Behind the Scenes of Will Eisner: A Spirited Life by Bob Andelman
Acknowledgments from the first and second editions of Will Eisner: A Spirited Life, by Bob Andelman
First Edition, 2005: Writing the biography of a man whose professional career covers more than 70 years is a formidable task that calls for the assistance, cooperation and direction of many good people. In researching this book, I interviewed more than 75 people, plus many more who sent me further down the right path when it came to finding details or corroborating stories.
In truth, this project started in 2002 as an autobiography, with me helping Will Eisner tell his stories and organize his experiences. After reading the first draft, he threw up his hands, laughed and said, “This is too much work! Why don’t you just write it and I’ll authorize it?”
So the people I’d like to thank first are Will and Ann Eisner, who welcomed me into their lives almost weekly for more than two years, told me things they never told any interviewer before and trusted me not to keep their secrets so much as to tell their story well. I hope I succeeded.
I’d also like to acknowledge the assistance and friendship of Pete Eisner, for many years the official gatekeeper to all things Eisner, who was a pleasure to know and deal with. His passing in December 2003 saddened me greatly.
This book was conceived in the first conversation I ever had with Will’s literary agent, Judy Hansen. We started talking about 5 p.m. one evening, introduced by a mutual friend, Kevin Lang, and more than two hours later, this book and a new friendship were cemented.
Denis Kitchen, Judy’s partner in the Kitchen & Hansen Literary Agency and a father of the underground and alternative comics publishing industry, was at my elbow through every step of the journey. He offered advice, information, anecdotes, his Rolodex and even his home as resources.
(Thanks also Stacey Kitchen for technical assistance and delicious meals!)
Diana Schutz, my editor at M Press/Dark Horse, is always so calm. How?
I also appreciate the support of Dark Horse Comics publisher Mike Richardson, editor in chief Davey Estrada, Michael Martens and Lance Kreiter.
During the 1970s, Catherine “Cat” Yronwode did groundbreaking work and research into Eisner’s life and career as his assistant and editor of The Art of Will Eisner and The Spirit Checklist. I am grateful not just for the platform she created but also for her graciousness and time in reconstructing her time with the Eisners.
Among the elements that I hope sets this biography apart from any reporting that preceded it are the interviews. When people heard this was a book about Will, doors magically opened. My thanks to the following people for sharing their experiences and thoughts: Murphy Anderson, Paul Aratow, Tom Armstrong, Florian Bachleda, John Benson, Karen Berger, Ray Billingsley, Chris Browne, Charles Brownstein, Nick Cardy, Mike Carlin, Gary Chaloner, Bob Chapman, Mark Chiarello, John Coates, Jon B. Cooke, Chris Couch, Jerry Craft, Dale Crain, Howard Cruse, Jack Davis, Jim Davis, Steven E. de Souza, Jackie Estrada, Mark Evanier, Jules Feiffer, Al Feldstein, Neil Gaiman, Lorraine Garland, Steve Geppi, Dave Gibbons, Mike Gold, Jerry Grandenetti, Bob “R.C.” Harvey, Irwin Hasen, Stuart Henderson, John Holmstrom, Arthur Iger, Robert Iger, Carmine Infantino, Jack Jackson, Jim Keefe, Joe Kubert, Adele Kurtzman, Batton Lash, Stan Lee, Paul Levitz, Bob Lubbers, Jay Lynch, Scott McCloud, Patrick McDonnell, Jim McLauchlin, Legs McNeil, Angie Meyer, Bill Mohalley, Alan Moore, Geoff Notkin, Denny O’Neil, Robert Overstreet, Mike Ploog, Byron Preiss, Joe Quesada, Seymour Reitman, Jerry Robinson, Diana Schutz, Julius Schwartz, Garb Shamus, Jim Shooter, Dave Sim, Joe Simon, Ralph Smith, David Steiling, Roy Thomas, Kim Thompson, Maggie Thompson, Rick & Karen Trepp, Rick Veitch, Frank von Zerneck, Mort Walker, Jim Warren and Marv Wolfman.
Marc Svensson provided me with videotapes of Eisner and Blackhawk artist Chuck Cuidera participating in a 1999 San Diego Comic-Con International, as well as a 2002 panel on “The Eisner Shop.” And a special thanks to Marisa Furtado de Oliveira, for making her Eisner documentary available and sending along a translation of the Portuguese narration.
Among the many online resources I found enormously useful were: AbeBooks.de; WildwoodCemetary.com; Eisner-L, the Will Eisner ListServ on Yahoo! Groups (http://groups.yahoo.com/group/eisner-l); Jerry Stratton’s “The Annotated Dreamer” (http://www.hoboes.com/html/FireBlade/Fluff/Comics/dreamer.shtml); and Ken Quattro’s “Rare Eisner: Making of a Genius” (http://www.comicartville.com/rareeisner.htm).
Lucy Shelton Caswell, curator, and Dennis Toth, librarian, were extremely generous with their time and resources during my work at The Ohio State University Cartoon Research Library.
And a great big thank you to Michael Chabon and Neal Adams for adding their personal thoughts about Will Eisner with an introduction and appreciation, respectively.
Finally, my family always endures my being away for a great deal of hours during the research and writing of a book. Special thanks go to: my niece and nephew, Chris and Tony White (who housed and fed me while I did research at Ohio State University); to my wife, Mimi, who never believes me when I say the book will be done next week at the latest; and to my daughter, Rachel, who broke the ice at my first meeting with Will by drawing him a picture of a snowman… in a snowstorm.
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Second Edition 2012: I met Andrea Plazzi at the public memorial in New York for Will Eisner held in April 2005. He is an earnest, delightful editor specializing in Italian translations of American comics, graphic novels and related books. He eventually became the translator and editor of what was intended to be the Italian edition of Will Eisner: A Spirited Life. Although that book has still not seen the light of day, Andrea pointed out many fine corrections that are incorporated in this edition and his enthusiasm for the project – and love of Eisner – are duly noted and appreciated.
A word of gratitude as well to George Cornelius, Michael Piotrowski and engineer Joshua Agnew at Tampa Digital Studios and Jessica Kaye at Big Happy Family for supporting the audiobook edition of A Spirited Life.