Will Eisner – Graphic Novel Godfather

© 2022 Will Eisner Studio Inc.

Will Eisner – Graphic Novel GodfatherA Retrospective

15 May to 19 JuneKunstmuseum

Opening Hours: 

Wed/Fri/Sat 11 a.m.–3 p.m., Thu 11 a.m.–7 p.m., Sun 10 a.m.-4 p.m.
Special opening hours – 16 to 19 June: Thu 12 p.m.–7 p.m., Fri/Sat 10 a.m.–7 p.m., Sun 10 a.m.–6 p.m.

A 384-page monograph on the artist's life and work is published to accompany the exhibition (already out of print at the publisher, only available at the exhibition).

An exhibition by schauraum: comic + cartoon, Dortmund for the 20th International Comic Salon Erlangen at the Kunstmuseum Erlangen.

2,– Euro (Donation)
free entrance with festival ticket/pass!

Will Eisner (1917-2005) is considered one of the founding fathers of modern comics. Not for nothing do the "Oscars" of the comic industry, which have been honouring the best creations of the medium in the USA every year since 1988, bear his name: "Will Eisner Comic Industry Awards". Eisner was not only a cartoonist and writer, but also a theorist and producer. And he was the "inventor" of the graphic novel. Eisner gave comic narratives the form and scope they needed. Thanks to him, comics can be books today. In 1994, he was awarded the Max und Moritz Award in Erlangen for his oeuvre.

When Eisner entered the comics scene in the mid-1930s - when he was not even 20 years old - the comic book was still in its infancy. Eisner drew without a break: in any style and in any genre. When he was offered the (economically risky) opportunity to produce a kind of comic book for newspapers instead of the traditional Sunday pages in 1939, he jumped at the chance and created The Spirit. Since superheroes had been the big seller in the comic book market since 1938, Eisner unceremoniously gave his gangster hunter an eye mask. However, he was not really interested in colportaging heroic deeds, but rather in exploring the techniques of storytelling with words and images and casting an eye on the causes of crime and social dysfunctionality. Eisner, who himself grew up in poor circumstances in Brooklyn and the Bronx as the child of Jewish immigrant parents from Austria and Romania, wanted to tell stories about the margins of American society, about the losers, the little people in the darkness of the narrow alleys of the tenements. Eisner coaxed ingenious dramaturgies, spectacular perspectives, subjective points of view, unusual cuts and formal experiments out of the medium.

In 1969 Will Eisner had to bury his 16-year-old daughter, who had leukaemia: a violent break. Jobs for the Pentagon or big companies now became more and more repugnant to Eisner. At the same time, the comic scene had emancipated itself: Underground, independent and self-distribution were the buzzwords of the time. Eisner liked that. He had always wanted something like that for the medium. The almost 60-year-old tasted blood again and set to work. In 1978, a 196-page comic book was published with the title "A Contract with God and Other Tenement Stories". Next to the title was the definition of this new comic genre: "A Graphic Novel by Will Eisner". Eisner now had 27 years left in his life, during which he not only published various non-fiction books on the subject of "sequential art", but also 16 more highly ambitious graphic novels. This "late work" really had it all.
Alexander Braun