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Will Eisner Book Review

April 2007

In his book 'Comics and Sequential Art', Will Eisner examines his own accomplished comic work with a logical mind. It is reasonable for Eisner to draw solely on his own work because it is so varied and prolific. The types of comics Eisner made include:

The bulk of 'Comics and Sequential Art' is Eisner describing the shared knowledge between himself, as comic maker, and his readers. This is what Scott McCloud would, I believe, refer to as the 'grammar' of comics.

As I worked through the example after example of techniques Eisner uses, I realise that they are all examples from his fiction work. What I would love to see is Eisner describing the relationship between the reader and writer in his technical and attitudinal instruction comics.

I have been doing some non-fiction work recently, with my 'history of comics' notes. If I were to list the techniques I have started to notice from this exercise it would look like:

This is the way I would recommend making a non-fiction comic, based on my limited experience, but this is not to say I am disciplined enough to actually do it.

To continue with the review of Will Eisner's 'Comics and Sequential Art'. I tried to make notes and organise the points Eisner is making, much as I would if I were going to make a none-fiction comic out of it. But it is not easy to organise this work. I think the reason it is not easy is because Eisner wrote these articles for a newspaper and so was imparting fragments of his knowledge that he probably had no intention of having viewed as a collection. The same kind of ideas that Eisner is presenting have been put together in a much more ordered way by people like Scott McCloud. But I would say that Eisner does point out, in this book, some lovely features of his own work that may not be obvious to his readers.

Things that stick out as special in Eisner's work are his use of frames, he makes the surround of the frame out of doorways, windows, caves etc. His use of expression in his characters, they are wonderfully exaggerated and I always feel they are Dickensian. He describes storyboarding and the technicalities of making a comic in a team.

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