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The Dreamer

3.88  ·  Rating details ·  714 ratings  ·  54 reviews

A roman à clef about Eisner's early years in the thriving comics industry prior to World War II—featuring new annotations that reveal comics pioneers such as Bob Kane and Jack Kirby who appear under pseudonyms.

Paperback, 46 pages
Published January 28th 1988 by Kitchen Sink Press (first published 1986)
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Average rating 3.88  · 
Rating details
 ·  714 ratings  ·  54 reviews

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Jon Nakapalau
The early days of comic industry - told by a master who was there.
Jul 20, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
In 54 pages, including about 7 pages Annotations by Denis Kitchen with the real names and events, Will Eisner relates a condensed version of his early years in the early years of the comic book industry. Anything Will Eisner is automatically a good buy for his fans, comic collectors, those with an interest in the history of pre-WWII America and the golden years in the creation of the comic book business and culture. The Dreamer is almost family friendly, absent a few panels of sex. I found the s ...more
Gayle Francis
May 05, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: comics, 2013, may-2013
Let it be known, if I have a bias for anything, it's for any book that looks at the history of the comic book in America, and when dealing with Will Eisner's The Dreamer, you might as well just accept I'm going to love it or give up.

You see, The Dreamer is Eisner's lightly veiled autobiographical tale of how he got into comics and how he got his big break with The Spirit. It's a great story, if you've an interest, and I certainly do. It is helped along, as always, but Eisner's great art (Joe Kir
Nov 27, 2007 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Aspiring artists, comic fans
Though I was introduced to Eisner's work with "Heart of the Storm", this book truly showed me what a great artist he was.

I picked up "The Dreamer" when I was relatively young, still reading superhero series and more mainstream books. This story showed me how amazing comics could be to tell human interest stories, tales of ordinary people that had lead extraordinary lives.

"The Dreamer" made me want to make my own comics and I'll always be thankful for that.
Dec 11, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition

The Dreamer is a roman à clef of Eisner's time in the comic book industry of the 1930s. A fascinating, first-hand account of what it was like to work for the early assembly-line comic book publishers, this graphic novel also contains some fun, thinly disguised appearances by industry legends such as Jack Kirby (co-creator of The Fantastic Four, The X-Men, and Captain America among others) and Bob Kane (the co-creator of Batman).
Oct 22, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: graphic-novels
An autobiographical account of himself as well as other artists during the initial period of struggle. I liked this work. Although, I do wish it was a bit longer and a bit more detailed....
Apr 30, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Oh Eisner, this may be my second favorte autobio GN by you (first being "Into the Storm"). This book was wonderful, I read it so quickly. I learned all kinds of things about the 1930s comic industry I'd never even heard about, and I'd considered myself an expert. Plus a firsthand look at what it's like to work with Jack Kirby! I wonder if Eisner was really as fabulously, classically handsome as a young man as he draws himself in this book (it doesn't seem possible).

To think there was once a tim
Lisa Feld
Dec 05, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: boston
Great to get a glimpse of the early comics industry from the perspective of someone who was actually there. I'm glad for the notes at the end which clarify both the things Eisner didn't know at the time and the things he deliberately changed. But he keeps hammering home the theme of dreams and dreamers, often twisting the facts just to drum it into the reader's brain one more time. I wish Eisner had been comfortable enough to let some of those go and let the story unfold more naturally. ...more
Michael Beyer
Dec 29, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is Will Eisner's autobiographical graphic novel about becoming one of the most important founding members of the art of the comic book and being the reason the highest honor in the comics world is called the Eisner Award.
He relates his trek from dewy-eyed young dreamer to writer and artist behind Sheena Queen of the Jungle, Captain Marvel, and eventually, his signature work, The Spirit.
Comic book story-telling doesn't get better than this tale from the brush of the master.
Christian Lipski
Eisner still has his drawing chops, to be sure. The story is a veiled history of the comic book, though there are annotations at the back to explain who is who. It's a very short book, so there's a lot that happens all at once, perhaps too much. In any case, it's a nice little story about the medium. ...more
C.D. Reimer
Nov 15, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This very short graphic novel introduces a fictionalize account of Will Eisner's entry into the comic book business in the middle of the Depression. One aspect most people overlook about Eisner that he was a businessman first and foremost. When an opportunity disappears he decides to start his own business. Most artists are not good at business and are content to settle for less. ...more
Brittany Kubes
Jul 06, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
An autobio comic by the man who created the first successful graphic novel, detailing "a dreamer" trying to make artistic dream→reality in the face of capitalism obstacles (exploitation for profits, large risks, people as pawns)…but also a glimpse into the origins of the comic book industry. Good drawings, good text. ...more
Jan 14, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: owned
This is about Will Eisner’s early years in the comic book world and his accounts with other people in the industry. This is a great graphic novel if you want to see what went on in the comic book industry in the early years, or how Eisner got his start. It’s a very enlightening read that shows all the good and all the bad that occurred during this time.
Jan 24, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: comics
Although nothing Eisner does is bad, this short reflection on the early comics industry isn't nearly as compelling as Eisner's other works. Perhaps it's simply that this one is so very short that it doesn't really have time to develop greater narrative complexity, but aside from the stunning art and usual humor, I found this quaint but not very profound. ...more
Kushal Srivastava
Mar 13, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Nice and short. This books feels almost autobiographical, lthough to be fair I can't be much of a judge on that. Talks about the aspirations of simple people who think big also feels like it hits caustically on the naivity of a dreamer. Worth a read. ...more
Aug 10, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
lots of thinly disguised history on the origins of the comic/graphic novel industry from the venerated creator of the Spirit and the pioneering graphic novel.
Dec 19, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: comics
Eisner's always fluid and dynamic storytelling skills shine through in The Dreamer a brief, yet poignant primer on the birth of the comic book. ...more
Sep 06, 2012 rated it really liked it
I love the works of Will Eisner.
Jun 08, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: graphic-novels
Aug 11, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: comics, memoir, art
A semi-autobiography about Eisner's own adventure into the comic strip filed with one determination: to achieve his dream. ...more
Eli Poteet
Feb 24, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
this is an incredibly inspiring and motivational story of the original creator of graphic novels.
May 06, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The grandfather of comics. This is a true master at work. The levels this story functions are phenomenal. I highly recommend this novel.
Sep 15, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: comics
This is a thinly disguised chapter from Will Eisner's life, done up in "graphic novel" style. It's a quick read: only about 46 pages. It's a black and white production, uncolored.

As the story opens, "Billy" (clearly a stand-in for Will Eisner), an aspiring artist, is looking for work and still living with his parents. It's the dawn of comic book publishing: the mid-1930's, not long before Superman's first appearance in Action Comics. (While the basic outline of this event is portrayed, Eisner a
Ryan Werner
Mar 07, 2021 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: comics
This was great, if not a little light as a narrative. I don’t give a shit, though, because Eisner’s art (those vertical lines!!!) is the real draw here. I wish my version had the annotations talking about who everyone actually was — not that it would have made much of a difference, as I don’t really know my comics history. I’m sure the funny page needs got more out of this than I did, but as it is, I’ll read anything Eisner and enjoy it.
Nigel McFarlane
An affectionate account of the early days of comics, with anecdotes about the young Eisner's career and the people he worked with. Eisner changes all the names, but then tells you who they all are anyway. A young Jack Kirby makes a cameo, and it's a delight to see this brief glimpse of the man behind the legend. ...more
Alex Johnston
Mar 25, 2021 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A really cool illustrated history of the beginnings of comic books from The Guy Who Was There, so There that they named the award for comic books after him.

A very nice little read, especially with the notes at the end explaining who all the pseudonames were, and where maybe Will was a little more kind and generous to his subjects than they deserved.
A fun read and an interesting look into the world of comics in the 1930's. I do wish it were longer and the world and characters more fleshed out, but it's still one of Eisner's best. It felt like he was having fun while drawing it. ...more
Mickey Bits
Jan 25, 2021 rated it really liked it
My only critique of Eisner's stories is that I sometimes lose track of the character since they all look so similar.

Other than that, a great little story.
Mar 07, 2011 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
This book is just a relatively bad and uninspirational western version of Bakuman. It's the story of someone accomplishing their dream to run a publishing agency and make comics, but it turns out to be a dissapointment in the end.

The corporate nature of our entertainment industry is something that fills me with despair....and this story is obviously supposed to be inspirational yet realistic. Well, it's fairly realistic for how short it is, and I have to admire that, but I didn't find it to be i
Nov 06, 2013 rated it liked it
In 'The Dreamer' which is loosely based on his own life, Eisner sheds light on the struggles that budding artists had to undergo during the dawn of the age of comics in the 1940s. From fly by night publishers, copyright infringements and the looming threat of being drafted into the army thanks to the War, most budding artists of the age had a tough life. While most of the characters of this graphic novel are based on some of the luminaries of the form, I couldn't appreciate them enough due to my ...more
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Will Eisner was born on March 6, 1917 in Brooklyn, New York. By the time of his death on January 3, 2005, Will Eisner was recognized internationally as one of the giants in the field of sequential art, a term he coined.

In a career that spanned nearly eight decades -- from the dawn of the comic book to the advent of digital comics - Will Eisner was truly the 'Father of the Graphic Novel' and the 'O

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