As part of the 20th Annual Washington Jewish Film Festival, Silver Spring’s AFI Silver Theatre is turning its eye to one of American Judaism’s most under-appreciated additions to the cultural landscape — the comic book — and one of the form’s late grand masters: the incomparable Will Eisner.

On Sun., Dec. 6th, a rarely seen documentary feature chronicling the acclaimed writer and illustrator’s career, Will Eisner: Portrait of a Sequential Artist, will make its Washington debut. After creating one of comic’s most dazzlingly rendered crime-fighters with The Spirit in 1940, Eisner would go onto produce several long-form graphic novels, including one of the country’s first, 1978’s A Contract with God.

eisner_studio0919In the process, he imbued the “comics” — a term he despised — with a sense of gravity theretofore unknown to a medium ruled by spandex-clad demigods. As Eisner told Time after the publication his Fagin the Jew (itself a refutation of the antisemitic stereotype portrayed in Dicken’s Oliver Twist): “Look at all my books, underlying all of them is the depiction of human beings struggling to survive one way or another.”

Will Eisner: Portrait of a Sequential Artist will screen at 12:15 pm and feature an appearance by director Andrew D. Cooke. General admission to all shows at the Washington Jewish Film Festival, running from Dec. 3rd-13th, is $10. For more information, visit their website here.

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