A classic Eisner cover for The Spirit, Oct. 6,...Image via Wikipediaby Jason Heller
The Onion/AV Club
January 6, 2011

Pop culture can be as forbidding as it is inviting, particularly in areas that invite geeky obsession: The more devotion a genre or series or subculture inspires, the easier it is for the uninitiated to feel like they’re on the outside looking in. But geeks aren’t born; they’re made. And sometimes it only takes the right starting point to bring newbies into various intimidatingly vast obsessions. Gateways To Geekery is our regular attempt to help those who want to be enthralled, but aren’t sure where to start. Want advice? Suggest future Gateways To Geekery topics by emailing gateways@theonion.com.

Geek obsession: Will Eisner

Why it’s daunting: The good thing about the past 30 years: Much has been done to advance the idea that comic books can be used to tell adult, literate stories just as much as any other medium, from novels and film on down. The bad thing about the past 30 years: People who defend comics as “not just mind-rotting kid stuff anymore” have a tendency to hyperbolize. Unfortunately, Will Eisner is one of the cartoonists most often cited by those defenders as the man who singlehandedly transformed comics into literature—which can make his work feel about as inviting as a textbook. The fact that Eisner is also famous for writing actual textbooks on cartooning doesn’t help. Once newcomers get past that, though, there’s another hurdle: Eisner’s body of work, which stretches from the 1930s to the 2000s, is massive, and it’s been reprinted numerous times in various formats over the decades.

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