As a kid, I loved comic books. My favorite artists were Jack Kirby, Jim Steranko, Steve Ditko, and the greatest of them all, Will Eisner. Eisner created one of the best comic heroes ever, The Spirit, a cocky detective who was assassinated by gangsters and came back to become a vigilante. The stories ranged from noir to humor, and the Spirit had some of the sexiest sidekicks and enemies ever created. The Spirit started in the newspapers, went on to comic books, then graphic novels, and even a movie. Eisner created amazing splash panels, frequently covering a whole page or two. The panels had multiple layers that reward repeated viewing, like a broadsheet Bosch.
Beyond newspapers and comic books, Eisner was one of the fathers of the graphic novel, as his later work took on autobiography, theology, and even urban history. He wrote a seminal work on comics as art, Comics and Sequential Art.
I met Eisner's niece and nephew at the ALA Midwinter conference earlier this month. We had a nice talk about Eisner’s work and the impact he had on visual storytelling.
The family was at Midwinter to showcase Will Eisner Week, an annual celebration of graphic novel literacy, free speech awareness, and, of source, Eisner's legacy. Libraries across the US and around the world will offer book and visual displays, book group discussions, and discussion programs. Will Eisner Week 2010 will be celebrated February 28 to March 6. This would be a great opportunity to focus on your collection of graphic novels; after all, without Will Eisner, you might never have had that collection!