Ever heard of Will Eisner?

Yesterday would’ve been Will Eisner’s 94th birthday. Eisner was an artist and writer of comic books and largely responsible for raising them from an entertainment medium to an art form. His use of graphic design in the 1940s had not been seen in comic books before, and he pioneered the methods and techniques of storytelling that are now considered conventional. More than any other work, he will forever be remembered for his character, The Spirit – a hard boiled detective type who’s actually a cop returned from the grave. But Eisner produced many books that defied what was expected of comics. In 1978, he released A Contract with God, and Other Tenement Stories. Its story told the history of New York’s immigrant communities and when describing it he coined the phrase “graphic novel.” He continued producing new books into his seventies and eighties at an average rate of nearly one a year.

Sequential art as storytelling has been around as long as cavemen were using drawings on a wall to tell the family how dinner was killed. But not many artists in the world of comic books are recognized outside of the medium. Will Eisner is revered by fans and critics alike. Google even used his style in their logo on yesterday’s home page. The awards he’s garnered and had named after him are too many to list here. He passed away in 2005, but it’s unlikely that his impact on the comic book art form will ever be overshadowed.

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