Will Eis­ner: A Spir­it­ed Life

Bob Andel­man
  • Review
By – July 13, 2012

Will Eis­ner, pro­lif­ic car­toon­ist and grand­fa­ther” of the mod­ern-day graph­ic nov­el, died in Jan­u­ary, 2005. Although much has been pub­lished about Eis­ner and his lit­er­ary out­put, Andelman’s biog­ra­phy is the first to explore all facets of his fas­ci­nat­ing life and six-decade career in the comics indus­try. Much of Andelman’s infor­ma­tion has been gleaned from exten­sive inter­views with Eis­ner and the many col­leagues who have been influ­enced over the years by his work. 

Michael Chabon’s stir­ring intro­duc­tion sets the stage for rem­i­nis­cences by fel­low car­toon­ists and writ­ers. Andel­man is very thor­ough in doc­u­ment­ing Eisner’s career, from his ear­ly days in the 1930’s dur­ing the birth of comics to his suc­cess­ful and endur­ing super­hero, The Spir­it. He recounts Eisner’s stint in the Army, where he wrote tech­ni­cal man­u­als in com­ic for­mat. Eisner’s ear­ly work laid the foun­da­tion for his most per­son­al work, the graph­ic nov­els which depict the lives of Jews liv­ing in the teem­ing ten­e­ments of New York’s Low­er East Side. 

Read­ers of Chabon’s The Amaz­ing Adven­tures of Kava­lier and Clay and fans of graph­ic nov­els will rev­el in the details pro­vid­ed in Andelman’s biog­ra­phy. The sto­ry of Will Eis­ner is as inter­est­ing as any found with­in the pages of a com­ic book.

Wendy Was­man is the librar­i­an & archivist at the Cleve­land Muse­um of Nat­ur­al His­to­ry in Cleve­land, Ohio.

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