In Eisner/Miller, Charles Brownstein’s joint interviews with Will Eisner and Frank Miller, the cartoonists note that many of their predecessors considered themselves entertainers. It wasn’t until the current generation that comic book writers and illustrators — Miller, Chris Ware, Seth, the Hernandez Brothers, et al. — started to think of themselves as artists.
As the form began to be contemplated as art, I guess, that made the practitioners artists.
Early on in the book, Eisner talks about how he did his own lettering for Contract With God — all of it — and Miller suggests that “was really a departure.”
“I was more mature” by then, Eisner replies, “and I had something to say.”
“You got to us. We started regarding ourselves as novelists. It’s as if you said ‘These’ll be permanent.’”
And thus was born the graphic novel and graphic novelists. Let there be light.
See my earlier posts on Eisner/Miller: A One-on-One Interview here and here.