Friday, May 06, 2005

This Book Is Good - Eisner/Miller

This Wednesday saw the release by Dark Horse of Eisner/Miller, a transcription of a two-day discussion between Walt Eisner and Frank Miller from 2002 about comic books.

It is the kind of discussion that, while you read it, you cannot believe that no one else came up with something like this before.

It is marvelous.

Frank Miller mentions in the opening that Eisner loved to argue, and the discussions in the book often get quite heated, and those are often the most fascinating parts of the book.

One of Eisner's big things in the discussion is that he does not let Miller state anything as fact unless Eisner believes that Miller has basis for said position, so he is constantly challenging Miller.

The biggest example is Miller's celebrated stance about how the Comics Code was designed to put EC Comics out of business. Eisner, someone who was a notable personality in the comics business of the time, challenges this position. He does not tell Miller that Miller is WRONG, he just says "prove it." It is great, as we see how so many of the things that we toss around, when defiantly challenged on it, tends to have less foundation than we give it after repeating it over and over they said in The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance, "When the legend becomes fact, print the legend." That sounds like a lot of our comic stories over the years, and Eisner, as an eye witness to some of these events, is a really fun devil's advocate to Miller for the sake of veracity.

But Miller is never put off, which is great. He gives as good as he gets (and Eisner actually specifically lauds Miller for this quality).

A lot of their discussion is about comic art itself, technical stuff. But even THAT is made interesting.

For instance, check out this excerpt of the book (had to shrink it to get it to fit the blog - for a full look at it, click on the Newsarama link), courtesy of Newsarama.

Image hosted by

"Inking is sexy."

That's classic.

Along the same lines is Miller's comments about the size of comics (paraphrasing here)- "We are designing our comics based on what size the mylar bags are!"

There is a lot of history discussed, as well as a lot of other artists and writers.

Dark Horse does a good job with the packaging, mixing in appropriate pages of the comics themselves.

It looks really good.

It is $20, but for twenty bucks, you get a piece of comic history - which is pretty cool, no?

Anyone else read this yet?


Anonymous Gordy said...

I hadn't heard of this before, it sounds fascinating. I'm a sucker for books on comics, particularly those that seem to deal in honesty rather than Les Daniels style tributes (though they have their place too). Quite often they don't make it over to these shores, though, so I'll have to cross my fingers and bug my comic store guy.

5/06/2005 09:35:00 AM  
Blogger Shaenon said...

If you enjoyed EISNER/MILLER, you may also like SHOP TALK, a collection Will Eisner published of his conversations with a whole bunch of cartoonists. The conversations tend toward technical art noodling (love them sable brushes!), but if you're into that type of material, it's great.

5/06/2005 02:52:00 PM  
Blogger Brian Cronin said...

Good point, Shaenon.

I think what actually impressed me the MOST about Eisner/Miller was the way they balanced it out pretty evenly between artist technical stuff and comic history.

Something for everyone, as it were.

But I will be sure to pick up Shop Talk now (Eisner DOES allude to Shop Talk often in the discussions).

5/06/2005 04:50:00 PM  
Blogger MarkAndrew said...

Loved the bloody crap outta Shop Talk.

Oh, bite me. It's 3:16 AM. Let's see how your literary prowess hold up at this time of night.

I'll definitely get this.

Did you see the BIG-ASS Fantagraphics Frank Miller special?

5/11/2005 03:17:00 AM  
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