from my primary research field, ALL of it is rooted in oneiromancy, alchemy, gnostic mythology, hermetic mysticism, and magic."

N. C. Christopher Couch: Will Eisner and His Impact

Will Eisner and His Impact Comparative Literature 393E
N.C. Christopher Couch
Lecturer, B.A., Columbia, 1976; M.A., 1980; Ph.D., 1987

N.C. Christopher Couch has generously shared his syllabus for his Will Eisner course.

Course Description

This course will examine the works of Will Eisner, the innovative comic book artist and writer who created the Spirit, and the father of the graphic novel, an increasingly important artistic and literary medium. It will also examine writers and artists whose work influenced Eisner, or whose work shows the impact of Eisner's career and legacy.

Eisner's career began with the creation of comic book short stories, of which those in The Spirit are the most famous. He then moved to the creation of educational comic books, primarily for the military. In the 1970s, Eisner began the series of graphic novels that would secure his literary reputation outside the field of sequential art, and help to bring about the explosion of creativity in the graphic novel field that continues today. The course will examine Eisner's work both chronologically and thematically, and in terms of the sources of and influences on Eisner's work. In addition, the course will include consideration of Yiddish theater and literature, of American realist fiction, of contemporary writers including Michael Chabon, Jonathan Lethem, Umberto Eco and other novelists and literary historians and theorists.

(Read full syllabus: N.C. Will Eisner.pdf)

N. C. Christopher Couch Ph.D., is the author of numerous books and articles on Latin American art and on graphic novels and comic art, including The Will Eisner Companion: The Pioneering Spirit of the Father of the Graphic Novel (with Stephen Weiner), Will Eisner: A Retrospective (with Peter Myer). He was senior editor at Kitchen Sink Press (Northampton), editor in chief at CPM Manga.

The Reading Revolution: Will Eisner and the American Graphic Novel

We are very fortunate again this year to have a number of comic educators and artists share with us their academic lectures and assignments.

Now through March 5th we will be adding content to our Educational Materials generously donated from comic educators: N.C. Christopher Couch, Diana Green, Karen Green, Tom Kaczynski, Jim Keefe, Zak Sally, and Sara Witty.

Browse through our archives from last year for posts on Will Eisner from Paul Karasik, Diana Green, Ivan Brunetti, Dr. Frenchy Lunning and Diana Schutz.

To begin we would like to share with you an article Karen Green wrote last year on "Graphic Novels and Academic Acceptance." This opens this years theme of "The Reading Revolution: Will Eisner and the American Graphic Novel," perfectly for the educational section.

Adventures in Academia
Cupcakes for EVERYBODY!!
By Karen Green

It's now exactly four weeks since the panel I moderated at New York Comic-Con, "Graphic Novels and Academic Acceptance." There's probably not much I can add to describe it that hasn't been covered in Paul DeBenedetto's terrific and incredibly thorough summary. So, I'll try to pull out a few points that were made in the course of the evening and take them out for a spin.

Who was there?

I had hoped to have a panel that was balanced between academics and creators and, for the creators, I wanted a balance between superhero and independent comics work. I also wanted creators whose work I admired as well as who had names that would pull in a crowd. The panel went through a lot of permutations but, in the end, in the corner for the academics, Kent Worcester of Marymount Manhattan College, co-editor of A Comics Studies Reader and Arguing Comics: Literary Masters on a Popular Medium; Bill Savage, a senior lecturer in the English department at Northwestern University; Gene Kannenberg jr, director of, editor of 500 Essential Graphic Novels: The Ultimate Guide, and co-editor of Erotic Comics, vols. 1 and 2; and Greg Urquhart, Comics Editor at Alexander Street Press, and editor in charge of their forthcoming online collection, Underground and Independent Comics, Comix, and Graphic Novels. And in the corner for the creators, Dean Haspiel, Peter Kuper, and Jonathan Hickman. Do I really need to tell you who those guys are? Surely not!

Read the full article here.

Jeremy Waltman has shared with us the written assignment, making of, and completed student work from his sequential art class at La Salle University this spring semester. For those of you in the Philadelphia area, we encourage you to see the Sequential gallery exhibit of this work. Click on the images to view them full size.

EisnerWeek_Jeremy_Waltman 1.jpg

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