Will Eisner

From Academic Kids

Will Eisner (March 3, 1917January 3, 2005) was an acclaimed American comics writer and artist who is considered one of the most important contributors to the development of the medium. He is known for the cartooning studio he founded, his highly influential series The Spirit, his use of comics as an instructional medium for the U.S. military, his leading role in establishing the graphic novel as a form of literature with his book A Contract with God, and his educational work about the medium as exemplified by his book Comics and Sequential Art.

In 1988 the comics community paid tribute to Eisner by creating the Will Eisner Awards, more commonly known as "the Eisners", to recognize achievements each year in the comics medium. Eisner enthusiastically participated in the awards ceremony, congratulating each recipient.

Will Eisner died on January 3 2005, in Lauderdale Lakes, Florida, of complications from a quadruple bypass surgery performed on December 22 2004.


Eisner & Iger Studio

In 1936 Eisner and partner Jerry Iger founded a studio which produced finished comics for publishers. Among the future prominent cartoonists employed by Eisner & Iger were Jack Kirby, Lou Fine, Bob Kane, Wallace Wood, and Jules Feiffer. During this time Eisner co-created Sheena, Queen of the Jungle, Doll Man, and Blackhawk.

The Spirit

The Spirit ran in a 16-page insert in the Sunday edition of twenty newspapers from 1940-1952, with a combined circulation of as many as 5 million copies. Eisner's rumpled masked hero (with his headquarters under the tombstone of his supposedly defunct true identity, Denny Colt) and his gritty, detailed view of big-city life (based on Eisner's Jewish upbringing in New York) both reflected and influenced the noir outlook of movies and fiction in the 1940s.

The strip is especially notable in other areas. First, it was the story of people, often the little people overlooked in the city's maelstrom. In many of the finest episodes of The Spirit, the nominal hero makes a brief, almost incidental appearance while the story focuses on a real-life drama played out in streets, dilapidated tenements, and smoke-filled back rooms. Second, along with violence and pathos, The Spirit lived on humor, both subtle and overt. He was machine-gunned, knocked silly, bruised, often amazed into near immobility and constantly confused by women.

Instructional materials

Eisner was drafted into the U.S. Army in 1942, leaving The Spirit to be continued by other creators until his return to civilian life in 1945. In the service, he introduced the use of comics for training personnel in the publication Army Motors. He formed American Visuals Corporation in 1948 to produce instructional materials for the government, related agencies, and businesses. One of his longest-running jobs was P*S, The Preventive Maintenance Monthly, a digest-sized, largely comics-format magazine for the US Army that he started in 1951, and continued to work on until 1970.

Graphic novels

In the late 1970s, he turned his attention to longer storytelling forms. A Contract with God, and Other Tenement Stories (1978) is widely considered the first American graphic novel, combining several thematically-linked short stories into a single square-bound volume. He continued with a string of graphic novels that tell the history of New York's immigrant communities, particularly Jews, including The Building, Dropsie Avenue and To The Heart of the Storm. He continued producing new books into his seventies and eighties, at an average rate of nearly one a year.

Some of his last work was the retelling in sequential art of novels and myths, including Moby Dick. In 2002, at the age of 85, he published Sundiata, based on the part-historical, part-mythical stories of a West African king, "The Lion of Mali". His last graphic novel, The Plot, an account of the making of the anti-semitic hoax The Protocols of the Elders of Zion, was completed shortly before his death and published in 2005.

Academic work

In his later years especially, Eisner was a frequent lecturer about the craft and uses of sequential art. He taught at the School of Visual Arts in New York City, and wrote two books based on these lectures, Comics and Sequential Art and Graphic Storytelling and Visual Narrative, which are widely used by students of cartooning.


External links

de:Will Eisner es:Will Eisner fr:Will Eisner it:Will Eisner nl:Will Eisner no:Will Eisner pl:Will Eisner fi:Will Eisner sv:Will Eisner


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