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Will Eisner: A Spirited Life Paperback – November 15, 2005

3.8 out of 5 stars 5 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

It is highly fortunate that Andelman got to write this authorized biography of the towering American cartoonist Eisner before his death this year at age 87. Following Michael Chabon's insightful introduction, Andelman states that he will not critique Eisner's work, and so barely describes Eisner's innovative "The Spirit" or the contents of his pioneering graphic novels. Andelman thus limits his audience to comics aficionados who are already thoroughly familiar with Eisner's oeuvre; others will be left puzzled as to why he merits a biography. Thoroughly researched, the book confusingly jumps back and forth in time, while presenting vivid portraits of Eisner's colleagues like Jerry Iger, Denis Kitchen and Cat Yronwode. Eisner is depicted as a hardworking, almost universally beloved artistic visionary. Yet Eisner's work indicates that he was a far more complex figure. Andelman briefly touches on intriguing issues, like Eisner's capacity for anger, his obsessive penny-pinching, his religious doubts, and his anguish over his daughter's death, but never probes them sufficiently. A future biography should delve beneath Eisner's public persona to draw connections between his life and his art. Still, so far there are few serious biographies of important figures in American comics. In authorizing this book, Eisner has proved a pioneer yet again.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

Michael Chabon contributes a heartfelt introduction to Andelman's first-ever biography of Will Eisner (1917-2005), and the story that follows is a real-life Kavalier and Clay. Present at the comics industry's birth in the 1930s, Eisner revolutionized the field not just creatively in work spanning from his 1940s stories featuring masked crime fighter the Spirit to his later, pioneering graphic novels but also as businessman and entrepreneur, teacher, mentor, and the inspiration of countless young artists. Andelman covers all those roles and points up Eisner's uniqueness among his peers: he retained ownership of his creations, and that allowed him to reprint the Spirit stories at a time, decades after their original publication, when so doing cemented his reputation in a new era of comics fandom and facilitated launching a new career as a graphic novelist with A Contract with God (1978). Besides verifying Eisner's impact on nearly every artist who drew comics in his wake, Andelman shows that Eisner's influence extends to such film directors as Spielberg and Tarantino. Gordon Flagg
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 376 pages
  • Publisher: M Press; 1st M Press Ed edition (November 15, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1595820116
  • ISBN-13: 978-1595820112
  • Product Dimensions: 9 x 6.1 x 0.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.3 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,595,568 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Michael F. Hopkins on November 1, 2005
Format: Paperback
Bob Andelman's WILL EISNER: A SPIRITED LIFE is a
superb study of a great literary genius. Drawing
enormously from a vast wealth of previously
unavailable resources, the M Press book is made
all the finer by the biographer's decision to
focus on the man and, in doing so, draws a more
acute, highly intimate bead on the influential
work Eisner produced across the greater 20th
century, and beyond.
That being said, I question the logic of the
Publishers Weekly reviewer, who felt that
Andelman's decision to place Eisner's life
as the primary focus, rather than fixate
upon his technique, would somehow limit
the book's readership to comic book
fandom.
One would think that just the opposite would be
true; that a book principally aimed at discussing
technical aspects would have come across as far
too in-clubby and far less audience-spanning for a
biographical work. Too, considering that Eisner's
personal life has almost never been a topic for
audience discretion, one has to wonder what the
Publishers Weekly reviewer had in mind for a more
appropriate biographical subject?
One ponders if that reviewer was the same one
who wondered if the sobering subject of Eisner's
final work, THE PLOT, was appropriate for the
medium of comics?!! It might do such critics
well to actually read the material they're
reviewing, and gain some wisdom -not
stereotypes- about what they purport
to talk about.

Few places could provide a better start into
the inner workings of a classic storyteller
than this book.
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Format: Paperback
Andelman writes with an excited glee that bounces the story along in hoops and bounds, from one heroic moment to another. After awhile I forgot I was reading about a comic artist, for the tone is so reverential you might think you were reading the life of a great freedom fighter or martyr like Martin Luther King. Maybe A SPIRITED LIFE needs a few drops of (I won't say "reality") perspective to make it really stand out and be the book that it wants to be, but uniformly everyone apparently loved Eisner and only occasionally, by mistake as it were, do you get the feeling of a three dimensional man beneath the glossy surface. But how can you blame Bob Andelman, I would have written this exactly in the same way. I do wonder however why Eisner is always right. He stops drawing The Spirit--it's a complex artistic decision. He starts drawing again--it's fate bringing back a neglected American master. To pull this off, Andelman's strategy insures that he has to make everyone else look bad, especially Jerry Iger. And what about poor Cat Yronwode? While Andelman admits she brought some needed assistance to the lives of overworked Will and Ann, so that they began to depend on her almost as a daughter, he otherwise makes her seem like a crude, sexually aberrant nudist without an ounce of couth--a wild Maenad in fact, who tells Howard Cruse that homosexuality is sick, so that Eisner seems like a besozzled idiot for keeping her around. Why trash the woman, did she do something terribly wrong to Andelman in private life?

When Michael Chabon began rseearching KAVALIER AND KLAY he interviewed Eisner about the early days of comics and what it wa slike being a young American Jew in the era when Hitler was rising to power, a shadow across Europe.
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For me, this book doesn't say enough bout Eisner's creation of the Spirit and his early years in the comic business, but it will tell you all you want to know about his construction of instruction manuals for the army or how Cat W. created the master archive list to all eisner's work.
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For anyone interested in the people behind the drawings this is an acceptable and interesting read. I do wish there were more photos and artwork though.
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Format: Paperback
OK, I'll admit the only reason I first picked this book up was that I thought it had something to do with Disney, and I am a huge animation fan. I was way wrong, but so glad I got it. First let me clarify the Disney thing. Will signs his name almost identical as Walt did his, is shown on the cover with his cartoon drawings and his last name, Eisner, is the same as Disney's long time CEO, Michael Eisner (no relation). The only thing they had in common is that Robert Iger, one time President of Disney, was the great nephew of Jerry Iger, who was Will's first business partner at their comic book publishing company. Now that that confusion is out of the way, let's delve into the book.

I wanted to give this book a 4, but just couldn't do it. The main reason is the writing. It seems very forced in a lot of places as if the author cataloged and chronicled all of Will's personal effects and correspondence (which by his own admission he was privy to, and actually knew Will) and anywhere he saw something that interested him he wrote a paragraph or two about it. Certain little trite quips do not need to be elaborated on or even included in this biography because they are simply not entertaining nor lend to create a clearer picture of the man himself or his legacy. Maybe that's the editors fault, trying to stretch out the pages, maybe not, but it makes the reading very stifled and more often than not, not at all flowing. I simply have read too many good biographies to compare this one to. It could be better. Now enough on that, onto Will Eisner.

There are two types of people in this world the types like me (before reading this book) who say who the hell is Will Eisner and the others who know him as a genius, pioneer and demi-god.
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