The 209th meeting of the NY Comics & Picture-story Symposium will be held on Tuesday,  Feb. 27, 2018 at 7pm at Parsons School of Design, Kellen Auditorium (Room N101, off the lobby), Sheila C. Johnson Design Center. 66 Fifth Avenue. Free and open to the public.

Special Will Eisner Week event.

Will Eisner: Breaking Fourth Walls since 1940 (if not earlier)
Originating in theater, the concept of the “fourth wall” refers to the plane through which a viewer experiences a traditional staged production. When an actor shatters the illusion of reality by acknowledging the audience’s presence—often by directly addressing the viewers—that is known as “breaking the fourth wall.” The term has come to be used for similar behavior by characters in movies, TV shows and, of course, comics.

From at least as early as Richard Outcault and The Yellow Kid, through Stan Lee addressing his readers in the captions of classic Marvel Comics stories, to Robert Crumb and Harvey Pekar literally speaking to their readers, comics shares—and celebrates—the potential of narrative arts to create and destroy (sometimes simultaneously) the illusion of reality that its stories work so hard to create.

Raised by a theater set-painter father, comics innovator Will Eisner was part of this long tradition of fourth wall breaking.  Eisner’s stories were filled with bigger-than-life characters who periodically interrupted the action—breaking the fourth wall—to address the reader or to boldly call attention to the fact that they were, indeed, characters in a comic book.

Like the mask-wielding characters in Eugene O’Neill’s Strange Interlude (and the Mad Magazine spoof thereof), George Burns commenting on the other actors in his sitcom as he watches them on closed circuit spycams, or Woody Allen bringing the “real” Marshall McLuhan into a scene to interact with characters in Annie Hall, Eisner was always glad to speak directly to readers of The Spirit, his classic noir-comics feature—or to have the Spirit (or another character) do it for him.

Join comics writer and historian Danny Fingeroth (chair of Will Eisner Week) and a panel of fourth-wall-breaking experts including Dean Haspiel (The Red Hook), R. Sikoryak (The Unquotable Trump) and Miriam Katin (Letting It Go) as they explore Eisner’s innovative illusion-shattering in comics, and place it in an enlightening context of creative risk-taking in other comics and in other media.

WILL EISNER (1917-2005) innovated and pioneered comics in two different eras. Eisner helped invent the comics industry in the 1930s and created The Spirit in the 1940s as a heroic crime-fighting figure who appeared in a Sunday newspaper comics insert. The Spirit walked through a world of noir-inflected, urban drama, one suffused with humor and insight into the human condition, a world not afraid to essay the occasional Yiddish in-joke or Bronx social drama vignette. Then, after producing comics for training and education, Eisner, in 1978, re-invented himself—and the comics medium—with his first graphic novel, A Contract With God, followed, until his 2005 passing, with many acclaimed graphic novels and textbooks.


Emmy & Ringo award winner DEAN HASPIEL created Billy Dogma, The Red Hook, War Cry, illustrated for HBO’s Bored To Death, is a Yaddo fellow, a playwright, and helped pioneer personal webcomics. Dino has worked for Marvel, DC/Vertigo, Archie, Dark Horse, IDW, Heavy Metal, etc., including The Fox, Spider-Man, Wonder Woman, Deadpool, X-men, Batman, The Fantastic Four, Godzilla, Mars Attacks, and collaborated with Harvey Pekar, Jonathan Ames, Jonathan Lethem, Mark Waid, Stan Lee, & Stoya.

MIRIAM KATIN was born in 1942 in Budapest, emigrated to Israel in 1957 where she apprenticed in Commercial Art — drawing all the time with great passion – and served in the Israeli Defense Forces as a Graphic Artist. She moved to New York in 1963. Worked in animation  for Ein Gedi Animation, Jumbo Pictures- Nickelodeon, MTV and Disney. Her first comic was published in 2001. Her first graphic novel, We Are On Our Own (2006) was followed by the recent  Letting It Go, both published by Drawn & Quarterly.

R. SIKORYAK is the author of Masterpiece Comics (Drawn & Quarterly), “Where Classics and Cartoons Collide.” He continues to adapt the classics for various anthologies, including The Graphic Canon, Fable Comics, Hotwire, and Black Eye. His comics and illustrations have appeared in theNew Yorker, The Onion, GQ, MAD, SpongeBob Comics, and Nickelodeon Magazine, as well as on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart. He’s done storyboards and character designs for Augenblick Studios on various animated projects. Sikoryak is in the speakers program of the New York Council of the Humanities, and he teaches in the illustration department at Parsons School of Design and at The Center for Cartoon Studies. Since 1997, he’s presented his live cartoon slide show series, Carousel, around the United States and Canada. He lives in New York City with his wife, Kriota Willberg.

DANNY FINGEROTH (chair of Will Eisner Week) was Group Editor of Marvel’s Spider-Man line and has written many comics, including Spider-Man and Iron Man. He is the author of Superman on the Couch: What Superheroes Really Tell Us About Ourselves and Our Society and Disguised as Clark Kent: Jews, Comics, and the Creation of the Superhero. Fingeroth has spoken and taught about comics at The Smithsonian Institution, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Columbia University and the MiMaster Art Institute in Milan. He’s currently writing a biography of Marvel’s Stan Lee for St. Martin’s Press. Find out more at:

To find out more about WILL EISNER WEEK (and how to plan an event in your community), go to:

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