Willl Eisner Week in Arkadelphia

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Will Eisner Week is an annual event celebrating comics and graphic novels. The namesake of the week is in honor of artist Will Eisner. He was one of the most innovative figures in the medium and every year the celebration occurs in the beginning of March in conjunction with his birthday. On March 6, Eisner would have been 99 years old.  This will be the eighth year for the celebration; in 2015, almost 50 events were held in 20 cities across the U.S. and internationally as part of the festivities.

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For 2016, Will Eisner Week  is scheduled for March 1-7.  As part of the program, award-winning comics scholar Dr. Randy Duncan of Henderson State University in Arkadelphia will present a brief history of the development of the graphic novel and talk about the recent abundance of high-quality graphic novels for all interests and ages. The title of the lecture will be Graphic Novels for Grown-ups: A Will Eisner Week Celebration of the Art Form and it will take place at the Caddo River Art Guild meeting at the Arkadelphia Arts Center at 625 Main Street on March 17 at 6:30 p.m.

Duncan, is the co-author of a new book on the medium called Creating Comics as Journalism, Memoir and Nonfiction. Other books to his name include being co-author of  The Power of Comics: History and Culture and co-editor of the Eisner-nominated Critical Approaches to Comics: Theories and Methods. He is also a co-founder of the Comics Arts Conference, an academic conference that meets every year at WonderCon Anaheim and the San Diego Comic-Con International.

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As to Eisner, who passed away at age 87 in 2005, according to copy provided by Danny Fingeroth, Chair of Will Eisner Week and Nancy and Carl Gropper of the Will and Ann Eisner Family Foundation, “he was one of the pioneers to lead the American comic book industry, proving himself a master of a variety of artistic and literary styles. His landmark comic series The Spirit (1940–1952) was noted for its artwork and experiments in content and form. In the late 1970s, Eisner popularized the term “graphic novel” with the publication of his book A Contract with God and Other Tenement Stories, which was then followed by three decades of landmark work, much of it examining topics in comics form that had never before been dealt with in that medium.

Eisner was an early contributor to formal comics studies with his textbooks Comics and Sequential Art (1985), Graphic Storytelling and Visual Narrative (1995) and Expressive Anatomy (2005). He taught at New York’s School of Visual Arts for twenty years alongside other famous comic creators such as Harvey Kurtzman and Art Spiegelman. He was a goodwill ambassador for comics, showing people that comics stood on an equal footing with other storytelling media. As part of this, he lent his name to the prestigious Will Eisner Awards, the Oscars of the Comics Industry, presented each year at the world’s most prestigious comics convention, San Diego’s Comic-Con International.