Will Eisner

Cartoonist / Writer / Illustrator

Born: 6 March 1917
Died: 3 January 2005
Birthplace: Brooklyn, New York
Best known as: Creator of the comic The Spirit
Will Eisner was the innovative and influential illustrator who is often referred to as the "grandfather" of the graphic novel. Eisner got his start drawing comic strips in New York in the 1930s. His greatest success was The Spirit (1940-52), a newspaper comic strip about a wisecracking, masked detective. After he ended the strip, Eisner became a publisher and illustrator of commercial and educational comics until the 1970s. His work on The Spirit had by then been rediscovered by a new generation of fans and artists, and Eisner left the world of publishing to focus on teaching and creative projects. He went to work on what he called "sequential art" and explored the boundaries of storytelling and traditional comics. His 1978 book A Contract With God is considered to be the first graphic novel, a genre Eisner worked in for the rest of his career. His other graphic novels include The Building (1987), Last Day in Vietnam (2000) and Fagin the Jew (2003); he also authored two non-fiction books, Comics and Sequential Art (1985) and Graphic Storytelling (1996). At the time of his death, Eisner was finishing another graphic novel, Plot: The Secret Story of The Protocols of the Elders of Zion.
Extra credit: In the late 1930s Eisner and Jerry Iger owned Eisner-Iger Studios, the early home of future legends Bob Kane (creator of Batman) and Jack Kirby (Stan Lee's partner and co-creator of Spider-Man)... While Eisner served in the U.S. Army (1942-45), artist Jules Feiffer was in charge of The Spirit... The Eisner Award, established in 1988 and given out at the annual comic art gathering known as the Comic-Con, is one of the most esteemed honors in the comics industry.

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