We use terms like “master of the form” and “visionary” and “influential” and “genius” and “inspiration” too often to describe those in the comic book world who’s work we admire. But, really, Will Eisner is deserving of all those terms– and more.

I’ve been thinking about Eisner a lot the past several days since his passing– thinking back on the first time I discovered his work; some of my favorites from his massive life-long body of work. I was reading

Jeff Parker’s thoughts on Eisner the other day and he mentions rolling the tops of his gloves down like THE SPIRIT did when he was a kid after discovering Eisner’s seminal character in the old WARREN magazine reprints being published in the 70’s and early 80’s– and I remembered doing the EXACT SAME THING! It’s funny how universal some things are with kids. I can imagine a whole army of us back then rolling the tops of our gloves down to emulate THE SPIRIT.

There was something wonderful about that simple rumpled blue suit, gloves, black domino mask and fedora that comprised THE SPIRIT’S “costume” that just connected with me when I first saw that character. And Eisner’s art– I had never seen such vibrant, cartoony and yet utterly MOODY work before. Eisner was a master of lighting, staging, body language… and of course storytelling. His amazing– and at the time UNIQUE– work had a profound influence on so many folks through the years. From older artists like Jack Cole and Wally Wood who worked in Eisner’s studio decades ago to newer stars like Frank Miller– Eisner’s work touched so many. And fortunately for us all, he continued to work until the end. He’s left us all such a massive body of work to study and enjoy– he’ll be an influence for generations to come.

Eisner was a living link (one of the last, I think– if not THE last) to the beginnings of the comic book industry. He was there when they were born– he was a part of their birth. He was one of those young, energetic pioneers who worked for little pay and less recognition (back then) to create the industry we all love so much now. One of my favorite works of his beside THE SPIRIT is a graphic novel he did called THE DREAMER. It’s a heartfelt look back by an much older man– now a wealthy giant in his field (who, incidently, was smart enough to retain the rights to his character, the SPIRIT, at a time when all his contemporaries sold off their characters to the big companies and lived to regret it)– recounting personal experiences and shared anecdotes of the formation of this amazing art form. It’s a fascinating read and a MUST for anyone who cares about how we all got here to engage in this craft we all love (whether reading OR creating them).

I’m just grateful to Will Eisner for leaving us so much amazing work to enjoy. His spirit (as well as SPIRIT) will live on forever in those works. Anyone who creates comics can only aspire to have an IOTA of the impact on comic books that Eisner did.

I’d also like to take this time to congratulate Jeff Parker on the birth of his son, REID!!! Parker’s a two-time daddy now– one of each–a girl, and now a boy. Go check out his new cutie.


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