On the eve of the opening of Comic-Con International: San Diego, Abrams ComicArts announced plans to publish Will Eisner: The Dreamer and the Dream, a monograph by Paul Levitz, author and former president and publisher of DC Comics, examining the life, work and creative impact of Eisner on the making of and the business of American Comics. The book will be released in Spring 2015; Levitz will be on hand to discuss the book and Eisner, during Comic-Con at the panel, Will Eisner and the Graphic Novel on Saturday July 20.
Charlie Kochman, editorial director of Abrams ComicArts, said the Will Eisner: The Dreamer and The Dream completes a triumvirate of biographical works he planned to mark the Comics Arts list from its beginning. Levitz’s work on Eisner, he said, is now added to books previously published on Jack Kirby by Mark Evanier and Harvey Kurtzman by Denis Kitchen.
“It is an honor to finally round out the triumvirate of monographs by Mark Evanier and Denis Kitchen with a monograph on Will Eisner by none other than Paul Levitz. Paul not only knew Will, but at DC Comics published his later graphic novels and steered the Spirit back into print with the Archive editions,” said Kochman. “Will Eisner's name is synonymous with comics, and his influence is seen in most every comic book that followed the path he carved out for all of us to follow. I know from my conversations with Will the importance he placed on comics being presented as serious art, and I can only imagine how pleased he would be to see this lavishly illustrated, beautifully produced monograph on our shelves alongside the other luminous artists that Abrams has published for the past sixty-plus years,” Kochman said.
The panel on Eisner to be held at Comic-con will use the occasion to celebrate the 35th anniversary of the publication of A Contract with God, first published in 1978, Eisner’s acclaimed short story collection and a seminal work cited as one of several early books to be called a “graphic novel.” The panel will include, among others, bestselling novelist and renowned comics writer Neil Gaiman, cartoonist Scott McCloud, Kitchen, and cartoonist Jeff Smith, in addition to Levitz, who is also the author of such works as 75 Years of DC Comics: The Art of Modern Mythmaking and a series of historical works examining the Golden, Silver and Bronze Age periods of the comics industry and culture at DC. Published by Taschen. .
Levitz, who has spent his time since leaving the job of publisher at DC Comics, writing books on the American comics industry (as well as histories of DC Comics), says despite his universal acclaim, Eisner was a unique and elusive evangelist for the medium. And the book, Will Eisner: The Dreamer and The Dream, will try to assay the varied aspects of his character.
“As seminal as his A Contract With God was, by Will's own description it was far from being the first graphic novel, and the term didn't originate with him either. The book traces how an influential artist became a unique evangelist for an art form whose potential he recognized, nurtured, and lived to see recognized as a vital force in our popular culture,” Levitz said. “Was Eisner a dreamer, a savvy businessman, a theorist, a commercial artist--or a curious combination of them all?"