Remembering Comic Book Creator Will Eisner on His Birthday, March 6

Today is March 6 and we are celebrating Will Eisner’s birthday in style.  Although he’s no longer with us, we are fortunate to have a huge body of work to remember him by.  From comic books to graphic novels, from super heroes to war stories to semi-autobiographical dramas, Eisner did it all.  Eisner produced an incredible body of work in his lifetime, and also helped influence and shape the sequential art form.  His contributions advanced comic books to heights never imagined for a medium that was previously considered disposable entertainment for children. 

Wonder Comics #1 (May 1939)
Fight Comics #1 (January 1940)

Will Eisner was born March 6, 1917, and passed away on January 5, 2005.  In those 87 years, he worked on several comic books and graphic novels, with his most famous creation being The SpiritThe Spirit has seen numerous incarnations in print, being published more recently by the likes of DC Comics and IDW, to name a few.  It was even developed into a motion picture by none other than Frank Miller. 

A Contract with God (1978) – This book not only popularized the term “Graphic Novel” but also demonstrated that the comic book medium was not just for children.
John Law Detective #1 (April 1983)
The Spirit #1 (October 1983)

Still, with all the success of his original creations, it was his graphic novels that cemented Will Eisner’s place in comic history.  Although he didn’t come up with the term, his book A Contract with God helped popularize the phrase graphic novel to the comic book reading public. 

The Building (1987)
Baseball Comics #1 (May 1991)
The Christmas Spirit (1994) – A reprint collection of Christmas stories printed between 1940-1951

Eisner produced several other graphic novels before his death.  He saw his beloved art form turn into a medium with mass appeal, that could attract interest from both children and adults.  Will Eisner was a big part of that shift in the culture’s mindset. Of course, the modern comic book industry’s biggest annual awards – The Will Eisner Comic Industry Awards (aka “The Eisner’s”) – carry his name, too, so it’s only appropriate that we still take time to celebrate him and his works today.  Thank you, Mr. Eisner.  Neither you nor your works are forgotten. 

Last Day in Vietnam (July 2000)
The Spirit: A Celebration of 75 Years (July 2015) – An excellent collection of stories paying tribute to Will Eisner’s most famous creation, published by DC Comics.

“I want to point out to adults that there is a world of good material available to you now in comic form – in this medium – and learn to give it your support because the more you support it the better the material will be as it comes out.” – Will Eisner

Thanks for reading!

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