Comics and Sequential Art - Will Eisner

It is only adequate that one of the first treatises on the language and structure of comics belongs to Will Eisner, an artist whose importance to the medium cannot be overestimated.
In the preface to his Comics and Sequential Art (1985), Eisner states his purpose as to examine the unique aesthetics of comics as a means of creative expression, a distinct discipline and an art and literary form. Echoing his lifetime battle for the acceptance of comics as a recognized art form, Eisner argues that upon reviewing the features of the comic books, their unique elements take on the properties of a language, which he is about to dissect and illustrate.
Eisner starts by analyzing the imposition of visual and textual elements within the framework of comics, which integrates the “regimes of art and literature” (Eisner, 7). Eisner illustrates some of the contributions of individual elements and how they interact and empower each other: For example the visual impact of the lettering onto the mood of the panel.
Continuing with the visual style, Eisner argues that imagery in comics can be placed in between the complexity of visual arts, like painting, and the reductionist simplicity of pictographic representation. This, according to Eisner, provides the comics artist both with the simplicity and accessibility of pictograms and with the ability to use add light and atmosphere, overall constituting a very adoptable and versatile toolkit.
Other particular areas Eisner focuses on the use of comics language are the depiction of time, constructing the ideal framing and achieving the most accurate depiction of anatomy, all elements that built on and feed from each other. Eisner gives examples of how different shapes and styles of frames, coupled with particular word balloons can be used to convey the passage of time in a certain manner. In which ways frames can be used to control the narrative and place the reader’s perspective within the narrative and how to place characters within these frames in order to depict the action in the most effective and economical manner.
Within all the issues he discusses, one unmistakable quality of Eisner’s book is his ability to provide an almost perfect representation of what he describes. With selected stories or frames from his long career, he demonstrates how the visual and textual elements he just described can be practiced. For the credibility such a technical prowess gives alone, Eisner’s book is an invaluable companion for many aspiring artists and readers who aim to learn more about comics.