March 12, 2003 Comic Book Artist Will Eisner To Discuss the Graphic Novel on April 1

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Will Eisner, universally acknowledged as one of the great masters of comic book art, will discuss the "Graphic Novel" at 4 p.m. on Tuesday, April 1, at the Library of Congress in the Mumford Room, sixth floor of the James Madison Building, 101 Independence Ave., S.E., in Washington, D.C. This event, which is free and open to the public, is co-sponsored by the Prints and Photographs Division and the Swann Foundation for Caricature and Cartoon.

A compelling visual storyteller, Eisner is considered to be one of the most influential comic book artists of all time. He has been called "the Leonardo of the comic-book form" and the "single person most responsible for giving comics its brains." Since the 1930s, Eisner has written and illustrated numerous comic books and weekly strips, including the internationally acclaimed "The Spirit" (1940-52), instructional comics for the U.S. Army and 16 graphic novels. The Will Eisner Comic Industry Award is named in his honor as a testament to his contributions to the field.

Eisner coined the phrase "graphic novel" to describe a substantial comic book, often over 200 pages in length that consists of a single dramatic story or several interconnected narratives told through expressive illustration art. His first graphic novel, "A Contract with God" (1977), comprises four stories about Jewish tenement life in the Bronx where he grew up. Later examples, such as "A Life Force" (1983), "The Dreamer" (1986), and "Last Day in Vietnam" (2000), also drew from his personal experiences and, as is the case with all his work, provided realistic insight into the human condition.

In the lecture, Eisner will discuss his own approach to writing and illustrating graphic novels and explore his views on the evolution of popular visual media. Images from early wordless books and a variety of recent graphic novels will be shown, along with a selection of Eisner's own drawings.

The Swann Foundation for Caricature and Cartoon is administered by the Library of Congress and supports the preservation and development of the Swann Cartoon Collection and related collections; maintains a continuing program of exhibitions and related public programs; and provides funding for the only scholarly fellowship in the field. For more information about Eisner's upcoming presentation and other programs supported by the Swann Foundation, please visit


PR 03-042
ISSN 0731-3527