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Ten Reasons You Must Read Eisner/Miller

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In May of 2002, one of comics luminaries sat down for a weekend-long conversation with a graphic storytelling legend. Frank Miller was the maverick creator of Batman: The Dark Knight Returns, 300, and Sin City. The late Will Eisner, creator of The Spirit, is also credited with the coining of the phrase ‘Graphic Novel’ in 1978, when his landmark book A Contract with God, was first published by Kitchen Sink Press. The conversation was the culmination of over two decades of comic book talk. The interview was conducted, annotated and photographed by Charles Brownstein and was published earlier this year by Dark Horse Comics.

Here are ten reasons you MUST read Eisner/Miller.

1) Eisner/Miller will challenge everything you believe about comic books.

The dialogue between Eisner and Miller was a lively debate. Each of the two was known for their strong opinions, and their discourse often took on a questioning character. The elder disagrees with the younger and vice versa. If you’ve never considered the form, content and politics of your favorite funny books, then you should buckle up for a wild ride!

2) You will understand what makes these trailblazers tick.

Will Eisner was a man apart from the rest of the creators of the Golden and Silver ages. Frank Miller is the lone wolf of his generation. Both are thoroughbred visionaries. Their aims, when taken on their own are wholly enlightening. To see these two bounce ideas off of each other is not only exciting, but inspiring.

3) The ideas in Eisner/Miller are illustrated perfectly.

Especially when things start to get confusing, like in the early chapter about atmospheric elements A Walk in the Rain, key elements from Miller’s and Eisner’s respective libraries send the point straight home. If you’d ever wondered why those little scraps of paper always seem to float through Hell’s Kitchen in the pages of Daredevil, you’ll see where Miller actually clipped the technique. The book goes to show that there are a lot of things you’d never considered before.

4) Eisner/Miller is one of the best examples of oral history on the subject.

Miller and Eisner each had a unique perspective of the history of comics, and of the creators of their respective generations. Stan Lee, Bob Kane, Fredric Wertham, and all the other notable figures get their mention, as can only be described by people who were there.

5) The Joy of Comics.

The same way Scott McCloud’s Understanding Comics delved into the theory behind the creation of Comics, Eisner/Miller illuminates the craft of Graphic Novels. If the sexiness of putting ink on paper had never occurred to you before, it will be brought to life.

6) It is one of the most moving dialogues put to paper.

When Frank Miller talks about finding a rag doll in front of a New York City restaurant, I cried. This from the man principally known for flying cars and brutal violence. Eisner’s response brings into question why each creator tells their stories.

7) To understand the classics, you must understand their context.

These are two artists who draw on their lives and the world around them in the creation of their works. Eisner’s life growing up during the depression would inform the man, his work and his methods. Miller’s livelihood as a young cartoonist at the end of the Silver Age is very telling. Eisner/Miller shines a light on two lifetimes worth of achievement.

8) It’s great to understand the way media interact.

Both men were inspired by the popular media around them. Will Eisner borrowed from his love of the Theater, while Frank Miller clearly learned from Cinema. Knowing those facts alone is mundane, but seeing how each creator implemented their loves in their story-telling explains many of the magic tricks of comics, especially when you consider many movies are influenced by Graphic Storytelling.

9) Frank Miller and Will Eisner are extremely well-spoken.

There’s a reason that Will Eisner has an award named after him. There’s a reason that Frank Miller has a legion of fans. Reading Eisner/Miller is a great way to understand the contributions that these artisans have made to their craft, and why these men deserve the respect they are given.

10) It has got heart.

It’s apparent that both men care deeply for the medium of comic books. It shows in every line they drew, in every word they lettered, and in every page they published. Their love for comics, and for each other shows most clearly in the conversation they held, that one weekend in May 2002.

If you care anything at all about Comics, you must read this book.

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