The Spirit Lives On

  This column originally ran in the January 2005 issue of Comics & Games Retailer  

Many are more qualified to give tributes to Will Eisner than I am. I will say he was an important person in my development as a professional working in the comics' biz. I remember him saying comic book 'industry' was a misnomer because, frankly, we're just not big enough to be considered an industry. Instead, according to Eisner, comics are a far more personal business, on every level from creative to retail, even if there are large corporations involved in the mix.

Seeing Will Eisner once or twice a year since I came into the comics' biz had become something of a touchstone for me. Always generous with his time, always surprising by how in tune he was with everything going on in comics, I was energized about my own work as a retailer after hearing what Eisner ---the pioneer, the businessman, the artistic communicator--- was up to. I always came away from our short visits feeling like my career choice was not just validated, but reinvigorated by Will's words and actions. He cared deeply about comic book retailers, caring enough to create the 'Spirit of Comics retailing award as a measure of the connections he felt between the creative process and the retail sales end of the business.

A critical concept I learned from Will Eisner is to 'tithe' my comic book orders. By stepping outside the comfortable yet crowded spandex mainstream and dedicating some budget to new titles off the beaten path, retailers can grow their business, support new artistic voices and reduce the staggering dependency on the super-hero genre.

Some retailers have questioned this strategy as throwing money away. I know it was not Eisner's intention to waste any dollars on small press comics and leave it at that. Rather, by investing some of our ordering dollars with new cartoonists and coupling the spending with the research to find titles worthy of our money, we'd find more sales and diversify our stock.

In the wake of Eisner's passing, I suggest retailers look at the tithing of new titles as a way to honor one of the most important creative and spiritual founders of our business, while also doing something positive for each of our stores. More than that, though, I think retailers can also tithe a bit of their time and energy to renewed efforts in reaching out to potential new readers, as well as making their voices heard in the larger comics community. Support of independent comics, along with increased outreach and advocacy is a recipe to keep Eisner's spirited wishes thriving.

(Joe Field invites your comments and suggestions. He can be found most days at Flying Colors Comics & Other Cool Stuff, 2980 Treat Blvd, Concord CA 94518. E-mail him at

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Last updated: 03-Aug-2005 4:52 PM  
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