Thursday, June 3, 2010

Eisner's effects

Jules Feiffer famously called Eisner the artist other artists stole from. I believe he was talking about the late Thirties and early Forties when Eisner was spewing out art and scripts and characters at an astounding rate and advancing the medium on an almost daily basis.

But as amazing as that work was, it still had a callow quality. The Spirit was, for me, the first fully mature, fully realized comic. There had certainly been entertaining, even great comics before but I don't think anyone before had used the medium to this extent before. Here's an example in a clever story involving an evil spymaster, a wind-up Spirit doll and two pairs of similar looking glasses

Here are the last two pages (I think you can piece together the plot up to this point). Pay close attention to the top of the final page.

Look at how the path of the bullet both connects the panels and conveys a distinct sense of time. Eisner came up with an entire library of methods for depicting the passage of time and, true to Feiffer's words, you can find artists stealing them to this day.

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