finally found a minute to run uptown to see Will Eisner: The Centennial Celebration 1917-2017, an exhibit at the charming upper eastside headquarters of the Society of Illustrators.
Will Eisner (1917–2005) was a major innovator and influencer in American comic books.
Eisner did pioneering & influential work on the Spirit comic in the 40’s, then left comics for decades to become a publisher, and re-entered the field in 1978 with his ground-breaking graphic novel A Contract with God.
I was truly fortunate that he was one of my instructors at SVA.
The exhibit included over 150 pieces of Eisner’s original artwork, as well as personal items from Eisner’s career, such as his studio drawing board, brushes, and awards.
As an added bonus, I caught a lecture and slide show by Josh O’Neill about his new book The Lost Work of Will Eisner. The book includes early, early work: mid-30’s comic strips by Eisner. We see a young Eisner first aping his own influences, and then starting to find his own voice in the field in which he would one day be considered a genius.
The strips were unearthed recently when a collector approached Josh (a comic book store owner) with a trove of pre-WWII newspaper printing plates he had acquired.