The Nexus of Pop-Culture Fandom

NYCC 2008: Will Eisner Tribute Panel

Written by: Ron Bricker

ImageA group of Will Eisner's peers as well as current industry professionals passionately influenced by Eisner's legendary work. Panelists included Paul Levitz, Michael Uslan, Andrew D. Cooke, Carl M. Gropper and Mark Evanier.

The moderator treated the panel in an informal fashion, but everyone was given a chance to relive their moments with Will.  The panel was exceptionally short, perhaps only 20 minutes, but we were given a chance to hear some great tidbits about the man that was Will Eisner.

Where’d you first meet Will?

Paul: He was writing for a fanzine at the time… we met and then eventually became friends as publisher and writer.

Michael: First met Will at NYCC 1968, while still in high school.  Fell in love with The Spirit.  Then re-met 14 years ago and had lunch to decide that they would make a Spirit movie.

Mark:  President of comic book club in the 60s, actually voted Spirit as best character.  He wrote a letter to Eisner to tell him that the LA Comic Club had voted the Spirit as the best.  Eisner wrote back.  Met Eisner at a con…

Carl:  As his nephew… Used to staying for the weekend at ‘Uncle Wills.’  This was in the 50s when comics were a bit risqué.  He actually read bound versions of The Spirit at his uncle’s house.  He has taken over work for Will Eisner Studios to continue the legacy.

Andy:  Will passed in the middle of making The Spirit film, so he didn’t know him as a person.  But he did know him as his work.  He knows Eisner as his work on The Spirit.

How about Will as a business man?

Paul: The list of good businessmen who are also good artists could barely be considered a handful… Will was at the top of that list.

Michael:  Will Eisner created cinematic storytelling in comics.  Will invented comic book genius.  Some would say that what Orson Wells is to Cinema, Eisner is to Comics.

Mark: Will demonstrated that you could do things in comic books that you could never do in a newspaper panel.  Comic books are not comic strips, Will created stories.  Will was a guy who figured out how to make a living doing this.

Carl: “Will grilled a mean steak. (Laughter)

The moderator gave everyone a chance to ask questions… this was echoed by silence.  Then we were promised a world premiere of the teaser trailer for The Spirit.