Will Eisner Week Panel:
A Focus on Graphic Novels

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Will Eisner Week Panel:
A Focus on Graphic Novels

Mar 4, 2023 @ 12:00 pm - 4:00 pm

Celebrate Will Eisner Week - March 1-7

The Comic-Con Museum is proud to announce their affiliation with the Will and Ann Eisner Family Foundation to hold a series of Will Eisner Week panels that focus on the life, creative output, and lasting legacy of graphic novel pioneer and comics industry legend Will Eisner.

The panels will be conducted from 12:00 to 4:00 pm on Saturday, March 4, in the theater at the Comic-Con Museum in Balboa Park. Attending these programs is free with Museum admission.

Will Eisner Week is an annual series of events celebrating comics and sequential art, graphic novel literacy, free speech, and the legacy of Will Eisner, who was one of the most innovative figures in the history of comics and graphic novels. Will Eisner Week occurs annually in March in conjunction with Will Eisner’s March 6 birthday. In further celebration of Eisner and his legacy, the San Diego Comic Convention has hosted the Will Eisner Comic Industry Awards every year at Comic-Con since 1988.

The panels being held at the Museum on March 4 are:

12:00 Comics Aren’t Just for Grown-Ups Anymore!

Are youngsters and teens finally reclaiming comics as their own, after decades of an aging fan base? Panelists will look at what is fueling this resurgence of the youth market, from creative, commercial, and economic perspectives. Panelists include Moni Barrette (librarian, president of the ALA’s Graphic Novel & Comics Round Table), Alonso Nuñez (director, Little Fish Comics Studio; moderator) and Jim Thompson (comics historian).

1:00 What Is a Graphic Novel?

Will Eisner introduced the concept of the “graphic novel” to the general public in 1978 with the publication of A Contract with God, but this panel begins earlier with Contract’s precursors. The conversation then moves on to its contemporaries, followed by a look at all that the term encompasses today.  You can expect lots of recommendations and a vivid slide show. Panelists include Alonso Nuñez, Jim Thompson, TJ Shevlin (2023 Eisner Awards judge), and Jackie Estrada (administrator, Will Eisner Comic Industry Awards).

2:30 Will Eisner and the Legacy of the Graphic Memoir

Will Eisner is rightly known as one of the fathers of the graphic novel itself, but often overlooked is the component of autobiography found in much of Eisner’s work. Panelists will explore that legacy here, including discussion of recent outstanding graphic memoirs. Panelists include Jim Thompson, Alonso Nuñez, Jackie Estrada, and graphic memoirist Mary Fleener (Life of the Party). Moderated by KPBS popular arts reporter Beth Accomando.

About the Panelists:

Beth Accomando covers arts and culture around San Diego for KPBS News. Since 1997 she has been covering independent and international cinema as well as pop culture for National Public Radio and Public Radio International’s The World. She has received numerous Society of Professional Journalist Awards and San Diego Press Club Awards for her radio and website work at KPBS.

Moni Barrette is a 16-year public librarian who expanded her expertise in libraries, comics, and relationship building through her role at LibraryPass as the Director of Content Management and Publisher Relations. As co-founder of the nonprofit Creators Assemble, President of the American Library Association’s Graphic Novel & Comics Round Table, and adjunct lecturer at SDSU, she is dedicated to promoting learning through the use of comics and popular culture. She is a 2023 Eisner Awards judge.

Jackie Estrada has been the administrator of the Will Eisner Comic Industry Awards (the “Oscars” of the comics industry) since 1990. She has attended every San Diego Comic-Con, starting in 1970, and has held numerous positions with the event, including having edited a dozen of the Souvenir Books in the 1970s, 1980s, and 1990s and co-authored Comic-Con: 40 Years of Artists, Writers, Fans & Friends (Chronicle, 2009). Her two Comic Book People books contain photos taken at Comic-Con and other events in the 1970s–1990s.

Mary Fleener is an alternative comics artist, writer, and musician originally from Los Angeles. Her drawing style, which she calls cubismo, derives from the cubist aesthetic and other artistic traditions. Her first publication was a work about Zora Neale Hurston, called Hoodoo (1988), followed by the comics series Slutburger and the autobiographical Life of the Party (1996). Her most recent work is the graphic novel Billie the Bee.

Alonso Nuñez is the co-founder (in 2012), executive director, and lead instructor of San Diego’s Little Fish Comic Book Studio, a nonprofit comic art studio and advocacy group. Alonso has served as a member of the One Book One San Diego Selection Committee since 2016, A graduate of New York’s School of Visual Arts, Alonso’s artwork has appeared in books and publications by Kodansha, Moonstone, and the ACLU. He served as an Eisner Awards judge in 2021.

TJ Shevlin served as manager at St. Mark's Comics in NYC for eight years. He helped establish and run, along with Kevin Eastman, IDW's Comic Art Gallery, curating events and exhibitions. He is currently a product development coordinator at Upper Deck and is a 2023 Eisner Awards judge.

Jim Thompson is an independent comics scholar, is a practicing attorney, and was the faculty director of the Duke in L.A. program for Duke University for 15 years, teaching comics and film as genre theory. He is the co-creator of the Comics Historians podcast and founder of A People’s History of Comics group; he served as an Eisner Awards judge in 2021.

For more information about Will Eisner Week, please go to https://www.facebook.com/willeisnerweek or visit http://www.willeisner.com.