NYCC 2021: Gene Luen Yang and other comics greats celebrate Will Eisner
Yesterday’s New York Comic Con kickoff panel was focused on Will Eisner. It brought together some of today’s most prominent graphic novelists to discuss one of comics’ greatest creators. The panel showed how Eisner’s work as a creator of comics — and as a teacher — has been foundational for countless other comic creators.
Awards-winning American born Chinese author Gene Luen Yang, New Kid’s Jerry Craft, and Lavender Jack’s Dan Schkade joined moderator Danny Fingeroth, historian and former Marvel Comics writer and editor to discuss Eisner. The illustrator — or cartoonist, or sequential artist, however you want to put it — innovated the comics medium during the “golden age” of the 1940s with newspaper strip The spirit, before breaking ground on what would later become known as “graphic novels” through works like A contract with usThis is the. He wrote his 1985 book Comics and Sequential ArtHe shared his ideas about creating comics and led many comics creators to new ways of looking at comics.
Eisner, who was undoubtedly one of the original founders of American comics, is the reason why the American Comics Award’s highest honor has been named in his honour. Going page by page, and occasionally panel by panel, through Eisner’s extensive back catalog, Fingeroth kicked things off with an overview of Eisner’s many fabulous titles, reminding viewers of the many reasons why Eisner’s visual storytelling still stands as one of the most pure forms of the medium.
“Eisner was a triple threat,” he argued. “I mean, art, writing, design. His stories are infused with the right atmosphere. […] You can see the many levels that the details work on.”
“I have a kind of special connection to The spirit,” said Schkade, who worked on Dynamite Entertainment’s revival of the titular character of Eisner’s crimefighting series. “I drew it for a year, obviously, but I think that the thing that’s hard for modern audiences to understand is that what makes a comic great isn’t necessarily the character or even the overall plot, but the comics perspective. The best comics are some of my favorites. Spirit comics aren’t even about fighting crime — the vibe of them is what makes them so unique and next level.”
“‘Next level’ is a great way to describe Eisner,” agreed Yang. “There’s always a temptation in cartooning to repeat things when you finally figure them out, but I don’t think that Eisner did that. It was a difficult task for Eisner to start at such a high level. It was so far ahead of its time.”
The group then moved on to discuss the ways in which Eisner’s cartooning — as well as Eisner’s beloved educational book Comics and Sequential Art — They have also added to their knowledge when writing graphic novels. Fingeroth met Yang for the first time. Saints and Boxers Dragon Hoops Numerous comic creators have influenced me.
“There’s a section in Comics and Sequential Art Which [Eisner] talks about bird’s eye view and worm’s eye view,” Yang said. “I don’t think I’ve ever been skilled enough as a cartoonist to pull it off, but I tried my best in Saints and boxersOr the way he dressed in clothing. Oder the way that he drew clothing. If I could ask the comic gods for anything it would be for Will Eisner’s ability to draw clothing. His folding skills were amazing. The camera placement is what really matters. He had such a great knowledge of anatomy so he could put the camera anywhere and it’d look great. I keep trying to emulate that.”
It was evident that the team paid attention to every detail. New Kid author Jerry Craft said, “I had poured over Comics and Sequential Art From there, I learned to draw comics. [How to Draw Comics]Marvelous WayIt was a bit of a wild ride. Comics and Sequential Art reined me in and taught me that the mundane can be something exciting.” He continued, “If every panel is crazy then it’s hard to find the differential when something is actually exciting. You can make a big difference in the smallest details. […]Auto windshield wipers. A neighbor lady sweeps. Every little detail in the neighbourhood. Those things go unnoticed, but they really matter in this kind of storytelling.”
Fingeroth closed the panel with a speech to Lavender Jack Schkade was a creator of webtoons and a cartoonist, but their connection went deeper than that.
“Matt Wagner agreed to write SpiritDynamite will include a series of stories in its 75th anniversary celebration. I was inspired by his short test script and decided to make my own test page. This smart would allow us to do the stories in only four panels, I thought. Turns out it was a secret test by Matt to see if I could condense that information,” laughed Schkade. “When I found The spirit I was able to see how comics could be different. It combined humanism and caped comics in a way that really changed the game for me.”
“There is a lot of acceptance for literary graphic novels and comics for young people,” said Yang, concluding the discussion. “I don’t think we’re there yet, in America, where we have enough literary comics for adults. I think that Eisner was finally tackling that and that’s still the frontier that I hope we as cartoonists can keep tackling.”
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