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Other Publications The Conversation Year : 2017

Will Eisner and the evolution of the graphic novel

Jean-Matthieu Méon


This year marks the 100th anniversary of the birth of American cartoonist and writer, Will Eisner. Important exhibitions have been organised to commemorate his artistic legacy – including one in Angoulême, France at the Musée de la Bande Dessinée and another in New York at the Museum of Illustration. In the course of his long career, Eisner (1917–2005) had a lasting influence on comics, not only through his works – from The Spirit in the 1940s to A Contract with God in 1978 – but also by initiating new ways of thinking and talking about comics. Championing and teaching “sequential art”, he also contributed to popularisation of the term “graphic novel”. Poster for the Will Eisner exhibition in Angoulême (France). Angoulême Museum of Comics This catch-all label now refers primarily to the format, but also a literary genre, the most celebrated examples of which are marked by a sense of seriousness and ambition – Art Spiegelman’s Maus, for example. As the term has spread since the 1980s, however, its outlines have become blurry. The ambition of the expression “graphic novel” was initially one of distinction – its promoters wanted to break with a mainstream comics production they saw as childish.
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hal-01738054 , version 1 (20-03-2018)


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Jean-Matthieu Méon. Will Eisner and the evolution of the graphic novel. The Conversation, 2017, pp.[En ligne]. ⟨hal-01738054⟩
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