Will Eisner: Portrait of a Sequential Artist
By ALISSA SIMON
A Lloyd Greif presentation of a Montilla Pictures production, in association with Comic Book Artist magazine, Schackman Films. Produced by Andrew D. Cooke, Jon B. Cooke. Executive producer, Kris Schackman. Co-producers, Ben Tudhope, James D. Lee. Directed by Andrew D. Cooke. Written by Jon B. Cooke.
With: Will Eisner, Denis Kitchen, Jules Feiffer, Art Spiegelman, Ann Eisner, Jack Kirby, Joe Kubert, Gil Kane, Stan Lee, Neil Gaiman, Frank Miller, Michael Chabon, Kurt Vonnegut, Denis Kitchen.
Narrator: Art Spiegelman.
The remarkable career of comics pioneer and graphic artist Will Eisner (1917-2005) gets a surprisingly flat recounting in Andrew D. Cooke’s feature docu bow. Film incorporates a surfeit of materials, not all of equal interest or strength, and fails to find a visual style worthy of its subject. Still, without reaching the level of genre classics such as “Crumb” and “Comic Book Confidential,” this docu still reps a solid introduction for the layman. Eisner’s legacy and huge fan base should make the pic popular on DVD and attract attention from specialty fests and broadcasters.
Asserting that Eisner’s entrepreneurial, literary and drawing skills turned sequential art (i.e. comics) from a pulpy visual format, meant to entertain kids, into a bona fide means of self-expression, docu uses a mix of interviews, artwork and talking heads to trace his 70-year career.
The son of Jewish emigre parents — a dreamy painter father and practical mother — savvy Eisner managed to combine aspects of both to succeed in art and commerce. He founded his own comicstrip production company while still in his teens, and went on to negotiate an unprecedented deal to retain ownership of his most enduring character, “The Spirit.”
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