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Friday, March 6, 2015

Happy 98th Birthday Will Eisner!

Happy birthday
Will Eisner 
(March 6, 1917 – January 3, 2005)

Will Eisner is the great old man of comics. He started out at the birth of comics, in the late 30's as a young, enthusiastic comic creator hopeful. Eisner grew up in Brooklyn with a painter father who had difficulty bringing in enough money to feed his family. This instilled in young Eisner a valuation for art and the impetus to work hard. In the late 30's he would start a "packaging" shop with Jerry Iger where they would make the contents of a whole comic and sell it to a publisher.

He chronicles his early years establishing himself in the comics industry in his quasi-fictional book "The Dreamer".
In the Eisner-Iger studio he would co-created such comics as Doll Man and Blackhawk as well as hire some of the most brilliant comic creators of the time like Lou Fine, Jack Cole, Bob Powell, and Reed Crandall (below going from left to right, top to bottom).


Eisner would hire artists on a salary and arrange for each artist to specialize in a different area like layouts, backgrounds, lettering and so on. He wrote about his "sweat shop" in the Dreamer.
They produced many good books in the Golden Age of comics like Crack Comics, Smash Comics, Police Comics and National Comics. A lot of their stuff was published by Quality Comics.


In 1940 Will Eisner was offered a special deal, to create a comic that would be inserted into the Sunday papers and he would get to keep all the rights to his work. This was a opportunity too great to pass up for Will so he broke from Iger and started The Spirit Section.


Along with the 7 page Spirit story, The Spirit Section would contain a 4 page Lady Luck and 4 page Mr. Mystic story


Lady Luck was created by Will Eisner and Chuck Mazoujian but it was best remembered for the work that Klaus Nordling did on it. 

Mr. Mystic was created by Eisner and Bob Powell
Because they didn't have a lot of space, the front cover was also the first page of the story so Eisner became famous for dressing up the first page or splash page as it became known with impressive images and would often work the title into the image.


Eisner was called to war in 1942 and so he got people like Lou Fine to "ghost" the comic while he was away but Eisner came back in 1945 with a vengeance. Eisner would do his most innovative work between 45 and 48.


He would experiment with the form of comics and try crazy new experiments in his later Spirit stories.


He was a master of the comic arts who left an incredible legacy for all those who followed him.

willeisner.com - biography 3 - spirited-work.

The Spirit of comics by Scott Tipton

About P'Gell

Will Eisner's early Hawks of the Sea strip


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